In 1829, María Isabel de Borbón (1789-1848) visited Madrid for the wedding of her daughter, María Cristina, to her brother, King Ferdinand VII of Spain.

During the visit María Isabel sat for this magnificent portrait by Vicente López y Portaña, principal court painter to the Spanish king. López studied painting in his native Valencia and at the Royal Academy of Arts in Madrid. He gained a reputation as a superb portrait artist and teacher and in 1814 was appointed successor to Goya as principal court painter. He flourished at court, and painted insightful portraits of the Royal family, as well as of many notable people of the day, including Goya himself. LópezÂ’s portrait of María Isabel – daughter of Charles IV of Spain and wife of Francis I of the Two Sicilies – is a dazzling example of his art. In the painstaking renderings of the queenÂ’s impressive diamonds and sapphires, velvet and lace, it illustrates LópezÂ’s renowned skills for depicting jewellery and costume. Meanwhile, in the sitterÂ’s ruddy face and podgy forearms can be seen his unflinching approach to capturing a likeness. Three versions of this portrait are known to exist, of which this is the finest and possibly the original. It now becomes the first work by López to enter a British public collection, and the first Spanish portrait to be acquired by the Fitzwilliam Museum.


Painted in Madrid in 1829, probably given to or commissioned by the 13th Duque of Infantad; by descent to Teresa de Arteaga; their son Alvaro Moreno y de Arteaga; his son, Ivan Francisco de Asis de Cozar y Landahl; sold by auction, Madrid 2012; with Gale

Back to top