Saturday, January 7, 2012

A "Bold Piece"

The book I'm writing now involves a lot of research into the art of the period, something I enjoy very much. I thought I'd share this pair of Goya portraits from the Prado Museum: The Naked Maja (c. 1797-1800) and The Clothed Maja (ca. 1803). The model may have been the Duchess of Alba, rumored to be the artist's lover. She certainly looks like a very sexy woman.  By the way, I love the lace-trimmed pillows, but doesn't the nude appear to be occupying a Lazy-Boy recliner?


  1. The clothing off image has an effortlessness that the second portrait cannot, in my opinion, match. Lovely.

  2. Note the awkwardness of the head and neck's positions. That is one of the reasons that has led many to believe that the body of the model belonged to someone else, to the Duchess. Of course, Goya wanted it that way. Miranda, I wish you could see the wonderful treatment of the clothes, the shimmer of the fabric.
    And Sophie, you are right. The body is beautiful.

  3. I think the artist like the naked one better - the lace is more intricate & the expression on her face is more satisfied.

  4. I usually like nudes, but the second painting is lovely, while the first is merely nice. That doesn't often happen with me.

  5. I love the first..the nude. The second, clothed just makes the woman look claustrophobic, the clothes look too binding.

  6. @Sophie. I have to wonder about the model's undergarments. Clothes don't cling like that if you're wearing the correct stays, petticoats etc.

    @adelaide. That's a very interesting point. Someone else said she thought the heads look "photoshopped."

    @Di "I think the artist liked the naked one better." I wonder why? Seriously, I think you are right.

    @Megan And another vote for the nude. I think both paintings are stunning. There's something challenging and immediate about the sitter's expression. One feels the involvement of the artist. He's not a dispassionate observer.

    @Cherry A vote for the clothed figure! I do adore the clothes - the pink sash and the gold shawl thing.

  7. Miranda -

    I definately the first portrait is more realistic!

    Fortunately my husband doesn't favor "full figure" women! When we married I wore a bra that was an AA and it was too big! Fortunately I had two children and finally got to graduate to a A size bra! Good thing it was in the 1970's and Twiggy and not Marily Monroe was an icon!

  8. Artists would do (still do) repeated sketches and paintings of various subjects for study purposes. These were not necessarily completed. The nude in particular could be the preliminary study for the clothed figure on the bottom. I was fortunate to see an exhibit of Goya's paintings at the National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C., in 1982. It took my breath away.