Today I return to my occasional series examining the artworks that have taken my fancy. I cannot remember the first time I saw the painting that is featured here today but I know it was many years ago, and I knew neither the artist nor sitter at the time. Happily I have remedied that, and it is my pleasure to share some thoughts on the Portrait of Doña Isabel de Porcel by Francisco Goya.
This oil on canvas work was completed in 1806 and shows Isabel Lobo Velasco de Porcel, wife of Goya's friend, Antonio de Porcel. Goya had enjoyed great hospitality courtesy of Porcel and intended that this portrait of the gentleman's much younger wife would be a suitable way to repay him for his friendship.
Porcel was a quarter of a century older than his second wife and she is twenty five years old in this portrait, and her dress is most evocative of her time and nationality. She has chosen to be painted wearing the dress of a maja, the black mantilla and bright fabrics beneath it lending her an air of simple national pride in addition to well-dressed style. Isabel wishes to be seen as a woman of fashion, taste and standing but one still in touch with her national identity and traditions.
Her pose is likewise carefully selected and she holds herself with confidence and poise, a faint smile playing about her lips. We are left in no doubt that Porcel is a lucky man to have such a wife and when I look at the portrait, I see a woman whom Goya clearly knew and counted as a friend. He captures something of her character in her expression, a playfulness and self assurance captured in oils that allows us a glimpse back in time at this fine Spanish lady.