Queen Isabella "La Católica" dictating her last will and Testament

Historical painting is a genre that came into fashion in the second half of the 19th century. The selection of paintings of this genre in the Prado are works by painters who were given scholarships to study in Rome, and who were subsequently awarded Spain´s National Painting Prize, which they had to win in order to become known. Joaquín Sorolla himself, the painter of light and the Mediterranean, applied for Prize, despite the genre being very different from his own.

The artist who painted this picture, Rosales, had to cope with great difficulties during his life, in particular a dreadful illness that was gradually turning him blind. This is his most famous painting, The Last Will and Testament of Isabella, in which he has avoided grandiose poses. In the centre of the composition he shows us the bed on which the queen lies, pale and dying, surrounded by her loved ones. Seated beside her bed is her husband, King Ferdinand, and beside him stands his daughter, Joan the Mad. The scribe at the writing stand is taking down the sovereign´s last wishes. Other courtiers surround her, amongst them Cardinal Cisneros. They all form an intimate group around the queen that is far removed from the academic and monumental style of other painters of this genre. This painting is considered a masterpiece of historical painting.

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