Portait of Maria Teresa, 1783 by Francisco Goya

Goya's major portrait commissions began in 1783 when he was thirty-seven. In August and September of that year, Goya painted a suite of family likenesses at the request of the Spanish king Carlos III's younger brother, including this charming image of the prince's daughter.

At the lower left, Goya inscribed in Spanish: "The Senorita Dona Teresa, daughter of the Most Serene Infante, Don Luis, at the age of two years and nine months." The child actually was four and a half; why Goya misstated his royal sitter's age is unknown. As an adult, Teresa was married to Manuel Godoy, the infamously corrupt prime minister to Carlos IV. Her support of Spanish independence during the Napoleonic wars brought her great popularity.

Teresa stands on the terrace of her father's country palace near Avila, in the mountains west of Madrid. Goya adapted this format from Spain's seventeenth-century court artist, Diego Velazquez, who had portrayed royal children outdoors with dogs. Goya worked rapidly, often improvising his designs; this and the loose, fluid brushstrokes also follow Velázquez' example.