Title of Artwork: “The Duchess of Alba and Her Duenna”
Artwork by Francisco Goya
Year Created 1795
Summary of The Duchess of Alba and Her Duenna
Spanish artist Francisco Goya painted this 1795 painting of the Duchess of Alba and “la Beata,” or the Duchess of Alba and “la Beata,” as it is called in English. It is called “La Duquesa de Alba y su duea.”
All About The Duchess of Alba and Her Duenna
It shows the Duchess of Alba, Mara Cayetana de Silva, reaching playfully for her maid, Rafaela Luisa Velazquez, known as “la Beata” She leans away, but the Duchess laughs. If you hold a red cord under the older woman’s chin, it looks like she is going to be scared. When she backs away, her eyes roll back in mock horror, and her mouth curls in delight.
A walking stick or cane helps Velazquez stand up. She has a wooden cross in her right hand, and she pretends to send the Duchess away. The duchess has black lace and a black bodice on her white dress. The painting is mostly made up of white and black hues that are painted in broad strokes. The dresses are outlined with a touch of livid yellow.
Set against a black background, these people look like they are in a single moment. This removes any context from the picture.
The painting of the Duchess of Alba and la Beata is thought to be one of Goya’s “caprichos” It was painted soon after he lost his hearing. When you look at the bottom right corner, it says, “Goya in 1795” In Madrid, Spain, the Museo del Prado has it.
It was bought from a private collection and now lives there. It was not the only time that Goya painted Mara Cayetana de Silva. In the same year, he painted The White Duchess, and in 1797, he painted the Duchess of Alba in her portrait.