Portrait of Maria Isabel of Braganza

Portrait of Maria Isabel of Braganza
Portrait of Maria Isabel of Braganza

Possibly this portrait made in 1829 byBernardo López Piquer(1799 – 1874) is by no means the best work of his time, nor ofneoclassical stylein Spain. We must not forget that this artist was undoubtedly a good painter, but he came to carry out important works thanks to being the son of Vicente López, undoubtedly a better portraitist than him, who came to immortalize Francisco de Goya himself.


Portrait of Maria Isabel de Bragança

In fact, Bernardo shared many commissions with his father, and also clients. And it is that his style is practically a replica of his father's. However, the most valuable thing about this work is not the artist's technique, but the person he has portrayed. The Queen María Isabel de Braganza, who was the second wife of the Spanish King Ferdinand VII, and who above all deserves to be remembered in the history of art for being the founder of Museo del Prado in Madrid, where of course this work hangs today.

This woman was of Portuguese origin and she came toSpainin 1816 to marry the Spanish monarch, who was her uncle. However, she had a very short life, as she passed away in 1818 during childbirth. So the painting was made several years after the character's death. And for this the artist resorted to other previous portraits, one of them made by his own father Vicente.

And we see a woman with all heraristocratic distinctions that allude to the Portuguese and Spanish kingdoms. But it is curious that she, above all, appears as the founder of theRoyal Museum of Painting and Sculpture, the future El Prado, whose building can be seen through the window. In fact, the queen herself was an honorary academician at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts of San Fernando and closely followed the development of the work on the Juan de Villanueva buildingwhich was actually destined to become the Cabinet of Natural History.

The painter shows us the woman looking directly at us, the spectators, and with her right hand she points to the window and the museum building as it would be then. While her other hand is resting on a table with the project plans. In other words, the artist has chosen to present her as a character of great cultural importance. And of course he has poured all his know-how into recreating a careful composition, as well as the exquisite treatment of the textures and details of the objects. It is certainly the best work of Bernardo López and has become one of the reference images of the Museo del Prado, and even more so now in 2019 that marks the 200th anniversary of the opening of the great Madrid art gallery.

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