The Black Duchess (also Mourning Portrait of the Duchess of Alba or simply Portrait of the Duchess of Alba) is a 1797 oil-on-canvas painting by Spanish painter Francisco Goya. The subject of the painting is María Cayetana de Silva, 13th Duchess of Alba, then 35 years old. It is a companion piece to the more chaste The White Duchess, completed two years earlier.

Portrait of the Duchess of Alba
ArtistFrancisco Goya
Dimensions194 cm × 130 cm (76.5 in × 51.25 in)
LocationNew York Hispanic Society, New York[1]

The painting is normally kept in New York, where it forms part of the collection of the Hispanic Society of America.[2]

About Edit

The Portrait of the Duchess of Alba was painted in 1797 by Spanish painter Francisco José de Goya y Lucientes. It is among a number of works by Goya representing María Cayetana de Silva, 13th Duchess of Alba[a].[3] At the time the work was created, she was thirty-five years old. She is pointing to the ground, where the words "solo Goya" are lightly engraved. She is wearing two rings, one engraved with the word "Alba", the other engraved with "Goya". The inscription of the word "solo" was initially hidden, but after the painting was restored the word was revealed.[4]

Her husband José died in 1796. She retreated to a residence in Andalusia for a period of mourning. [5] Goya followed and created numerous paintings and sketches of the duchess during her stay.[6] There is an anecdote that one day, the duchess walked into Goya's studio and requested that he put on the duchess' makeup, then create a painting for her, which he did.[7]

Clothing Edit

The Duchess' choice of black for her mantilla and skirt reflects the fact that she was in mourning for her husband. She is dressed in maja style associated with lower social classes.[8] She may have agreed to this depiction in the expectation that it would show her as a "woman of the people".[9] However, the background appears to show one of her estates.

Ownership Edit

While the Black Duchess may have been done at the subject's request, at the time of her death it remained in the possession of the artist. It was sold by Goya's son Javier and had various owners before being acquired in 1906 by Archer Milton Huntington and moved to the USA.[1] It was presented to the Hispanic Society by Huntington in 1907, and has remained there. In 2023 it was shown at the Royal Academy, London.[10]

Media Portrayals Edit

The film Goya en Burdeos (1999) explores the painter's relationship with the Duchess. The film won Pierre-Louis Thévenet the Goya Award for Best Art Direction at the 14th Goya Awards. It references various works by Goya. There is a scene in which the Duchess, played by Maribel Verdú, is painted in a pose reminiscent of the Black Duchess, her costume featuring a black mantilla. In another scene, she appears nude in a pose reminiscent of La maja desnuda. While a number of people, including Carlos Saura the film's director and writer, have made the assumption that the Goya and the Duchess were lovers,[11] the opinion that she was the model for La maja desnuda is a minority one. An alternative candidate is Pepita Tudó who was portrayed by Penélope Cruz in another 1999 film Volavérunt.

See also Edit

Notes Edit

  1. ^ Full name: Spanish: Doña María del Pilar Teresa Cayetana de Silva Álvarez de Toledo y Silva Bazán, décimo tercera duquesa de Alba de Tormes, décima primera duquesa de Huéscar, sexta duquesa de Montoro, octava condesa-duquesa de Olivares, décimo primera marquesa del Carpio, décimo tercera marquesa de Coria, novena marquesa de Eliche, décimo segunda marquesa de Villanueva del Río, sexta marquesa de Tarazona, marquesa de Flechilla y Jarandilla, décimo primera condesa de Monterrey, décimo cuarta condesa de Lerín, décimo tercera condesa de Oropesa, décimo cuarta Condestablesa de Navarra, décimo segunda condesa de Galve, décimo cuarta condesa de Osorno, de jure duquesa de Galisteo, décimo primera condesa de Ayala, novena condesa de Fuentes de Valdepero, condesa de Alcaudete, condesa de Deleitosa, señora del estado de Valdecorneja, señora de las baronías de Dicastillo, San Martín, Curton y Guissens

References Edit

  1. ^ a b "Portrait of the Duchess of Alba".
  2. ^ Milam, Jennifer Dawn (18 April 2011). Historical Dictionary of Rococo Art. Scarecrow Press. pp. 32–. ISBN 978-0-8108-6183-1. Retrieved 2012-10-13.
  3. ^ Evan Connell (18 December 2003). Francisco Goya: A Life. Counterpoint Press. ISBN 978-1-58243-307-3. Retrieved 14 October 2012.
  4. ^ Rose-Marie Hagen; Rainer Hagen (1 December 2002). What Great Paintings Say. Taschen. pp. 354–. ISBN 978-3-8228-2100-8. Retrieved 13 October 2012.
  5. ^ Rose-Marie Hagen; Rainer Hagen (1 December 2002). What Great Paintings Say. Taschen. pp. 352–. ISBN 978-3-8228-2100-8. Retrieved 14 October 2012.
  6. ^ Ronald J. Bradley; R. Adron Harris; Peter Jenner (3 April 2006). The Neurobiology of Painting: International Review of Neurobiology. Academic Press. pp. 306–. ISBN 978-0-12-366875-2. Retrieved 14 October 2012.
  7. ^ Rose-Marie Hagen; Rainer Hagen (1 November 2003). Francisco Goya, 1746-1828. Taschen. pp. 41–. ISBN 978-3-8228-1823-7. Retrieved 13 October 2012.
  8. ^ "The Duchess of Alba". Columbia University. Retrieved 12 February 2023.
  9. ^ Hughes, 161
  10. ^ Judah, H (2023). "'Spain and the Hispanic World', Royal Academy, review: A doomed bid to straddle 4,000 years of Spanish history". Retrieved 11 February 2023.

Further reading Edit

External links Edit

40°50′01″N 73°56′47″W / 40.833521°N 73.946514°W / 40.833521; -73.946514