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Francisco de Goya, 'Doña Isabel de Porcel', before 1805

Key facts
Full title Doña Isabel de Porcel
Artist Francisco de Goya
Artist dates 1746 - 1828
Date made before 1805
Medium and support Oil on canvas
Dimensions 82 × 54.6 cm
Acquisition credit Bought, 1896
Inventory number NG1473
Location On loan: Masterpieces from the National Gallery, Chimei Museum, Tainan City, Taiwan
Collection Main Collection
Doña Isabel de Porcel
Francisco de Goya

A woman turns towards someone or something outside of the picture. She wears an elaborate lace shawl and headdress, known in Spain as a mantilla, the transparency of which is brilliantly conveyed.

The sitter is Doña Isabel de Porcel, according to an inscription on the back of the original canvas. Goya exhibited a portrait of Doña Isabel at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Madrid in 1805, a year before he painted a portrait of her husband. When an X-ray image was made of this painting during conservation treatment in 1980, another portrait was unexpectedly found underneath – you can just make out the dark curve of an eyebrow on Doña Isabel’s chin and the stripes of a jacket through her right sleeve.

Despite being painted with great flair and long considered one of Goya’s most dazzling portraits, doubts have recently been cast over whether it really is by Goya.

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