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Eugenia Martínez Vallejo, Naked
Carreño de Miranda, Juan
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Carreño de Miranda, Juan

Avilés, Asturias (Spain), 1614 - Madrid (Spain), 1685

Carreño de Miranda, Juan See author's file

Eugenia Martínez Vallejo, Naked

Ca. 1680. Oil on canvas.
Room 016A

After the death of Velázquez, Carreño showed himself to be the artist most worthy of continuing the depiction of monsters, jesters, and dwarves that inhabited the Spanish court. Inventories show that the Alcázar possessed a large number of portraits of this kind by Carreño, among which are the two of the Monster, as well as others that have unfortunately disappeared. The few that have come down to our own day show, at any rate, that Carreño approached these individuals as Velázquez had, seeking to dignify their image as much as possible.

The name of the girl depicted in this painting is Eugenia Martínez Vallejo, and she was born in Bárcenas. In 1680, she was brought to court to be admired as a monstrous manifestation of nature. She was six years old at the time, and already weighed almost 70 kilos, or 154 pounds. She probably only attended celebrations and gatherings in the palace in order to be seen by the royals and their guests, for according to José Moreno Villa (who found no financial accommodation for her in the palace records), she appears not to have been a part of the service-class at court. In that same year of her arrival, Juan Cabezas published his True Relation in Which Notice is Given of a Great Prodigy of Nature That Has Arrived at This Court, in the Person of a Giant Girl-Child Called Eugenia, Born in Barcena [sic], in the Archbishopric of Burgos. The publication was illustrated with a woodcut and republished in Seville and Valencia. Through Cabezas we know that Charles II commissioned the second Apelles of our own Spain, the famed Juan Carreño, his painter and aide-de-chambre, to paint a portrait in two manners, one nude and the other in fine dress.

The description of Eugenia written by Cabezas could not have been more sympathetic, showing how far Carreño must have gone to infuse some degree of dignity into her enormous figure: She is white and her face is not terribly unpleasant, although very large. Her head, face, neck, and other features are of the size of two men’s heads, or thereabout. Her stature is that of an ordinary woman, but her massiveness that of two women. Her belly is so vast that it equals that of the largest Woman in the World when she is within days of giving birth. Her Thighs are so very thick and fleshy that they ride one upon the other, and they conceal from sight her private parts. Her legs are little less than the Thigh of a man, and they and her Thighs have such rolls of flesh that they ride one upon the other with shocking monstrosity, and although the feet are in proportion to the Edifice of flesh they sustain, the result is that they are almost like those of a man. She moves and walks with some effort, due to the inordinate greatness of her body. Which weighs five arrobas [125 pounds] and twenty-one pounds, a thing unheardof at such a young age. In 1941, Gregorio Marañón pointed out that this young girl represented the first known case of hypercorticism, and also that from the girl’s decisive grasp on the fruit in the portrait of her clothed, she must be left-handed.

To show Eugenia naked, Carreño employed an approach extremely rare in Spanish painting: the mythological portrait. He placed the girl against a neutral background and had her lean on a pedestal laden with bunches of grapes; he crowned her with grape vines with the leaves and fruit and in her left hand had her hold another bunch of grapes, whose leaves covered her sex. Costumed, then, as Bacchus or Silenus, Eugenia lost much of the freakishness of her appearance and could almost have been confused with a depiction of Bacchus as a child.

It is possible that the two paintings of Eugenia were still unfinished upon the painter’s death, though he kept them in his workshop until the end, in 1685.

The nude, along with the other painting of the pair, The Monster Dressed in Finery, was in the royal collections until 1827. After being taken to the Alcázar (inventories of 1686 and 1694), it went to the Zarzuela Palace, where it appears in the inventory taken in 1701. In 1827, the Monster Dressed came to the Prado, while according to Pedro de Madrazo, the nude was given as a gift by Ferdinand VII to artist Juan Gálvez. Gálvez must have sold it very soon after to the Infante Sebastián Gabriel, in whose possession it was by 1843. Upon the Infante’s death, the painting went to his eldest son, the Duke of Marchena, and it was later (at an uncertain date) purchased by José González de la Peña, Baron de Forna, who in 1939 donated it to the Prado, making it possible for the two portraits to be reunited (Álvarez Lopera, J.: El Greco to Goya. Masterpieces from the Prado Museum, Museo de Arte de Ponce, 2012, pp. 126-127).


Technical data

Related artworks

Inventory number
Carreño de Miranda, Juan
Eugenia Martínez Vallejo, Naked
Ca. 1680
Height: 165 cm; Width: 108 cm
Royal Collection (Real Alcázar, Madrid, pinturas traídas de casa de Carreño a las bóvedas de Tiziano y cuarto bajo del príncipe, 1686, s.n.; Palacio de La Zarzuela, El Pardo-Madrid, retrete de la reina, 1701, s.n.; La Zarzuela, pieza primera, 1747, nº 3); Juan Gálvez; col. infante Sebastián Gabriel de Borbón; duque de Marchena; Museo del Prado (bequest of José Antonio González de la Peña, barón de Forna), 1939.

Bibliography +

Cabezas, J, Relación verdadera en que se da noticia de los prodigios de la naturaleza que han llegado a esta corte, en una niña gigante llamada Eugenia Martínez de la villa de Bárcena, del arzobispado de Burgos., Madrid, 1680.

Inventario Palacio de Madrid. 1686, Madrid, 1686, pp. 75/ lám.47.

Madrazo, Pedro, Catálogo descriptivo e histórico del Museo del Prado de Madrid, Madrid, 1872, pp. 664, n. 691.

Allende-Salazar, J. Sánchez Cantón, F. J., Retratos del Museo del Prado: identificación y rectificaciones, Julio Cosano, Madrid, 1919, pp. 245-246.

Sánchez Cantón, F. J., La monstrua desnuda de Carreño en el Museo del Prado, El Correo Erudito, Madrid, 1940, pp. 13.

Marañon, G., 'La monstrua de Carreño' El primer caso conocido de síndrome hipercortical, El Correo Erudito, 1945, pp. 105.

Palomino, A., El Parnaso español pintoresco y laureado, Aguilar, Madrid, 1947, pp. 1029.

Castillo de Lucas, Antonio, Algunos temas médicos en el Museo del Prado, Arte español : revista de la Sociedad de Amigos del Arte, 19, 1952-53, pp. 26.

Tietze-Conrat, E., Dwarfs and Jesters in Art, Phaidon, Londres, 1957, pp. 16.

Marzolf, R., The Life and Work of Juan Carreño de Miranda 1614-1685, Universidad de Michigan, Ann Arbor, 1961, pp. 90-91, 170-172.

Onieva, Antonio Juan, La Mitologia en el Museo del Prado, Offo, Madrid, 1972, pp. 38.

Inventarios reales: testamentaria del Rey Carlos II : 1701-1, Museo del PradoPatronato Nacional de Museos, Madrid, 1975, pp. 190.

Licht, Fred, Goya. The Origins of the Modern Temper in Art, John Murray Ltd., Londres, 1980, pp. 89/ lám.38.

Velázquez y la pintura española de su tiempo : cuadros del M, Museo Nacional, Tokio, 1980.

El arte en la época de Calderón, Ministerio de Cultura, Madrid, 1981, pp. 48.

López Torrijos, Rosa, La mitología en la pintura española del siglo XVII, Editorial de la Universidad Complutense, Madrid, 1982, pp. 972,1202.

Prinz Von Hohenzollern, J.G., Von Greco Bis Goya. Vier Jahrhunderte Spanische Malerei, Haus Der Kunst, Munich, 1982, pp. 120.

Museo Nacional del Prado, Catálogo de las pinturas, Museo del Prado, Madrid, 1985, pp. 134.

Fernandez-Castañon, J.A., Juan Carreño de Miranda y la Pintura Barroca Madrileña, Centro Regional de Bellas Artes, Avilés, 1985, pp. 191 lám 6.

Carreño, Rizi, Herrera y la pintura madrileña de su tiempo :, Ministerio de Cultura: Banco Herrero, Madrid, 1986, pp. 228-229, n. 49-50.

Monstruos, enanos y bufones en la Corte de los Austrias: (a propósito del ''Retrato de enano'' de Juan Van der Hamen) / [comisario de la exposición, Manuela B. Mena Marqués], Amigos del Museo del Prado, Madrid, 1986, pp. 110.

Palomino de Castro y Velasco, Acisclo Antonio1653-1726, Vidas, Alianza Editorial, 1986, pp. 288-289.

De Greco à Picasso, Ministerio de Cultura, Madrid, 1987, pp. 193.

Castillo-Ojugas, Antonio, La Reumatologia en el Arte, Emisa, Madrid, 1987, pp. 23/ lám.34.

Castillo-Ojugas, Antonio, Una visita médica al Museo del Prado, You & Us, Madrid, 1998, pp. 63.

Museo Nacional del Prado, Velázquez, Rubens, Lorrain: Malerei am Hof Philipps IV, Kunst-und Ausstellungshalle der Bundesrepublik Deu, Bonn, 1999, pp. 224.

Bartra, Roger, El Salvaje Europeo, Centre de Cultura Contemporánea, Barcelona, 2004.

Álvarez Lopera, J., ''La Monstrua'' desnuda (Baco) (h. 1680). En: Ruiz Gómez, L.: El retrato español en el Prado. Del Greco a Goya, Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid, 2006, pp. 114-115, n. 33.

Pintura española de El Greco a Picasso : el tiempo, la verda..., Sociedad Estatal para la Acción C, 2006, pp. 372-373.

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López Vizcaíno, Pilar, Juan Carreño de Miranda: vida y obra, Ángel Mario Carreño, Oviedo, 2007, pp. 384.

Ruíz Gómez, L., El retrato español en el Museo del Prado (1490-1800), En: Ruíz Gómez, L.; Barón, J. El retrato español en el Prado. Del Greco a Sorolla, Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid, 2010, pp. 23.

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Barroco exuberante: de Cattelan a Zurbarán. Manifiestos de precariedad vital, Guggenheim Bilbao, Bilbao, 2013, pp. 138.

Alonso, J. R., La ''Monstrua'' y el síndrome de Prader-Willi., 2013.

Rodriguez Rebollo, Angel, 'A propósito de Luca Giordano: Los Reales Sitios durante el reinado de Carlos II. Una Aproximación a través de los Inventarios. Pinturas religiosas.. Luca Giordano... por Carlos II...1686 y 1700... Inventario... pinturas salvadas.. Incendio del Alcazar...1734' En: Carlos II y el arte de su tiempo, Fundación Universitaria Española, Madrid, 2014, pp. 107-155 [125 nt.78].

Pérez Rojas, Francisco Javier, 'Sorolla - Zuloaga. Impresión y expresión de la pintura de fin de siglo en España' En: Del realismo al impresionismo, Fundación Amigos Museo del Prado - Galaxia Gutenberg, Madrid, 2014, pp. 333-363 [349].

Llacer Viel, Teresa, 'Cuerpos contrahechos en la Corte del Rey enfermo. Enanos y gigantes en el pincel de Carreño de Miranda (1670-1682)' En: Valor discursivo del cuerpo en el barroco hispánico, Universitat de València,, 2015, pp. 439-452 [442, 446-447 f.3].

Jabato Dehesa, Mª Jesús, Breve noticia de Eugenia Martínez Vallejo, la monstrua, una burgalesa en la Corte de los Austrias, Boletín de la Institución Fernán González, 1, 2018, pp. 127-146 [135-145].

Other inventories +

Inv. Testamentaría Carlos II, La Zarzuela, 1701-1703. Núm. s. n..
Rettrette de la reyna [...] {50} Ottros Dos rettrattos de la monstrua de mano de Carreño de dos Uaras de altto y mas de Uara de ancho el Uno estta en cueros y el Ottro Uestido tassados a Ueinte doblones Cada Uno ... 40 / Existen en pieza 1ª. a los numeros 3 y 4.

Catálogo Museo del Prado, 1942-1996. Núm. 2800.

Inv. Felipe IV, Alcázar de Madrid, 1686. Núm. s. n..
Pinturas desmontadas [...] Pinturas que se trajeron de Casa de Carreño y están en las Bóvedas del Tiçiano y cuarto bajo del Príncipe [...] {1512-1513} Dos Retratos de la Monstrua el vno bestido y el otro desnudo originales de mano de Carreño.

Inv. Felipe V, La Zarzuela, 1747. Núm. 3.
Pieza Primera [...] 3 / Un Baco desnudo sin marco de siete quartas de alto, y mas de vara de ancho

Inv. Nuevas Adquisiciones (iniciado en 1856). Núm. 1697.
Autor, Carreño. / 1697. Asunto, la monstrua desnuda. / Lienzo, 165 x 108 cm. / Nº catalogo 2800 / Donado en Sepbre. de 1939 por el Baron de Forna... / (D. Jose Antonio Gonzalez de la Peña).

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El retrato español en el Prado. Del Greco a Goya
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Nueva York NY
15.11.2006 - 31.03.2007

El retrato español en el Prado. Del Greco a Goya
19.09.2006 - 26.11.2006

El retrato español en el Prado. Del Greco a Goya
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18.02.2004 - 23.05.2004

Velázquez, Rubens, Claudio de Lorena y la pintura en la corte de Felipe IV
07.10.1999 - 23.01.2000

Scienza e miracoli nell´arte del seicento. Alle origini della medicina moderna. (Ciencia y milagro en el arte del seiscientos)
18.03.1998 - 02.06.1998

Pintura mejicana y pintura española de los Siglos XVI al XVIII
México D.F.
20.07.1991 - 31.08.1991

Cinco Siglos de Arte Español
05.10.1987 - 05.01.1988

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12.01.1981 - 09.03.1981

Velázquez y la pintura española de su tiempo
28.10.1980 - 31.12.1980

Location +

Room 016A (On Display)

Update date: 21-09-2022 | Registry created on 28-04-2015

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