The National Gallery has announced that a pair of rarely lent royal portraits will be coming to London as part of the Goya exhibition, which opens at the Gallery on the 7th October.

Charles IV in Hunting Dress and Maria Luisa Wearing a Mantilla, both painted in 1799, are last minute loans from the Patrimonio Nacional in Spain, and this is only the second time the portraits have left Spain.

Charles IV in Hunting Dress
Charles IV in Hunting Dress, 1799, Francisco de Goya.Colecciones Reales, Patrimonio Nacional, Palacio Real de Madrid © Patrimonio Nacional.

The royal portraits are considered to be of major importance to the artistic heritage of Spain are still in their original gilt wood frames, having hung in the Palacio Real, Madrid ever since they were created by Goya in 1799.

Maria Luisa with Mantilla 1799
Francisco de Goya,María Luisa wearing a Mantilla, 1799 Colecciones Reales, Patrimonio Nacional, Palacio Real de Madrid © Patrimonio Nacional.

The exhibition will trace Francisco de Goya’s career, from his early beginnings at the court of Madrid to his appointment as First Court Painter to Charles IV and as a favourite portrait artist of the Spanish aristocracy.

Dr Gabriele Finaldi, Director of the National Gallery said: “We are very honoured to receive these iconic and highly important paintings on loan from Patrimonio Nacional. The arrival of this pair of exceptional paintings by Goya from the Royal Palace in Madrid presents the unique opportunity to witness Goya’s development as a royal portraitist, displayed in the context of his remarkable career”.

The paintings will be displayed in the same room as the Duchess of Alba , painted two years earlier in 1797. By displaying the Duchess of Alba and Maria Luisa Wearing a Mantilla in the same room, it offers visitors a rare opportunity to see these two women opposite each other, both wearing the black lace mantilla -typical of maja costume.

José Luis Díez, Director of Collections at the Royal Palace of Madrid said: “Due to the fragility of the works, the two portraits have not left the palace for two decades and, even then, only very occasionally have been lent on an individual basis to temporary exhibitions. Given the importance of the exhibition and given the outstanding reputation of the venue, the National Gallery, London, The Board of Directors of the Patrimonio Nacional has quite exceptionally authorized the loan of this superb pair of portraits.”

Goya: The Portraits opens at the National Gallery on the 7th October and will be on display to the public until the 10th January 2016. 

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