Francisco José de Goya y Lucientes (1746-1828)
Portrait of Doña Antonia Zárate, c. 1805-1806
Oil on canvas, 103.5 x 82 cm
Presented, Sir Alfred and Lady Beit, 1987 (Beit Collection)
The sitter was a famous actress, the daughter of Pedro de Zárate Valdés, also an actor. She married the singer Bernardo Gil y Aguado and their son Antonio Gil y Zárate was to become a renowned poet and playwright.
In the picture her black dress and lace mantilla create a strong contrast with the yellow sofa on which she sits. In her hand she holds a fleco, a fan, and her arms are covered with white, silky, fingerless gloves. Her gaze is slightly melancholic, while a pinch of irony appears in her smile. This painting is among a number of beautiful female portraits that Goya executed before the Peninsula War. He greatly admired the theatre and its protagonists, and painted many of their portraits. A few years later the señora Zárate sat for him again, and that portrait, on a smaller scale, is today in the Hermitage Museum, St Petersburg.
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