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Portrait of Doña Antonia Zárate by Francisco Goya – Hermitage Museum

Francisco-Goya - Portrait-of-the-Actress-Antonia-Zarate

Portrait of Doña Antonia Zárate by Francisco Goya

“The Portrait of Doña Antonia Zárate” by the Spanish artist Francisco Goya is a portrait of the actress Antonia Zárate. It was produced in Goya’s studio, and it shows her wearing most likely an outfit from one of her performances.

Antonia Zárate was the daughter of an actor and director of a performing company. She continued in the family tradition as an actress and singer with success throughout Spain but mainly acted in the Spanish capital, where she became a friend of Francisco Goya.

This portrait was painted in 1810 – 1811 and may have been derived from an earlier and larger picture painted in 1805. The face and hair are very similar. However, the background and dress are very different. This second painting is now in the National Gallery of Ireland.

Francisco de Goya y Lucientes - Portrait of Antonia Zárate

This “Portrait of Doña Antonia Zárate” is an 1810-1811 painting, now in the National Gallery of Ireland

Francisco Goya

Francisco José de Goya y Lucientes (1746 – 1828) was a Spanish painter and printmaker. He was the most important Spanish artist of the late 18th and early 19th centuries. Goya was famously successful in his lifetime, the last of the Old Masters and the first of the moderns.

He was born to a modest family in Aragon, Spain, and started the studied of painting from the age of 14. He married at the age of 27, and after a series of pregnancies and miscarriages, only one child, a son, survived into adulthood. Goya became the court painter to the Spanish Crown in 1786. This early part of his career is marked by portraits of the Spanish aristocracy and royalty. He also designed Rococo style tapestry cartoons designed for the royal palace.

Goya suffered a severe illness in 1793, which left him deaf. Sick and disillusioned, his work became progressively darker and pessimistic. His later paintings, prints, and drawings seem to reflect a bleaker outlook. In 1807 Napoleon led the French army into war against Spain. Goya remained in Madrid during the war, which appears to have affected him deeply. Works from this mid-period include a variety of paintings concerned with insanity, mental asylums, witches, fantastical creatures, and religious and political corruption. This suggests that he feared for both his country’s fate and his own psychological and physical health.

In Goya’s late period, he was disillusioned by the political and social developments in Spain, and he lived in near isolation. Goya eventually abandoned Spain in 1824 to retire to the French city of Bordeaux, accompanied by his younger maid and his companion. Following a stroke that left him paralyzed on his right side and suffering failing eyesight, he died and was buried in 1828, aged 82. His body was later re-interred in Madrid. Famously, however, Goya’s skull went missing, a detail the Spanish consul in France immediately communicated to his superiors in Madrid. The Spanish authorities wired back, “Send Goya, with or without a head.”

Portrait of Doña Antonia Zárate

  • Title:                 Portrait of Doña Antonia Zárate
  • Spanish:           Retrato de Doña Antonia Zárate
  • Artist:              Francisco de Goya
  • Created:           1810/11
  • Medium:          oil on canvas
  • Periods:            Baroque
  • Dimensions:    71 × 58 cm (28 × 22.8 in)
  • Museum:          Hermitage MuseumSaint Petersburg

Francisco Goya

A Tour of the Hermitage Museum


“Art is never finished, only abandoned.” 
– Leonardo da Vinci


Photo Credit 1) Francisco de Goya [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons