María Cayetana de Silva, 13th Duchess of Alba
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|The Most Excellent
The Duchess of Alba
The White Duchess by Francisco de Goya, 1795
|Spouse(s)||José María Alvarez de Toledo y Gonzaga, 15th Duke of Medina-Sidonia|
María de la Luz (adopted)
Spanish: Doña María del Pilar Teresa Cayetana de Silva Álvarez de Toledo y Silva Bazán, décimo tercera duquesa de Alba de Tormes, décima primera duquesa de Huéscar, sexta duquesa de Montoro, octava condesa-duquesa de Olivares, décimo primera marquesa del Carpio, décimo tercera marquesa de Coria, novena marquesa de Eliche, décimo segunda marquesa de Villanueva del Río, sexta marquesa de Tarazona, marquesa de Flechilla y Jarandilla, décimo primera condesa de Monterrey, décimo cuarta condesa de Lerín, décimo tercera condesa de Oropesa, décimo cuarta Condestablesa de Navarra, décimo segunda condesa de Galve, décimo cuarta condesa de Osorno, de jure duquesa de Galisteo, décimo primera condesa de Ayala, novena condesa de Fuentes de Valdepero, condesa de Alcaudete, condesa de Deleitosa, señora del estado de Valdecorneja, señora de las baronías de Dicastillo, San Martín, Curton y Guissens
|Noble family||House of Alba|
June 10, 1762|
|Died||July 23, 1802
Sanlúcar la Mayor, Andalusia, Spain
Doña María del Pilar Teresa Cayetana de Silva-Álvarez de Toledo y Silva, 13th Duchess of Alba de Tormes, Grandee of Spain (full name, see infobox; 10 June 1762 – 23 July 1802), was a Spanish aristocrat and a popular subject of the painter Francisco de Goya y Lucientes.
María del Pilar Teresa Cayetana de Silva Alvarez de Toledo became the 13th Duchess of Alba in 1776. Her marriage to José María Alvarez de Toledo y Gonzaga, 15th Duke of Medina-Sidonia, made her and her husband the wealthiest couple in the Kingdom of Spain; their only rivals to this title were the House of Osuna.
The Duchess' relationship with famed Spanish painter Francisco Goya and her somewhat eccentric personality have contributed greatly to a continuing interest in her life during the two centuries since her death. Goya executed several well-known portraits of the duchess, most of them during his stay at Sanlúcar de Barrameda (one of the Andalusian country seats of the House of Medina-Sidonia), shortly after the death of her husband, the Duke of Medina-Sidonia, in 1796.
Goya's accompaniment of the recently widowed Duchess combined with certain innuendo expressed in his portraits of her have exacerbated rumors that the two were lovers. Although this has never been confirmed, the sheer number of portraits the artist painted of the duchess certainly suggests, at the very least, a close platonic relationship between the two.
The painting La maja desnuda, executed between 1797 and 1800 by Goya, has also been rumored to portray her. The painting, considered scandalous by Spanish society of the time, depicts a fully nude reclining woman. It, together with a companion piece depicting the same model clothed, La maja vestida, was commissioned by Spanish Prime Minister Manuel de Godoy (the known lover of Spain's queen, María Luisa).
The true identity of the Majas is uncertain. Many art historians over the years have rejected the possibility that the painting depicts the duchess, including Australian art critic Robert Hughes in his 2003 biography, Goya. Those scholars believe that the painting depicts either Godoy's young mistress or an idealized composite of several different models.
Death and succession
The Duchess died under somewhat mysterious circumstances in July 1802 at the age of 40. Although her death was ostensibly due to tuberculosis and a fever, more colorful scenarios have been suggested over the years, among them a theory that she was poisoned (this theory was dramatized in the film The Naked Maja). She had no biological issue although she did have an adoptive daughter, known as María de la Luz.
Images by Francisco Goya
Doubted to represent the Duchess
- Hobbs, Nicolas (2007). "Grandes de España" (in Spanish). Retrieved 15 October 2008.
- Instituto de Salazar y Castro. Elenco de Grandezas y Titulos Nobiliarios Españoles (in Spanish). periodic publication.
Fernando de Silva
|Duchess of Alba
Carlos Fitz-James Stuart
Francisco de Silva
|Duchess of Huéscar
Fernando de Silva
|Countess of Modica
Carlos Fitz-James Stuart