The Countess of Baena Francisco de Goya Buy Art Prints Now
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Tom Gurney BSc (Hons) is an art history expert with over 20 years experience
Published on June 19, 2020 / Updated on October 14, 2023
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This lesser known artwork from Goya was completed in 1819, making it one of his very last paintings. By this point, he was an elderly men who had struggled with poor health for many years. Somehow, he was still able to produce beautiful portraits, just as that shown here.

There has been some controversy over the identification of the subject of this painting, with some doubting whether or not it is actually the Countess of Baena. This painting was actually discovered by chance in 1828, at the Quinta del Sordo and very little documentation came with it to provide any further clues. It has also not been considered prominent enough within the artist's career to warrant scientific research in order to learn more about the piece. It is generally the works owned by the major galleries of Europe that are given this treatment, because of the cost involved in hiring the finest minds to carefully investigate the layers of oil without leaving a trace of interference. We can certainly see similarities to two of Goya's most famous paintings, La Maja Desnuda and The Clothed Maja, but this piece was undeniably completed much later, right towards the end of his career.

The composition itself features a female figure lying down, with her left arm leaning on a raised part of furniture. Her facial expression is serious and she looks directly at the viewer. Her outfit is formal, with long gloves that reach beyond her elbows. The furniture is most likely a traditional divan, with cushions moved to one side in order to allow her to lean with the correct angle. The lighting is dark throughout, and particularly so in the background which is done this way in order to avoid distracting one's eye.

The small gallery of Museum Zuloaga, Zumaia, Spain owns this artwork today. The museum displays much from that artist's career, as well as many items from his own private collection that he built up over the course of his lifetime. As well as The Countess of Baena, there are also other notable pieces from El Greco, Goya, Zurbarán and Rodin. There is also a focus on Basque art, which reflects the background of the artist and collector, Ignacio Zuloaga, and offers an important element to the nation's culture that can sometimes be forgotten, or at least undervalued somewhat. The painting itself is believed to have originally been in the Domínguez Carrascal collection, in Madrid before being purchased by the artist for his growing collection.