The Marquesa de Pontejos

Francisco Goya
Keywords: MarquesaPontejos

Work Overview

The Marquesa de Pontejos
c. 1786
oil on canvas
overall: 210.3 x 127 cm (82 13/16 x 50 in.)
Style   Romanticism
Genre   portrait

Trees, grass, and shrubbery, simplified almost to abstraction, set off the fragile, wasp–waisted figure of María Ana de Pontejos y Sandoval, the Marquesa de Pontejos. Splendidly attired, she typifies those ladies of the Spanish aristocracy who affected the "shepherdess" style of Marie Antoinette, so popular in pre–revolutionary France.

The 18th century's sentimental fondness for nature, influenced by the writings of Jean–Jacques Rousseau, is alluded to in the parklike setting, the roses arranged around the bodice of the gown and tucked into the folds of the voluminous overskirt, and in the carnation that the marquesa holds with self–conscious elegance. Framing her artfully arranged coiffure, the broad–brimmed picture hat again bespeaks high fashion, perhaps imported from England; such hats were often seen in contemporary portraits by Gainsborough and other British painters. While the painting's pale tones reflect the last stages of the rococo in Spanish art, the overall silvery gray–green tonality is equally reminiscent of the earlier Spanish master, Velázquez, whose paintings Goya had studied and copied.

Goya probably painted this portrait on the occasion of the marquesa's first marriage, to Francisco de Monino y Redondo, brother of the all–powerful Count of Floridablanca, another of Goya's noble patrons.

Doña María Ana de Pontejos y Sandoval, Marchioness of Pontejos (es: Doña María Ana de Pontejos y Sandoval, marquesa de Pontejos) (1762–18 July 1834) was a patron of the artist Francisco José de Goya y Lucientes. In 1786 at the age of twenty-four, she married the brother of the Count of Floridablanca (Conde de Floridablanca), King Charles III of Spain’s progressive prime minister. At that time, her husband served as Spain’s ambassador to Portugal.

In the famous painting by Goya, painted shortly after the wedding, the marchioness is shown dressed in an attire inspired by Queen Marie Antoinette of France. Marie Antoinette was known to like to dress as a shepherdess. The elaborate coiffure, straw sun hat, and flower-trimmed gown imitate the attire at the French court in Versailles. This extravagant, foreign-influenced costume accentuates the marchioness’s tightly corseted waist, fashionable among Spanish noblewomen. Her erect, regal bearing and aloof gaze derive from Diego Velázquez' royal portraits.

In her right hand, she delicately holds a pink carnation, an emblem of love that is often shown held by brides. The marchioness’s pug dog at her feet, with its ribbons and bells, echoes the stiff, doll-like pose of its mistress.

Goya used the outdoors as a setting. In the background, green trees can be seen, which are not very detailed and contrast with the white dress of the marchioness.