The Naked "Maja"

This is perhaps Goya’s most popular painting. It was a commission from Charles IV’s Prime Minister and favourite, Godoy. We know that the picture was cleverly hung in his private chambers, behind the Clothed Maja with a clever mechanism that made appear and disappear at the owner’s wish. It was placed near to Velazquez’s Venus with a Mirror, and other nudes painted by Titian.

She has always been hung alongside her partner, the Clothed Maja, which was painted a few years later, using a looser brushstrokes than the more painstaking ones you can see here in the Naked Maja.

Goya painted this nude front-on, showing her perfect female anatomy. The direct gaze and a slight, challenging smile on her lips, reveal his feminine ideal. Goya did not paint her as a goddess, as Titian or Velazquez were wont to do, but instead as a real flesh-and-blood woman.

The sitter’s identity is unknown. According to legend, it was the Duchess of Alba, who was a contemporary and friend of the artist. She has also been identified as Pepita Tudó, Godoy’s mistress at the time the picture was painted and whom he married years later. Both theories would appear to be unfounded.

(c) (R) 2013, MUSMon com S.L.
Text (a) Catalina Serrano Romero
English translation (a) Thisbe Burns