Goya's relationships with members of Spain's social elite were a subject of scandal and rumor, particularly his suspected love affair with the aristocratic Maria Cayetana de Silva, the 13th Duchess of Alba. After the Duke of Alba's death in 1796, Goya likely became involved with the Duchess, who was known for her beauty, curvaceous figure, alabaster complexion, and voluminous black curls. In this portrait, painted the year after the Duke's death, the Duchess poses in mourning black as a maja, a member of Spain's lower classes known for their bold behavior. She points toward the ground, where Goya has lightly drawn his name in the sand. When the painting was restored, the word "solo" was uncovered next to Goya's name, suggesting that he was her only love. Although the painting was commissioned by the Duchess, Goya kept it in his possession for 15 years, indicating his strong attachment to the work and its subject. Art historians speculate that the end of their affair may have led to the imagery that would populate Goya's later works, depicting women as fickle temptresses, men as cuckolded fools, and lovers tortured by uncontrollable passions.More ...
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. In the painting, María Cayetana de Silva, 13th Duchess of Alba (the Duchess) is thirty-five years old. It is a companion piece to the more chaste The White Duchess, completed two years earlier. In this work, de Silva is dressed in low cut Maja clothing, probably she agreed to this depiction as it might show her as a "woman of the people". As of 2012 the painting is kept at the New York Hispanic Society, operated by the Hispanic Society of America.
The Portrait of the Duchess of Alba was painted in 1797 by Spanish painter Francisco José de Goya y Lucientes. The work is kept at the New York Hispanic Society, owned and operated by the Hispanic Society of America. In the painting, the duchess (María Cayetana de Silva, 13th Duchess of Alba) is thirty-five years old, and her husband had died the year before, so she is dressed in mourning clothes (attire). In the painting, 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.
This work is among a number Goya painted of the duchess. When she retreated to a residence after her husband died a year earlier for a period of mourning, Goya followed and created numerous paintings and sketches of the duchess during her stay. 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. This painting is the Portrait of the Duchess of Alba, painted at her request.
Coordinates: 40°50′01″N 73°56′47″W / 40.833521°N 73.946514°W / 40.833521; -73.946514
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