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María de las Nieves Micaela Fourdinier, the painter's wife
Paret y Alcázar, Luis
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Paret y Alcázar, Luis

Madrid (Spain), 1746 - Madrid (Spain), 1799

Paret y Alcázar, Luis See author's file

María de las Nieves Micaela Fourdinier, the painter's wife

1783. Oil on copperplate.
Room 093

This portrait epitomises Rococo style and is one of the most delicate and sophisticated paintings of Paret’s oeuvre, both in terms of the subject and the technique. It depicts his wife, María de las Nieves Micaela Fourdinier, at the age of 26, after eight years of marriage and two daughters together, whom the painter portrayed in another copperplate (in a private collection) that forms a pair with this work.

The young woman is depicted in a domestic interior – as revealed by the silk and wallpaper – although a large curtain closes off the background, lending the scene an air of ostentatiousness. She is seated on a carefully carved and richly upholstered chair, in keeping with her clothing and hairstyle that are in the French fashion of the time, as proven by prints included in publications such as Gallerie des modes et costumes français, begun in 1778. In this publication, her hairstyle corresponds to the so-called coiffure simple à la mode, which is characterised by her hair being pulled up above her forehead, with three large curls on the sides, the lower one falling towards her neck, while the upper part is covered with a sort of bonnet adorned with a wide ribbon. Paret enriched the edge of the ribbon with pearls and flowers of various kinds, such as the Provence rose and orange blossom. The dress is modelled following the robe à la lévite, identifiable by its long, narrow sleeves, and corresponds to one of the examples included in that publication in its chest fastening of Brandenburg-style toggles – here gilded – like the tassels on the neckline and other ornamental elements of the frock coat, which is trimmed with fur on its edges, sleeves and collar.

The deep red of the coat contrasts with the silver of the silk dress, the sheen of which makes this area of the painting a fragment typical of El Greco. The exquisite attire is complemented by Micaela’s activity: she elegantly holds a music box, or serinette, with which she teaches the canary perched on it to sing. This instrument could have been acquired in Paris, and it has been suggested that Paret may have obtained it through the trading house that his father-in-law’s relatives ran in the French capital. It is precisely the financial ease that Robert Fourdinier enjoyed, and that his children seem to have enjoyed, that dismisses the idea (held in the bibliography) of the poverty of the Parets. Hence, there is no compelling reason to think that such sumptuous attire was merely a figment of the painter’s imagination.

The lady’s interest in teaching the bird is counterbalanced by her interest in a dog shown by one of her daughters in the corresponding portrait. The portrait is completed by a table on the left of the composition on which we see a glass vase – a possible allusion to the young woman’s delicacy and virtue – containing a carnation, a symbol of love like the Provence roses. Beside them on the table are a sheet of paper and two books, one of which appears to be Ovid’s The Art of Love, which further refers to the character of this delightful painting and to the painter’s feelings towards his wife as well as represents Micaela’s status as a cultivated lady, an attribute of the Enlightenment.

It is this same culture that the artist seeks to show with the inscription in Greek characters in a cartouche at the bottom of the portrait. This is set in what appears to be a frame that creates the illusion of a painting within another painting, an artifice that he also employed in the portraits of his daughters and that lend his works uniqueness and refinement, in this case enhancing the work through the addition of exquisite ivy and roses.

Albarrán, Virginia, 'Luis Paret y Alcázar. Maria de las Nieves Micaela Fourdinier' En:. Paret, Madrid, Museo Nacional del Prado, 2022, p.134-136 nº 27


Technical data

Inventory number
Paret y Alcázar, Luis
María de las Nieves Micaela Fourdinier, the painter's wife
Height: 37 cm; Width: 27.7 cm
Acquisition of Antonio Chicharro Papiri, 1975

Bibliography +

Salas, Xavier de, Adquisiciones del Museo del Prado I Pintores españoles, Goya: Revista de arte, 132, 1976, pp. 346-361 [360].

Salas, Xavier de, Inéditos de Luis Paret y otras notas sobre el mismo, Archivo español de arte, L, 1977, pp. 253-278 [254-256].

Pardo Canalís, Enrique, Luis Paret, pintor de Madrid, Instituto de Estudios Madrileños (CSIC), Madrid, 1978, pp. 17.

Salas, Xavier de, Museo del Prado: adquisiciones de 1969 a 1977, Patronato Nacional de Museos, Madrid, 1978, pp. 29.

L' art européen á la cour d'Espagne au XVIIIe siecle, Reunion des musees nationaux, Paris, 1979, pp. 93.

El arte europeo en la corte de España durante el siglo XVIII, Ministerio de Cultura, Dirección General del Patrimonio, Madrid, 1980, pp. 96 nº 44.

Love Triumphant, Apollo, 111/2, 1980, pp. 277.

Prinz Von Hohenzollern, J.G., Von Greco Bis Goya. Vier Jahrhunderte Spanische Malerei, Haus Der Kunst, Munich, 1982, pp. 230.

Museo Nacional del Prado, Catálogo de las pinturas, Museo del Prado, Madrid, 1985, pp. 492-493.

Mena Marqués, Manuela B., Da el Greco a Goya. I Secoli D'Oro Della Pittura Spagnola, Electa, Milan, 1986, pp. nº 72.

Painting in Spain during the later eighteenth century, The National Gallery, Londres, 1989, pp. 108, nº 33.

Luis Paret y Alcazar, 1746-1799, Servicio Central de Publicaciones del Gobierno Vasco, Vitoria-Gasteiz, 1991, pp. 203, nº 10.

Morales y Marín, José Luis, Pintura en España: 1750-1808, Cátedra, Madrid, 1994, pp. 207 / lám. 117.

La Pintura Española, II, Electa, Milan, 1995, pp. 40 / lám. 501.

Museo Nacional del Prado, Museo del Prado. Inventario general de pinturas (III). Nuevas Adquisiciones. Museo Iconográfico. Tapices., Museo del Prado, Espasa Calpe, Madrid, 1996, pp. nº1931.

Museo Nacional del Prado, Los cinco sentidos y el arte, Museo del Prado, Madrid, 1997, pp. 324.

Morales y Marín, José Luis, Luis Paret, vida y obra, Aneto Publicaciones, Zaragoza, 1997, pp. 130, nº41.

Blanco Mozo, Juan Luis, 'Varia paretiana'I La familia Fourdinier II Paret en el Pais Vasco su relacion con algunos mienbros de la Real Sociedad Bascongada de Amigos del Pais' En:, I Congreso Internacional de Pintura Española del Siglo XVIII. Marbella, 15-18 de abril, 1998, pp. 299,301,306.

Museo Nacional del Prado, Goya y la pintura española del siglo XVIII: guía, Museo del PradoAldeasa, Madrid, 2000, pp. 138.

Museo Nacional del Prado, El retrato español: del Greco a Picasso, Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid, 2004, pp. 358-359 nº 57.

El Prado en el Hermitage, Museo Estatal del Hermitage: Museo del Prado, 2011, pp. 184-185 nº 60.

Maurer, G., Goya: lo bello y lo recóndito. En: La belleza encerrada: de Fra Angelico a Fortuny, Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid, 2013, pp. 344.

Mena Marqués, M.; Albarrán, V., La belleza encerrada: de Fra Angelico a Fortuny, folleto, Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid, 2013, pp. 46 n.200.

Mena Marqués, M.; Albarrán, V., Azúa, F. de, La belleza cautiva. Pequeños tesoros del Museo del Prado, Museo del Prado - Obra Social ''La Caixa'', Barcelona, 2014, pp. 167.

Prado captive beauty: treasures from the Prado Museum, Mitsubishi Ichigokan Museum, 2015, pp. n.76.

Portús Pérez, Javier, Metapintura: un viaje a la idea del arte en España, Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid, 2016, pp. 249, f,4.28 nº 113.

Martínez Pérez, Alejandro, Dibujos de Luis Paret y Alcázar (1746-1799). Catálogo razonado., Centro de Estudios Europa Hispánica,, Madrid, 2018, pp. 150 [o.r. n.56].

Mena, M. Barba, E, Luis Paret y Alcázar, 1746-1799: El Triunfo del Amor sobre la Guerra. Donación Alicia Koplowitz, Bilboko Arte Ederren Museoa Museo de Bellas Artes de Bilbao., 2018, pp. 45.

ALba, L. García Maíquez, J. Gayo, M.D, Jover de Celis, M. Merino Gorospe, J.L, 'Aportaciones al estudio técnico de las obras de Paret' En:, Paret, Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid, 2022, pp. 47-63 [49].

Albarrán, Virginia, 'Luis Paret y Alcázar. Maria de las Nieves Micaela Fourdinier' En:, Paret, Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid, 2022, pp. 134-136 nº 27.

Other inventories +

Catálogo Museo del Prado, 1985. Núm. 3250.

Inv. Nuevas Adquisiciones (iniciado en 1856). Núm. 1931.
Autor Luis de Paret / 1931. asunto retrato / Lienzo (0,37 x 0,28) / Nº del catálogo 3250 / Adquirido por el Ministerio en 1974 en 1.250.000 Pts

Inscriptions +

[En caracteres griegos, cuya traducción sería: Luis Paret a su esposa queridísima queriendo pintar en color lo hizo en el año 1783]
Inscribed in brown color. Front, lower central area

Exhibitions +

COPIA DE - Paret
24.05.2022 - 21.08.2022

24.05.2022 - 21.08.2022

Luis Paret en Bilbao
08.06.2021 - 05.09.2021

Goya y la corte ilustrada
14.02.2018 - 28.05.2018

Goya y la corte ilustrada
27.09.2017 - 21.01.2018

Meta-painting. A Journey to the Idea of Art
15.11.2016 - 19.02.2017

Captive Beauty. Treasures from The Prado Museum
10.10.2015 - 31.01.2016

Captive Beauty. Small Treasures at the Prado Museum
16.07.2014 - 05.01.2015

Captive Beauty. Fra Angelico to Fortuny
21.05.2013 - 10.11.2013

El Prado en el Hermitage
San Petersburgo
25.02.2011 - 29.05.2011

The Spanish Portrait: From El Greco to Picasso
20.10.2004 - 06.02.2005

Luis Paret y Alcázar
12.12.1991 - 31.01.1992

Pintura Española del Siglo XVIII
14.03.1989 - 31.05.1989

Location +

Room 093 (On Display)


Displayed objects +

Vial: Redoma utilizada como florero

Music Box: Caja de música en madera con manivela en el lado derecho que está tocando la retratada. Este instrumento mecánico pertenece al grupo de los idiófonos punteados con láminas cortadas (Proyecto Iconografía Musical, U.C.M.).



Update date: 23-12-2022 | Registry created on 28-04-2015

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