L a - b e a u t é - s a u v e r a - l e - m o n d e ~ D o s t o ï e v s k i

L a - b e a u t é - s a u v e r a - l e - m o n d e  ~  D o s t o ï e v s k i

Friday, October 19, 2018

Dos caprichos de Goya - The Duchess of Alba and "La Beata", 1795

The woman represented in both of these two paintings is believed to be Rafaela Luisa Velázquez, an elderly servant - dueña - of María Cayetana de Silva, the famous 13th Duchess of Alba; Velázquez was called by the nickname "La Beata", a word that signifies an excessively religious old woman. In the first painting, she is being harassed by Duchess - easily identified by her great curling mane of raven hair - and in the second, she is taunted by the Duchess' tiny adopted daughter, María de la Luz, and the equally tiny Luis de Berganza, son of the Duchess' majordomo, Tomás de Berganza, who eventually owned both paintings.

"La duquesa de Alba y su dueña, o La Duquesa de Alba y 'la Beata'."
"'La Beata', dueña de la duquesa de Alba, con los niños, Luis Berganza y María de la Luz."

Though married for twenty years - her husband, Don José Álvarez de Toledo Osorio y Gonzaga, 11th Marquis of Villafranca, jure uxoris Duke of Alba de Tormes, died at the age of thirty-nine, and she followed only six years later, at forty - the Duchess had no children of her own. But she had an adopted daughter, or goddaughter, María de la Luz - the daughter of a Cuban slave - who she was very close to. The child, affectionately called "La Negrita", was emancipated in 1796, and when the Duchess died - the little girl could not have been more than ten years old - she was left a generous sum of money in the Duchess' will, along with an annual income for the rest of her life.

The Duchess of Alba and María de la Luz, ink wash sketch by Goya, circa 1794-45.

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