Portrait of the Marchioness of Santa Cruz

Francisco Goya

Keywords: PortraitMarchionessSantaCruz

Work Overview

Portrait of the Marchioness of Santa Cruz (Portrait of the Marquise of Santa Cruz)
Francisco Goya
Original Title: Retrato de la Joaquina, nacida Alfonso Téllez Girón y Pimentel, 10 ª Marquesa de Santa Cruz como la musa, Euterpe
Date: 1805
Style: Romanticism
Genre: portrait
Media: oil, canvas
Dimensions: 207 x 125 cm
Location Museo del Prado, Madrid

The Portrait of the Marchioness of Santa Cruz or Portrait of the Marquise of Santa Cruz is an 1805 portrait by the Spanish artist Francisco José de Goya y Lucientes, a family friend of the subject. It has been owned by the Museo del Prado since 1986, when it bought it from its previous owner for over US$6 million.

It shows Joaquina Téllez-Girón, Marquise of Santa Cruz clad in a very light white dress, lying sideways on a red divan. Her head is decorated with yellow flowers; her left hand is balancing a lyre-guitar. Her gaze does not directly fix on the viewer but seems to look distant. Her body does not seem to sit in a natural position, but seemingly floats on the red divan and the pillows.

The theme seems almost allegorical, a reference to the ancient Greek theatre. The composition of the work is similar to Antonio Canova's sculpture of Paolina Borghese as Venus Victrix. The portrait is also similar to Diego Velázquez and, to an extent, to Titian's depictions of Venus. The flowers on her head are a reference to Bacchus, while the lyre-guitar with its resemblance to the ancient lyre is a homage to art and Apollo.

This painting inspired one pastiche or fantasy portrait depicted in the comedy film Mortdecai (2015), starring Johnny Depp and Gwyneth Paltrow.

Joaquina Téllez-Girón y Pimentel (1784-1851) was the daughter of the Duke and Duchess of Osuna and Marchioness of Santa Cruz by her marriage to José Gabriel de Silva y Walstein in 1801. A friend of poets and literati, she was one of the most admired women of her time. Goya presents her wearing white crêpe and reposing on a canapé upholstered in red velvet. She is crowned with grape leaves and clusters. This headdress and the lire-shaped guitar identify her as Erato, the muse of Love Poetry -a clear reference to her love of poetry and music. This canvas is in excellent condition and, unlike most, still has its original shine, revealing the stunning perfection of its tonal relations as well as a rich, confident pictorial technique. It is signed and dated on the lower left corner.