Duchess of Alba DETAIL of hand showing rings (1797) by Francisco Goya

Duchess of Alba DETAIL of hand showing rings - Francisco Goya - 1797

Artwork Information

TitleDuchess of Alba DETAIL of hand showing rings
ArtistFrancisco Goya
MediumOil on Canvas
Dimensions210.2 x 149.3 cm
Current LocationHispanic Society of America, New York, NY

About Duchess of Alba DETAIL of hand showing rings

The Black Duchess, also known as Mourning Portrait of the Duchess of Alba, is a painting by Francisco Goya in 1797. The oil-on-canvas painting depicts the 13th Duchess of Alba, Maria Cayetana de Silva, who was highly admired in eighteenth-century Spain for her beauty and aristocratic status. Goya painted numerous portraits of her on several visits to her palaces.

The painting is notable for several reasons. Firstly, it is an unusual request as it shows the Duchess in mourning attire, unlike the typical portraits of women in wealthy Spanish society. Secondly, the portrait reflects the Duchess’s reputation as a spoilt, egocentric, and provocative person. Her hand, prominently displayed in the painting, shows her wearing several rings as a symbol of her wealth and status.

Goya’s portraits of Spanish royalty highlight their wealth and power while subtly criticizing their rulers’ circle. The Duchess of Alba was second only to the Queen in Spain’s hierarchy, and her spending on palaces, clothing, and jewelry was notorious. Goya’s painting captures the Duchess’s social status, reputation, and personality through his masterful use of color and composition.

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