The painting is held in high esteem by both art lovers and critics, and it is believed to be a portrait of Rosario Weiss or her mother.
Goya never disclosed the name behind the model that was used. Therefore the painting is surrounded by much mystery. Leocadia was in fact Goya's nurse during his last years of life, this was during the time of his exile, when he resided in Bordeaux.
When Goya died, he left The Milkmaid of Bordeaux to his youngest child, Javier. Sadly, due to his many financial troubles, Javier had to sell the painting to Juan Bautista de Muguiro, who was a distant relative of the painter. On his death, in 1946, the painting was then given to the Museo del Prado. The painting is still housed there to this day.
The Milkmaid of Bordeaux is not without its controversy. Although much loved, many art critics have questioned its authenticity, with many believing that Rosario, who was herself a painter, may have been the artist who actually painted this iconic painting. Many critics though also dispute this claim, stating that when The Milkmaid of Bordeaux was compared to her other works, they seemed almost amateurish and not of the same artistic composition and style. Therefore, to declare her as the artist of the work is incredibly unlikely.
The Milkmaid of Bordeaux was in fact Goya's last painting of a female figure, and he chose hues of blue to represent both the woman and her surroundings. Many individuals in the art world place great significance upon the use of this colour choice, as it symbolises positivity and an archaic colour that had been used in the earliest works of art known to man. When we look at Goya's past creations, we note that he used the colour blue very little, so to create a painting that showcases a wide variety of blue shades, is indeed highly significant.
Goya painted The Milkmaid of Bordeaux for his own needs and enjoyment, as the work was not commissioned. At a time of exile, painting was obviously a recreational and enjoyable activity. This is when he began to experiment with applying the paint to the canvas and with different colours and techniques. alongside using brushes to paint with, he opted to also rags and a palette knife. When we observe The Milkmaid of Bordeaux, we can clearly see the wide brushstrokes that Goya made, that give the painting an almost impressionist feel. The use of different methods in applying the paint to the canvas, may also have been because of Goya's age and reduced vision.
What we observe in The Milkmaid of Bordeaux is a woman who is sat on the ground looking thoughtfully downwards. We cannot place where she is, as very little of the scenery can be seen, and what we do see is in hues of blue. She wears a blue cap and swirling blue dress. The overall emotion of the image is that of peace and tranquility.