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Francisco de Goya (Spanish, 1746-1828)

Shown from the waist up in front of a black background, a young woman with pale white skin and curly brown hair looks directly out at us over her shoulder with her body angled to our left in this vertical portrait. She has dark brown eyes, a straight nose, smooth skin, and her pink lips are closed. Curls fall across her forehead but the rest of her hair is pulled up under a white lace scarf, called a mantilla. The mantilla is tucked under the wide orange and black shawl wrapped around her shoulders. She clasps her hands at her waist, and her hands and forearms are covered with long white gloves that disappear under the shawl.


Goya was one of Spain’s greatest painters and an internationally influential printmaker during the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. Francisco José de Goya y Lucientes, after training in Saragossa and traveling in Italy, married the daughter of the Spanish court artist. The next year, 1774, Goya received his first royal commission—painting decorative scenes of daily life to be woven into tapestries. In 1799 he was appointed first court painter, the highest artistic position attainable.

Goya’s earliest portraits reflect the airy landscape settings and shimmering pastel colors of his tapestry designs. As he matured, and particularly after he lost his hearing due to a serious illness in 1792, Goya increasingly sought psychological characterizations of his sitters, often spotlighting them against dark, shadowed backgrounds.

Francisco de Goya, Spanish, 1746 - 1828, Señora Sabasa Garcia, c. 1806/1811, oil on canvas, Andrew W. Mellon Collection, 1937.1.88

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A young girl with pale skin, rosy cheeks, and blond hair stands facing us in front of a landscape with forests and mountains in this vertical portrait painting. The girl looks at us with wide, gray eyes under delicately arched eyebrows. She has a short, rounded nose, and her full, pink lips are parted. Her smooth, rounded cheeks are flushed. She wears a lace-trimmed, sky-blue, scoop-necked bodice that comes to a V at her waist, a full, ankle-length black skirt, and a white bonnet with a royal-blue ribbon, which has a pink rose at the bow. Her long, white, lacy veil, called a mantilla, drapes over the hat, over her shoulders, and to her waist. One end of the mantilla drapes over her left wrist, to our right. The other end is pinned under the back of her other hand, which rests against that hip. One cobalt-blue, pointed shoe with a silver buckle peeks out under her skirt. A small, shaggy, white-haired dog sits at her feet to our right. A low, gray stone wall behind the girl and dog angles away from us to the left. Some plants with dark green leaves grow in front of the wall to our left. Beyond the wall, pine-green, treed foothills rise to meet rocky, nickel-gray mountains under a ice-blue sky with pale, petal-pink clouds kicking up over the mountains. An inscription in all capital letters is painted in black in the lower left corner: “LA S.D. MARIA TERESA HIXA DEL SER. INFANTE D. LUIS DE EDAD DE DOS ANOS Y NUEVE MESES.” A crimson-red letter “B.” is painted to the left nearby. In the lower right corner, the number “15.” is painted in white and the number “5.” is painted in red.

Goya’s major portrait commissions began in 1783 when he was thirty-seven. In August and September of that year, Goya painted a suite of family likenesses at the request of the Spanish king Carlos III’s younger brother, including this charming image of the prince’s daughter.

At the lower left, Goya inscribed in Spanish: “The Senorita Doña Teresa, daughter of the Most Serene Infante, Don Luis, at the age of two years and nine months.” The child actually was four and a half; why Goya misstated his royal sitter’s age is unknown. As an adult, Teresa was married to Manuel Godoy, the infamously corrupt prime minister to Carlos IV. Her support of Spanish independence during the Napoleonic wars brought her great popularity.

Teresa stands on the terrace of her father’s country palace near Avila, in the mountains west of Madrid. Goya adapted this format from Spain’s seventeenth-century court artist, Diego de Velázquez, who had portrayed royal children outdoors with dogs. Goya worked rapidly, often improvising his designs; this and the loose, fluid brushstrokes also follow Velázquez’ example.

Francisco de Goya, Spanish, 1746 - 1828, María Teresa de Borbón y Vallabriga, later Condesa de Chinchón, 1783, oil on canvas, Ailsa Mellon Bruce Collection, 1970.17.123

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A woman with pale skin, wearing a silvery-gray dress adorned with white ribbons and light pink roses, stands looking out at us with a small, pug dog by her feet in this vertical portrait painting. The woman’s body is angled slightly to our right but she looks at us with dark eyes under faint, arched brows. Her nose is rounded, her cheeks smooth and flushed, and her pale pink lips are closed. Her face is framed in a cloud of nickel-gray hair, and tendrils curl down over her shoulders. She wears a wide-brimmed straw hat with a white ribbon set on the back of her head and slightly off to one side. The bodice of her dress has a low, curving neck. This area is loosely painted to create the impression of layers of lace. A band of intertwined pale pink roses and delicate green leaves borders the outer edge of the lace. The dress has long, tight sleeves with lace at the cuffs and the notably narrow waist is tied with a blush-pink ribbon. The full, silver skirt is picked up to create a row of puffs, like the top of a muffin, around her knees. Bunches of pink roses and white ribbons are nestled into the puffs, and below, the skirt falls in long, vertical pleats to her ankles. She wears white stockings and pointed, petal-pink shoes. In her left arm, on our right, she holds a closed fan loosely at her side, almost lost behind the skirt. She holds a pink carnation with a full bloom and a bud on a long, curving stem in her other hand, by her hip. A caramel-brown pug with a black face, wearing a pink collar lined with three bells, stands facing us with one front paw lifted, to our right of the woman's feet. The landscape is painted in tones of mint and sage green for grass beneath trees enclosing the space the woman stands in, sand brown for the ground, and icy blue for the sky above.

Doña María Ana de Pontejos y Sandoval delicately fingers a pink carnation, an emblem of love that is often shown held by brides. In 1786 at age twenty-four, she married the brother of the Conde de la Floridablanca, Carlos III’s progressive prime minister. At that time, her husband served as Spain’s ambassador to Portugal.

The marquesa’s pug dog with its ribbons and bells echoes the stiff, doll-like pose of its mistress. Her elaborate coiffure, straw sun hat, and flower-trimmed gown imitate the attire of Marie-Antoinette, the French queen who sometimes dressed as a shepherdess. This extravagant, foreign-influenced costume accentuates the marquesa’s tightly corseted waist, fashionable among Spanish noblewomen. Her erect, regal bearing and aloof gaze derive from Velázquez’ royal portraits.

As a designer of tapestries, Goya eliminated unessential details that would have been difficult for the weavers to execute. This tendency toward simplified design affected his portraiture, too. The jade-green trees and pearl-gray dress here are described in broad, sketchy areas of color.

Francisco de Goya, Spanish, 1746 - 1828, The Marquesa de Pontejos, c. 1786, oil on canvas, Andrew W. Mellon Collection, 1937.1.85

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Shown from the knees up against a dark gray background, a young woman with peachy skin stands with her body angled to our left and she looks at us with brown eyes in this vertical portrait painting. She has dark, arched brows, a straight nose, and her full, coral-pink lips are closed. Her dark brown, curly hair is covered by a mantilla, an ivory-white, lacy scarf highlighted with pale gold and subtle, russet-red highlights. She holds the two long ends of the mantilla with her right hand, farther from us, below her bust. The ends of the scarf fall to mid-thigh over her long, ink-black dress. The bust of her dress is also white and shimmers, like the mantilla. Long, tight-fitting, off-white gloves nearly reach the short, puffed, cap sleeves of the dress. The back of the glove on her left arm, closer to her, is tied at the top with a bow, and she holds a silvery-white, closed fan in that hand. A brownish-coral colored necklace is painted as a squiggle of paint around her neck. Barely visible, the painter signed the painting in the lower left: “Goya.”

The mantilla, a gauze and lace headdress that drapes over a woman’s shoulders, is a distinctly Spanish form of attire. Also unique to Spain is the basquiña, a short-sleeved overdress for outdoor wear. This canvas, known for more than a century as “The Bookseller’s Wife,” may instead represent a character study of an upper-class woman. As yet unidentified, she is much like some figures in Goya’s tapestries that show Spaniards from all walks of life.

Francisco de Goya, Spanish, 1746 - 1828, Young Lady Wearing a Mantilla and Basquina, c. 1800/1805, oil on canvas, Gift of Mrs. P.H.B. Frelinghuysen, 1963.4.2

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Shown from the hips up, a pale-skinned, heavy-set, elegantly dressed man sits at the corner of a table, looking at us in this vertical portrait painting. Against a dark brown background, the man’s body is angled to our left, and he stares at us from the corners of his brown eyes. His eyebrows are drawn together, and his pink lips are set in a line. His round face is cleanshaven, and he has full, flushed cheeks and a double chin. His gray hair is brushed back off his forehead and curls in a furling row over each ear. His black, high-necked coat is densely decorated with loosely painted gold leaves and patterns around the collar and down the front. A gold, starburst-like medal hangs from a short ribbon striped in white and light blue amid the gold trim. The coat’s wide, scarlet-red cuffs are lined with gold buttons and are also decorated with gold trim. A froth of white lace nestles at his throat. The coat is buttoned over his chest and drapes open across his hips over a red garment, possibly a vest, also edged with gold decoration. The tail of his black coat hangs down under the arm of his chair, which has a curving, gold wood frame and crimson-red upholstery. The man’s left elbow, closer to us, rests on the arm of his chair, and that hand is tucked into the gap between buttons of his red garment. His other hand rests on the pine-green cloth covering the table in the lower left corner of the composition. He holds a folded piece of paper in that hand, which rests on more papers. The folded paper is painted with the words, “El Sor Dn Antonio Noriega Tesorero General F. Goya 1801.” There is more writing on the front of the tablecloth, but it is difficult to make out.

The blue and white ribbon of the Order of Carlos III appears prominently on the jacket of Antonio Noriega Bermúdez. His knighthood, a list of other offices, and the date 1801 are inscribed in Spanish on both the tablecloth and the paper in the sitter’s hand. Don Antonio was knighted on 23 July 1801, and Goya’s portrait may commemorate that event.

As is customary in portrayals of government officials, Goya depicted Spain’s high treasurer at work. In a gesture of nonchalance, Don Antonio rests his hand inside his unbuttoned vest, implying his authority and control over the country’s finances. In truth, his administration was disastrously inefficient, nearly doubling the national debt. While fleeing from the Napoleonic invaders in 1808, Don Antonio was assassinated by Spaniards who, mistakenly, thought he had collaborated with the French army.

Francisco de Goya, Spanish, 1746 - 1828, Don Antonio Noriega, 1801, oil on canvas, Samuel H. Kress Collection, 1961.9.74

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Shown from the knees up, a cleanshaven, young man with pale, peachy skin leans on his right elbow, to our left, against a ledge and holds a black top hat in that hand in this vertical portrait painting. His body faces us and he looks slightly off to our left, as if just over our left shoulder, with dark eyes. He has a wide nose, his pale pink lips are closed, and he has the hint of a five o’clock shadow on his square jaw and cleft chin. Sideburns come down past his ears, and straight brown hair falls in long bangs over his forehead and around his eyes and ears. White cloth wraps around his neck and is tied in a knot at the base of his throat. His white vest is striped faintly with light blue. Over that, his gray jacket has a black collar at the back and wide, gray lapels that reach his shoulders. The jacket is fitted to his waist, where it is buttoned, and then flares out into the shadows at his knees. Silver buttons gleam in the light from our left, down that side of the jacket. His left fist, on our right, rests against his hip as he leans on his other elbow, presumably on a ledge or high table. He holds the black top hat in that hand so we see the crimson-red lining within. The dark background behind him is subtly streaked with brick and coffee brown.

Sureda served as director of the Spanish royal textile, crystal, and ceramic factories. He first studied manufacturing and printmaking in England in 1793-1796. Upon his return to Spain, he taught Goya the new graphic arts technique of aquatint. In 1800-1803, Sureda worked in Paris. Goya painted Sureda and his new French bride, depicted in a companion portrait, Thérèse Louise de Sureda, also at the National Gallery of Art, probably shortly after they moved to Madrid. In 1804, at age thirty-five, Sureda took over Spain’s famous porcelain works at the Buen Retiro.

In Goya’s representation, the arts administrator leans in a relaxed manner and dangles a high-crowned hat. This informality reflects the current international taste for casual poses. The hat’s hot red lining complements the warm brown tones of the loosely brushed background.

Francisco de Goya, Spanish, 1746 - 1828, Bartolomé Sureda y Miserol, c. 1803/1804, oil on canvas, Gift of Mr. and Mrs. P.H.B. Frelinghuysen in memory of her father and mother, Mr. and Mrs. H.O. Havemeyer, 1941.10.1

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Thérèse Louise Chapronde Saint Amand met her Spanish husband while he was in Paris to study the manufacture of textiles and porcelains. Although her portrait was painted in Spain, she epitomizes current French styles. Her hair is combed in the “antique” manner, and her empire armchair is decorated with “Egyptian” heads. Although little is known of her, letters she wrote after her marriage in 1803 reveal her scathing disapproval of extravagance in others.

Thérèse sits erect with a self-conscious propriety and does not rely on the chair’s back for support. Since she holds her arms close to her torso, her form is tightly confined. Goya’s matching portrait of her husband, Bartolomé Sureda y Miserol by contrast, shows a much more casual figure leaning to one side, with arm akimbo.

Francisco de Goya, Spanish, 1746 - 1828, Thérèse Louise de Sureda, c. 1803/1804, oil on canvas, Gift of Mr. and Mrs. P.H.B. Frelinghuysen in memory of her father and mother, Mr. and Mrs. H.O. Havemeyer, 1942.3.1

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Shown from the waist up in front of a black background, a young woman with pale white skin and curly brown hair looks directly out at us over her shoulder with her body angled to our left in this vertical portrait. She has dark brown eyes, a straight nose, smooth skin, and her pink lips are closed. Curls fall across her forehead but the rest of her hair is pulled up under a white lace scarf, called a mantilla. The mantilla is tucked under the wide orange and black shawl wrapped around her shoulders. She clasps her hands at her waist, and her hands and forearms are covered with long white gloves that disappear under the shawl.

Known to her friends as “Sabasa,” Maria Garcia Pérez de Castro was the niece of Evaristo Pérez de Castro, Spain’s minister of foreign affairs and one of Goya’s leading patrons. A legend is associated with this picture that, like many anecdotes, may contain an element of truth. While Goya was painting her uncle, Sabasa visited Pérez’ house, and the artist, struck by her beauty, supposedly asked permission to portray her.

The sheen on Sabasa’s gold shawl is a dazzling display of Goya’s brushwork. Goya painted spontaneously and he rarely reworked his canvases, thus retaining the immediacy of his first impressions.

Francisco de Goya, Spanish, 1746 - 1828, Señora Sabasa Garcia, c. 1806/1811, oil on canvas, Andrew W. Mellon Collection, 1937.1.88

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A young boy with pale skin, wearing a black suit with densely pattered gold trim and decoration, stands holding an open book in front of a brown background in this vertical portrait painting. His body is angled slightly to our right, but he looks at us with large, slate-blue eyes. He has a round face, a wide nose, and his full, peach-colored lips are barely parted. Short blond hair falls in tousled bangs across his forehead. A tall, oyster-white collar flares up in a wide V along the sides of his neck. His hip-length, long-sleeved black jacket has gold trim and decoration down the open front, along the bottom hem, and at the cuffs. His pants have a high waist, meeting the buttons of the white shirt at his chest. There are two gold buttons on his pants near the waist, framed by his open jacket. Gold trim continues down the sides of his long pants and around the leg openings. He wears black, loafer-style shoes with gray or white stockings or socks. He is lit from our left so casts a shadow to our right, in the dark brown room in which he stands.

The nephew of one of the most important French generals in Spain, the young Victor Guye wears the uniform of the Order of Pages to Joseph Bonaparte, Napoleon’s brother who had been appointed king of Spain. At six or seven years of age, Victor was probably too young to act as a court page. Even so, he might have been permitted to wear the prestigious uniform through his uncle’s influence. Goya re-created the uniform’s gold braid with scintillating flecks and daubs of impasto or thick, pasty-textured paint.

This picture matches a companion portrait of the boy’s uncle, General Nicolas Guye, now in the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond. In 1810, Nicolas commissioned both pictures as gifts for his brother, who was Victor’s father. The sympathy with which Goya depicted the French conquerors might suggest he favored the Napoleonic regime, but the artist created equally sympathetic portraits of leaders of the Spanish resistance.

Francisco de Goya, Spanish, 1746 - 1828, Victor Guye, 1810, oil on canvas, Gift of William Nelson Cromwell, 1956.11.1

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Two crowds made up of dozens of men each clash on the dirt floor of an outdoor arena in this horizontal painting. The scene is loosely painted and most details are indistinct. Many of the men wear black caps and have peach or brown-colored faces. The group to our left surges near a flagpole. The group to our right eddies around a dark brown bull that stamps front feet firmly on the ground. Both groups are enlivened by swirls of buttercup yellow, scarlet red, powder blue, and bright white. One man wearing white crouches, bare bottomed, on the ground in front of the bull. More people gathered on the far side of the arena and beyond its walls pare painted with strokes and dabs of pearl white, rust red, golden brown, dark gray, ochre yellow, and black.

This picture was inspired by Goya’s many paintings, drawings, and prints of bullrings. Goya often troweled on thick paint textures with the flexible blade of his palette knife, just as this later follower did.

Goya’s own works accurately convey the danger to professional athletes. Lucas’ humorous design, however, places two folk contests inside a formal arena. During fiestas, young braggarts compete in climbing greased poles and in racing before bulls set loose in city streets. With a foolhardy impudence, one youth kneels—pants dropped—to mock the bull.

Eugenio Lucas Villamil, Spanish, 1858 - 1918, The Bullfight, c. 1890/1900, oil on canvas, Gift of Arthur Sachs, 1954.10.1

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