The Bookseller’s Wife (c.1805 – c.1808) by Francisco Goya

The Bookseller's Wife - Francisco Goya - c.1805 - c.1808

Artwork Information

TitleThe Bookseller's Wife
ArtistFrancisco Goya
Datec.1805 - c.1808
Art MovementRomanticism
Current LocationNational Gallery of Art, Washington, DC, US

About The Bookseller's Wife

“The Bookseller’s Wife” is a noted work by the renowned Spanish artist Francisco Goya, dating from approximately 1805 to 1808. This portrait is emblematic of the Romanticism movement, during which Goya produced a significant body of work. The genre of the artwork is that of a portrait, and it presently resides in the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC, in the United States.

The artwork presents a woman standing in an upright, frontal position against a muted, dark background that offers no distraction from her figure. She is clad in a dark dress with a low neckline and puffed sleeves that tighten just below her elbows. Notably, she wears a translucent lace mantilla over her head that cascades gently over her shoulders, slightly obscuring her features while also calling attention to her visage and enhancing the aura of modesty. Her attire and the way the mantilla is arranged speak to the customs and fashion of Spanish women during Goya’s time.

The woman’s gaze meets the viewer with a directness that conveys a sense of individuality and presence. There is a subtle complexity to her expression, a mix of introspection and quiet confidence, which is typical of Goya’s skill in capturing the psychological depth of his subjects. She holds a fan loosely in her right hand, an accessory often associated with feminine grace during the period.

One can observe the delicate rendering of textures in the artwork—the translucency of the lace, the sheen on the silk of her dress, and the softness suggested by her gloves, all speak to Goya’s masterful handling of paint to achieve varied material effects. The restrained use of light enhances the focal point on the woman’s face and hands, further emphasizing her subtle yet captivating expression. The artwork, while formal in its composition, is intimate in the conveyance of the subject’s character, a hallmark of Goya’s portraiture within the broader Romantic movement.

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