Portrait of Doña Isabel de Porcel 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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Spanish painter Francisco de Goya, around 1805, created the oil-on-canvas painting, Portrait of Doña Isabel de Porcel. Born in Ronda around 1780, Isabel Lobo Velasco de Porcel was the second wife of Antonio Porcel.

He was a good two and a half decades older than she was. Antonio met Goya through a friend of a friend. He was an associate and liberal of Manuel Godoy, Prince of Peace, a close acquaintance of Gaspar Melchor de Jovellanos. Gaspar then introduced Antonio to Francisco de Goya, who lived in the neighborhood at the time. The canvas painting is purportedly a gift from Goya in return for the hospitality extended to him.

Doña Isabel de Porcel

A woman wears an ornate lace shawl and diadem, known by the Spaniards as a mantilla, and glances in the direction of something or someone out of the picture. This woman is Doña Isabel de Porcel, or so says the inscription on the original canvases back. The image is made aristocratic by the lushness of her appearance and the textiles she wears. The pivotal motion in which she places her hands on her hips and the elbows curved outward oozes confidence. Her head gives balance by arching in the opposite direction of which she stands, with pale skin and light brown hair and eyes.

Before Goya painted a portrait of Antonio Porcel, in 1805, he exhibited a Doña Isabel portrait at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts located in Madrid. In 1980, an x-ray image of Antonio's painting was done. This occurred during conservation treatment when another portrait was found underneath unexpectedly. On Doña Isabel's chin, it barely shows the dark curve of an eyebrow and jacket stripes on her right hand's sleeve. Sadly, a fire destroyed this portrait of Doña Isabel's husband during a riot in 1953.

The National Gallery

For a long time, the portrait of Doña Isabel de Porcel is one of Goya's most striking and admirable portraits and one of the most outstanding and well-known National Gallery paintings. But some scientists recently posed questions about the portrait's attribution. Portrait of Doña Isabel de Porcel was purchased by the National Gallery in June 1896 for a mere £404. Among the first pictures of the artist and Goya's first portrait to make its way to the National Gallery. The month before, the National Gallery made its first purchases by Goya (A Picnic and A Scene from 'The Forcibly Bewitched'). When the Museum purchased the portrait, it no longer belonged to the ancestors of the sitter.

Portrait of Doña Isabel de Porcel in Detail Francisco de Goya