A young naked woman lies with her hands behind her head and her legs slightly bent on a crumpled bed. On a pale face, framed by curly dark hair, there are huge black eyes, a small, slightly smiling mouth and patches of blush, too bright to be real.
The body of this woman does not resemble either the conventionally antique goddesses of the Italian Renaissance, or the magnificent ladies of the Baroque, or the porcelain beauties of rocaille. Strictly speaking, if you do not pay attention to the puppet makeup and excessive whiteness of the body, this is finally the image of a living, real woman – folded gracefully, but not without flaws, lying on the bed in a seductive (albeit a little awkward) pose, not pretending to be Venus , neither Danae nor Bathsheba. For once, the viewer is not distracted from nakedness by jewelry, maids, or fussing cupids, for once the artist does not make flirtatious attempts to cover the heroine’s chest and bosom with translucent draperies, for once her body does not seem to be marble, nor satin – it is real down to the sparse growth of reddish hair in the lower abdomen.
The first contender for the role of Goya’s model has long been considered Maria Caetana de Silva, the 13th Duchess of Alba. Cayetana Alba, the great-granddaughter of the “executioner of the Netherlands” Duke of Alba, was beautiful, headstrong, daring, unpredictable, and undoubtedly, without much embarrassment, would undress in front of an artist (and, presumably, a lover). In addition, her origin, name and the popularity that she enjoyed in Spain allowed her, not being particularly afraid to commit acts both on the verge of decency and on the verge of law.
The supporters of this hypothesis are not confused by the very vague similarity of the “Mach” face with the surviving portraits of Caetana – after all, Goya is known for his ability to make features anonymous.
Josefa (Pepa) Tudo, the mistress and (possibly) secret wife of the all-powerful first minister of Spain, Manuel Godoy, the favorite of Queen Marie-Louise, is considered the second candidate for the role of “Mach”.
Year of painting: 1800.
Dimensions of the painting: 98 x 191 cm.
Writing technique: oil.
Gallery: Prado, Madrid, Spain.