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Sofía Vela y Querol
Madrazo y Kuntz, Federico de
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Madrazo y Kuntz, Federico de

Rome (Italy), 1815 - Madrid (Spain), 1894

Madrazo y Kuntz, Federico de See author's file

Sofía Vela y Querol

1850. Oil on canvas Not on display

Although Federico de Madrazo began working in the genre of historical painting, his gifts as an artist promptly led him to portraiture, which he cultivated in all its forms throughout his lengthy career and in which he conspicuously excelled. This portrait of Sofía Vela is one of the best from the artist´s romantic period and is a superb example of the intimate portrait. It was exhibited at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts of San Fernando in Madrid in 1850, and was subsequently one of the portraits he entered in the 1855 Exposition Universelle in Paris, receiving first prize and international recognition. In this portrait, Madrazo managed to reflect with refinement the spirit of his sitter, through his subtle study of the light which falls diagonally across the canvas from above, onto the left side of the woman´s face and on the corner of the sheet of music and on the tips of two of her fingers and the palm of her fine pianist´s hand, an element that is thematically important to the painting. He thus reveals an atmosphere of quiet intimacy, such as would be characteristic of one of the musical soirees the painter regularly attended with his family and friends. This pastime, shared with other friends, including artist and writers, reflects the close proximity of all the arts during the romantic period. Sofía Vela´s oval face, accentuated by her braided hair gathered at the back of her neck, and her restrained expression, show Madrazo´s ideal of harmony and equilibrium; influences from the Renaissance, including Leonardo da Vinci, and the neoclassical masters of eighteenth-century Italy, shine through in this portrait. On the other hand, the loose, broad brushwork in her simple attire is characteristic of the artist´s skill and his taste for what may properly be regarded as painterliness. Painted soon after Sofía´s twentieth birthday and after she had been married for two years to the poet Antonio Arnao, Madrazo gave her the portrait as a gift, which is detailed in the artist´s own inventory. The sitter, who is portrayed with sympathy and affection, was a pianist, composer and, at the time the painting was executed, a contralto of the Royal Chamber. Several compositions by her survive, prominent among them religious works performed in churches in Madrid. She also published songs, some with lyrics by her husband, others based on poems by Pedro Antonio de Alarcón. She died in Madrid in 1909. The inscription in Italian in the upper edge of the painting expresses the sitter´s qualities as a person and an artist, Né men ch´in viso bella in suono é dolce (A face no less lovely than her voice is sweet). It is taken from the sixtyfirst stanza of Canto XIV of Torquato Tasso´s Gerusalemme Liberata (Jerusalem Delivered), a Renaissance epic that inspired numerous musical compositions and works of art. Its inclusion here is a clear sign of the sitter´s education and her fondness for literature and music (Barón, J.: Portrait of Spain. Masterpieces from the Prado, Queensland Art Gallery-Art Exhibitions Australia, 2012, p. 204).

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Technical data

Inventory number
P004449
Author
Madrazo y Kuntz, Federico de
Title
Sofía Vela y Querol
Date
1850
Technique
Oil
Support
Canvas
Dimension
Height: 62 cm.; Width: 50 cm.
Provenance
Legacy of Sofía Vela y Querol, 1910; Museo de Arte Moderno

Bibliography +

Camón Aznar, José, Pintura Española de los Siglos XVI al XIX, Direccion General de Bellas Artes, Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, 1973, pp. 58 nº21.

González López, Carlos, Federico de Madrazo y Kuntz, Subirana, Barcelona, 1981, pp. 165, n. 245.

Museo Nacional del Prado, Catálogo de las pinturas del siglo XIX, Ministerio de Cultura, Madrid, 1985, pp. 164.

Los Madrazo: una familia de artistas, Ayuntamiento, Concejalía de Cultura, Madrid, 1985, pp. n.26.

Díez, José Luis, Federico de Madrazo y Kuntz (1815-1894), Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid, 1994, pp. 210, n. 27; 462-463 nº31.

Liberalismo y romanticismo en tiempos de Isabel II, Sociedad Estatal de Conmemoraciones, Madrid, 2004.

Barón, Javier, El retrato español en el Prado. Del Greco a Sorolla, Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid, 2010, pp. 126, nº 36.

Portrait of Spain. Masterpieces from The Prado, Queensland Art Gallery, 2012, pp. 204-205, nº62.

Museo Nacional del Prado, Pintura del Siglo XIX en el Museo del Prado: catálogo general. Dirección científica, José Luis Díez; catálogo, Ana Gutiérrez Márquez; coordinación, Pedro J. Martínez Plaza, Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid, 2015, pp. 364.

Other inventories +

Registros-Inventarios Museo Nacional de Arte Moderno, 1900-1936. Núm. 146-M.

Registros-Inventarios Museo Nacional de Arte Moderno, 1900-1936. Núm. 170-M.

Inv. Museo Arte Moderno, 1954. Núm. 342.

Actas traslado de obras MEAC - Prado, 1971-1973. Núm. 368.

Exhibitions +

Portrait of Spain. Masterpieces from the Prado
Houston
16.12.2012 - 31.03.2013

Portrait of Spain. Masterpieces from the Prado
Houston TX
15.12.2012 - 31.03.2013

Portrait of Spain. Masterpieces from the Prado
Brisbane
22.07.2012 - 04.11.2012

Portrait of Spain. Masterpieces from the Prado
Brisbane, Australia
21.07.2012 - 04.11.2012

El retrato español en el Prado. Del Greco a Sorolla
01.10.2010 - 08.01.2011

El retrato español en el Prado. De Goya a Sorolla
La Coruña
11.06.2008 - 07.09.2008

El retrato español en el Prado. De Goya a Sorolla
Toledo
12.03.2008 - 25.05.2008

El retrato español en el Prado. De Goya a Sorolla
Salamanca
18.12.2007 - 24.02.2008

El retrato español en el Prado. De Goya a Sorolla
Murcia
03.10.2007 - 02.12.2007

El retrato español en el Prado. De Goya a Sorolla
Valencia
12.06.2007 - 02.09.2007

El retrato español en el Prado. De Goya a Sorolla
Bilbao
05.03.2007 - 20.05.2007

Displayed objects +

Music, Illegible: Partitura de la que sólo se ve el reverso; no es identificable. Posiblemente se trate de una pieza vocal (Proyecto Iconografía Musical, U.C.M.).

Update date: 25-07-2019 | Registry created on 28-04-2015

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