The Marquesa de Pontejos, 1786 by Francisco Goya

Dona Maria Ana de Pontejos y Sandoval delicately fingers a pink carnation, an emblem of love that is often shown held by brides. In 1786 at age twenty-four, she married the brother of the Conde de la Floridablanca, Carlos III's progressive prime minister. At that time, her husband served as Spain's ambassador to Portugal.

The marquesa's pug dog with its ribbons and bells echoes the stiff, doll-like pose of its mistress. Her elaborate coiffure, straw sun hat, and flower-trimmed gown imitate the attire of Marie-Antoinette, the French queen who sometimes dressed as a shepherdess. This extravagant, foreign-influenced costume accentuates the marquesa's tightly corseted waist, fashionable among Spanish noblewomen. Her erect, regal bearing and aloof gaze derive from royal portraits of Velazquez.

As a designer of tapestries, Goya eliminated unessential details that would have been difficult for the weavers to execute. This tendency toward simplified design affected his portraiture, too. The jade-green trees and pearl-gray dress here are described in broad, sketchy areas of color.