Day 304: Señora Delicado de Imaz, by Vicente López y Portaña

López Portaña, Vicente Señora de Delicado Imaz

Day 304: Señora Delicado de Imaz, by Vicente López y Portaña

The portrait of Señora Delicado de Imaz by Vicente López y Portaña is arguably one of the most talked about works in the Portrait of Spain exhibition at the QAG. This is most likely due to the sheer visual dichotomy between the lady’s ostentatious finery and the lack of physical beauty (as far as the contemporary appreciation of this issue is concerned).

Indeed, Señora Delicado de Imaz wears a splendid fashionable gown of blue velvet, richly decorated with flounces of exquisitely delicate lace; her hair is arranged in an elaborately fashionable style culminating in the Apollo knot; sumptuous jewellery adorns the lady’s head, shoulders, and wrists. The fashionable opulence of this ‘woman of a certain age’ is paradoxically juxtaposed in the portrait to a rather masculine face; bushy eyebrows that almost meet in the middle, and the noticeably downy upper lip and chin.

According to the catalogue article, the portrait shows that López y Portaña, then at the height of his fame as an elite portrait specialist, was not a courtly or aristocratic toady, and did not shy away from the realistic portrayal of his august sitters, in keeping with the veristic tradition of his predecessors Velazquez and Goya.

I, however, am also tempted to consider this portrait of Señora Delicado de Imaz through the prism of an article by Susan Sidlauskas, “Not-beautiful: a counter-theme in the history of women’s portraiture” [in Shifrin, Susan (ed), Re-framing Representations of Women: Figuring, Fashioning, Portraiting, and Telling in the ‘Picturing’ Women Project, Aldershot: Ashgate Publishing, 2008]. Her essay examines portraits of ‘ladies of a certain age’ by Ingres, and contrasts them against the idealised portraits of his younger female sitters. She argues that portraits like these were created at the time when ‘women of a certain age’ were no longer supposed to be objects of sexual desire; and therefore artists of the era, such as Ingres, López y Portaña, and others intentionally portrayed older women as lacking in physical allure.

http://qagoma.qld.gov.au/ / http://www.museodelprado.es/


[© Eugene Barilo von Reisberg 2012; where applicable, images are courtesy of the artists and their galleries.]

2 Responses to “Day 304: Señora Delicado de Imaz, by Vicente López y Portaña”

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Eugene Barilo v. Reisberg

October 2012


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