The itinerary <em>TITULORECORRIDO</em> has been successfully created. Now you can add in works from the Collection browser
<em>TITULOOBRA</em> added to <em>TITULORECORRIDO</em> itinerary

Empress Isabella of Portugal
Titian (Tiziano Vecellio)
Close Continuar a ficha de la obra

Titian (Tiziano Vecellio)

Pieve di Cadore, Belluno, Veneto (Italy), 1490 - Venice (Italy), 1576

Titian (Tiziano Vecellio) See author's file

Empress Isabella of Portugal

1548. Oil on canvas.
Room 056

The portraits that Titian painted of Isabella (1503-1539), daughter of King Manuel of Portugal and wife of Charles V from 1526, constitute one of the most moving episodes within Renaissance art. When the empress died, Charles found that he did not have her portrait, so he tried to recover the one that his deceased wife had sent years earlier to Margaret of Austria. In November 1539 he received this portrait from his sister Mary, but was not happy with it as he considered that it did not resemble his wife. It was probably at this point that he had the idea of commissioning a portrait from Titian if he could find a suitable model. In 1543 Charles sent to the artist in Busseto a small portrait of Isabella probably by William Scrots (Poznan, National Museum), molto simile at vero, benché di trivial` pennello, according to Aretino. In 1545 Titian finished a portrait of Isabella dressed in black with flowers in her lap and with the imperial crown behind her; it was destroyed in the fire in the Palace of El Pardo in 1604 and is known through copies and prints. Charles had it brought to Augsburg in 1547 so that the artist could retouch the nose. This lost portrait acted as a model for the present version, also painted in Augsburg and which we know, from a letter from the artist to Granvelle, was completed on 1 September 1548. In the letters, Titian also refers to a double portrait of Charles and Isabella of which there is a copy by Rubens (Madrid, Fundacion Casa de Alba Collection), and which was a curious combination of the seated portrait of Charles (Munich, Alte Pinakothek) and the first one of the empress.

These three portraits constitute further chapters in the fascinating process of the recovery of the empress through her image, culminating in the double portrait which united the emperor with his absent spouse. In these works Charles was not seeking a faithful reproduction of her appearance (given that he already had one molto simile al vero), but rather wished to visualise his own memorised one, which would explain the episode of the nose. Charles asked Titian to retouch this feature, not because it was badly painted, but rather because Titian had painted it as it really was. The portraits of Isabella made during her lifetime show her with an aquiline nose, a feature also remarked on by contemporary commentators, and not with the improbably straight and classically perfect nose which Titian painted. With this correction, Titian repeated with Isabella´s nose the cosmetic operation he had carried out Charles´ protruding jaw in his portraits. The moving, personal nature of the portrait explains why it was one of the few paintings that Charles always had with him, and it is documented in Brussels in 1556 and Yuste in 1558.

The portrait follows a model by Raphael/ Giulio Romano (Isabel de Requesens; Paris, Louvre) which Titian had looked to in 1536 for his portrait of Eleonora Gonzaga, Duchess of Urbino. The sitter is seated with an open window next to her through which is a landscape. A sonnet by Pietro Aretino celebrating the portrait of Eleonora Gonzaga and the way in which the painter emphasises her virtues (her modesty in being seated and the purity implied by covering her breast and hair with a veil, elements also used for the empress), highlight the conventional nature of the formulae used in such images. Isabella´s portrait, however, is more hieratic, not because she did not actually pose for it, but rather because it deliberately conveys a sense of distant majesty evident in other imperial portraits. It is not so much the imperial eagle embroidered on the curtain -the only concession to imperial iconography- but rather Isabella´s distant gaze, focused neither on the Book of Hours that she holds or on a possible viewer, which gives her image gravity and dignity. The work is in good condition. The X-radiograph has revealed no alterations but has shown that Titian reused a canvas with a female figure painted on it.

Philip II lent this portrait to his sister the empress Mary for the Descalzas Reales Convent, where it is mentioned by Carducho in 1633. In 1636 it was hanging in the Alcazar in Madrid, where it remained until the fire of 1734. It then passed to the Palacio Real Nuevo, entering the Museo del Prado in 1821.

Falomir Faus, Miguel, Tiziano, Madrid, Museo Nacional del Prado, 2003, p.208


Technical data

Related artworks

Museo del Prado, vista de una sala con obras de Tiziano
Gelatin / Collodion on photographic paper, 1949
Kessel, Dimitri
La emperatriz Isabel de Portugal
Phototype on card, After 1905
Hauser y Menet
Inventory number
Titian (Tiziano Vecellio)
Empress Isabella of Portugal
Height: 117 cm; Width: 98 cm
Royal Collection (Palace of El Buen Retiro, Madrid, 1772, no. 616?; Palace of El Buen Retiro, 1794, no. 440?; New Royal Palace, Madrid, "secretaría de Estado", 1814-1818).

Bibliography +

Inventario de Pinturas. Alcázar de Madrid, II, Madrid, 1666.

Inventario Palacio Real de Madrid, III, Madrid, 1686, pp. 36.

Inventario de las Pinturas del Museo Hecho a la Muerte del Rey, Madrid, 1834, pp. 43.

Hume, Martin A.S., Calendar of Letters, Despatches and State Papers Relating To, VIII, His Majesty's Stationery Office, Londres, 1904.

Gronau, Georg, Titian, Duckworth and Co.Charles Scribners, Londres-Nueva York, 1911.

Roblot-Delondre, Louise, Portraits D'Infantes. XVI Siecle. Etude Iconographique, G.Van Oest & Cie, Paris-Bruselas, 1913, pp. 50/lám. 26.

Vales Failde, Javier, La Emperatriz Isabel, Revista de ArchivosBibliotecas Y.., Madrid, 1917.

Llanos y Torriglia, Félix de, Portugal en el Museo del Prado (Separata), Asociacion Española para el Progreso, Madrid, 1925.

Beroqui, P., Tiziano en el Museo del Prado, BOLETIN DE LA SOCIEDAD ESPAÑOLA DE EXCURSIONES, 33, 1925, pp. 259.

Mayer, A., Anotaciones, BOLETIN DE LA SOCIEDAD ESPAÑOLA DE EXCURSIONES, 42, 1934, pp. 296.

Suida, W, Le Titien, Weber, Paris, 1935, pp. 160.

Noul, M., Sotomayor, F., Muguruza, P., Les chefs-d'oeuvre du Musée du Prado, Musée d'Art et d'Histoire, Ginebra, 1939.

Faure, Élie, Historia del arte, Editorial Poseidon, Buenos Aires, 1943, pp. 198.

Sarfatti, Margarita G.De, Tiziano O de la Fe en la Vida, Editorial Poseidon, Buenos Aires, 1944, pp. 77.

Sánchez Cantón, Francisco Javier (1891-1971)), Asociacion Española para el Progreso de las Ciencias. Discur, Cordoba, 1945, pp. 8-9.

Beroqui, Pedro, Tiziano en el Museo del Prado., Hauser y Menet, Madrid, 1946, pp. 57 y ss..

Beroqui, Pedro, Tiziano en el Museo del Prado., Hauser y Menet, Madrid, 1946, pp. 61-72.

Sánchez Cantón, Francisco Javier; Pita Andrade, José Manuel, Los retratos de los Reyes de España, Omega, Barcelona, 1948, pp. lám. 104.

Gilbert, R., La Methode Radiographique Dans L'Etude des Chefs D'Oeuvre de la Peinture. Separata, [s.n], Venecia, 1953, pp. 9,10.

Boucher, François1703-1770, Histoire du Costume en Occident de L'Antiquite a Nos Jours, Flammarion, Paris, 1965, pp. 223/lám. 443.

Panofsky, Erwin, Problems in Titian Mostly Iconographic, Phaidon, Londres, 1969, pp. 184/ lám. 8.

Pallucchini, Rodolfo, Tiziano, I, G.C. Sansoni, Florencia, 1969, pp. lám. 333.

Cagli, Corrado, La obra pictórica completa de Tiziano, Noguer, Barcelona. Madrid, 1971.

Wethey, Harold E.1902-1984, The paintings of Titian, Phaidon, Londres, 1971, pp. 110-111.

Salas, Xavier de, Museo del Prado. Catálogo de las pinturas, Museo del Prado, Madrid, 1972.

Wilde, Johannes, Venetian Art From Bellini To Titian, Clarendon Press, Oxford, 1974, pp. 238.

Inventarios reales: testamentaria del Rey Carlos II : 1701-1, Museo del PradoPatronato Nacional de Museos, Madrid, 1975, pp. 27.

Gallego, Julián, El Retrato en Tiziano, Goya: Revista de Arte, 135, 1976, pp. 161-173.

Smith, Alistair, Titian's porttraiture, THE CONNOISSEUR: A MAGAZINE FOR COLLECTORS ILLUSTRATED, 192, 1976, pp. 255-263.

Lahnestein, Peter., Auf Den Spuren Von Karl V., List Verlag, Munich, 1979, pp. 192/lám. 20.

Cloulas, Annie, Les portaits de l'emperatrie Isabelle de Portugal, GAZETTE DES BEAUX-ARTS: LA CHRONIQUE DES ARTS, 93, 1979, pp. 56-68.

Museo Nacional del Prado, Museo del Prado: pintura italiana anterior a 1600, Gredos, Madrid, 1979, pp. 162-164.

Fasolo, Ugo, Ticiano, Becocci, Florencia, 1980, pp. 60.

Hope, Charles, Titian, Jupiter Book, London, 1980, pp. lám. 18.

Bettini, S., Tiziano e Venezia, Neri Pozza, Vicenza, 1980, pp. 156.

Pirenne, Jacques, Historia Universal. Las Grandes Corrientes de la Historia. V, Ediciones Oceano, Barcelona, 1983, pp. 12.

Liedtke, Walter A., Flemish Painting in the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Vol. I, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Nueva York, 1984, pp. 289/lám. 10.

Menéndez Pidal, Ramón, Historia de España, Espasa-Calpe, Madrid, 1984, pp. 10/lám. 1.

Sopeña Ibañez, Federico, Las Reinas de España y la Musica, Banco de Bilbao, Madrid, 1984, pp. 22.

Barghahn, Barbara Von, Age of Gold, Age of Iron. Renaissance Spain and Symbols of Monarchy, University Press of America, Lanham. Nueva York, 1985, pp. lám. 67.

Museo Nacional del Prado, Catálogo de las pinturas, Museo del Prado, Madrid, 1985, pp. 698.

Carroggio, Fernando, Historia del Arte, Carroggio S.A., Barcelona, 1985, pp. 154.

Brown, Jonathan, Velázquez: pintor y cortesano, Alianza Editorial, Madrid, 1986, pp. 243/lám. 300.

Leymarie, Jean, Chanel, Skira, Genova, 1987, pp. 16.

Jeddind-Gesterling, M., El Peinado. Una Historia de la Moda del Peinado Desde la Ant, Hans Schwarzkopf Gmbh, Hamburgo, 1988, pp. 139.

Wilde, Johannes, La pintura veneciana: de Bellini a Ticiano, Nerea, Madrid, 1988, pp. 252-253/lám. 199-200.

Anatra, Bruno, Venezia e la Spagna, Electa, Milan, 1988, pp. 50.

Museo Nacional del Prado, Museo del Prado. Inventario general de pinturas (I) La Colección Real, Museo del Prado, Espasa Calpe, Madrid, 1990.

Vosters, Simon A., Rubens y España: estudio artístico-literario sobre la estética del Barroco, Cátedra, Madrid, 1990, pp. 23.

Walther, Angelo, Tizian, E.A.Seemann Verlag, Leipzig, 1990, pp. lám. 54.

Kusche, Maria, DEr christliche Ritter und seine Dame das Repräsentationsbildnis in ganzer Figur, BRUCKMANNS PANTHEON: INTERNATIONALE JAHRESZEITSCHRIFT FUR KUNST, 49, 1991, pp. 27/lám. 88.

Checa Cremades, Fernando, Felipe II: mecenas de las artes, Nerea, Madrid, 1992, pp. 55.

Perlingieri, I.S., Sofonisba Anguissola. The First Great Woman Artist of the Renaissance, Rizzoli, Nueva York, 1992, pp. 46/lám. 19.

Bartolomé Francia, Belén, Los Leoni (1509-1608): escultores del Renacimiento italiano, Museo del Prado, Madrid, 1994, pp. 79.

Jordan, Annemarie, Retrato de Corte Em Portugal. O Legado de Antonio Moro 1552-1572, Quetzal Editores, Lisboa, 1994, pp. 66.

Sofonisba Anguissola e le sue sorelle [textos: Mina Gregori., Leonardo Arte, Cremona, 1994, pp. 135.

Checa Cremades, Fernando, Tiziano y la monarquía hispánica: usos y funciones de la pintura veneciana en España (siglos XVI y XVII), Nerea, Madrid, 1994, pp. 47; 271, n. 48.

Bettagno, Alessandro, El Museo del Prado, Fonds Mercator Fundación Amigos del Museo del Prado, Madrid, 1996, pp. 200.

Blázquez, Eduardo, El ideal de belleza femenino en el Renacimiento, BOLETIN DEL MUSEO E INSTITUTO 'CAMON AZNAR', 1997, pp. 26, 37/lám. 2.

Las sociedades ibéricas y el mar a finales del siglo XVI, Sociedad Estatal Lisboa 98, Madrid, 1998, pp. 214.

Checa Cremades, Fernando, Un príncipe del Renacimiento: Felipe II, un monarca y su época, Sociedad Estatal para la Commemoración de los centenarios de Felipe II y Carlos V, Madrid, 1998, pp. 286.

Museo Nacional del Prado, Pintura italiana del Renacimiento: guía, Museo del Prado, Aldeasa, Madrid, 1999, pp. 150.

Valcanover, Francesco, Tiziano. I suoi pennelli sempre partorirono espressioni di Vita, Edizioni Il Fiorino, Firenze, 1999, pp. 164.

Carolus, Sociedad Estatal para la Commemoración de los Centenarios de Felipe II y Carlos V, Madrid, 2000, pp. 506.

El linaje del emperador, Sociedad Estatal para la Conmemoración de los Centenarios de Felipe II y Carlos V, Madrid, 2000.

Kaiser Karl V. (1500-1558). Macht Und Ohnmacht Europas., Skira, Mailand, 2000.

Carrillero Martínez, Ramón, La emperatriz Isabel de Portugal, Señora de Albacete y de Alcaraz. 1526-1539., Instituto de Estudios Albacetenses, Albacete, 2000.

Kusche, Maria, Retratos y retratadores: Alonso Sanchez Coello y sus competidores, Fundación de Apoyo a la Historia del Arte Hispánico, Madrid, 2003, pp. 37, 127, 203.

Falomir Faus, Miguel, Tiziano, Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid, 2003, pp. 208.

Kusche, Maria, El retrato de representación de cuepo entero. El caballero cristiano y su dama, Cuadernos de Arte e Iconografía, 13, 2004, pp. 70.

Kusche, Maria, Juan Pantoja de la Cruz y sus seguidores B. González, R. de Villandrando y A. López Polanco., Fundación Arte Hispánico, Madrid, 2007, pp. 159 / lám. 111.

Santos Márquez, A.J, Exequias y túmulo de la Emperatriz Dª Isabel de Portugal en la Catedral de Sevilla, Reales Sitios, XLVI, 2009, pp. 28-41.

Villacorta Baños-García, Antonio, La emperatriz Isabel : su vida al lado de Carlos V, su mundo..., Actas, 2009.

Le botteghe di Tiziano, Alinari 24 ORE, 2009, pp. 137,139,148,265.

Bodart, Diane H., Pouvoirs du portrait : sous les Habsbourg d' Espagne, CTHS Editions, 2011.

Bodart, Diane H, 'Quizá mejor de Tiziano: Antonio Moro retratista' En: Maestros en la sombra, Fundación Amigos Museo del Prado, Madrid, 2013, pp. 131-162 [150].

Checa Cremades, Fernando, Tiziano y las cortes del Renacimiento, Marcial Pons Historia, 2013, pp. 277, f.38.

Puerta de la, Ruth, 'Las leyes suntuarias y la restricción del lujo en el vestir' En: Vestir a la española en las cortes europeas (siglos XVI y XVII), I, CEEH, Madrid, 2014, pp. 209-231 [211 f.1].

Martínez Leiva, Gloria; Rodríguez Rebollo, Ángel, El inventario del Alcázar de Madrid de 1666. Felipe IV y su colección artística, Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas, Madrid, 2015, pp. 517 nº 757.

Other inventories +

Inv. Testamentaría Carlos III, Buen Retiro, 1794. Núm. ¿440?.
Otra [pintura], Copia de Ticiano: retrato de una Princesa extrangera de vara y tercia de alto y vara y quarta de ancho marco dorado ... 200

Inv. Carlos III, Buen Retiro, 1772. Núm. ¿616?.
{15356} 616 / Otro [retrato] de la reyna primera mujer de Carlos V escuela de Ticiano vara y media de alto vara y quarta de ancho

Catálogo Museo del Prado, 1910. Núm. 415.

Catálogo Museo del Prado, 1942-1996. Núm. 415.

Catálogo Museo del Prado, 1872-1907. Núm. 485.

Inv. Real Museo, 1857. Núm. 878.
Tiziano. / 878. Doña Isabel de Portugal, esposa de Carlos 5º. / Esta sentada, con un libro en la mano, lleva un trage con mangas abiertas de brocado y mangas interiores blancas y afolladas; perlas en el cuello y en la cabeza: su cabello es rubio, trenzado y hueco a los lados. (C.L.) / Alto 4 pies, 2 pulg; ancho 3 pies, 6 pulg.

Catálogo Museo del Prado, 1854-1858. Núm. 878.

Inv. Fernando VII, Palacio Nuevo, 1814-1818. Núm. s. n..
Secretaría de Estado [...] {22246-22247} Vara y media de alto vara y cuarta de ancho, una señora sentada con un libro en la mano y collar de perlas = Ticiano. copia

Exhibitions +

Labirinti del cuore. I 'due amici' di Giorgione e le stagioniu del sentimento bel `500 italiano
22.06.2017 - 17.09.2017

10.06.2003 - 07.09.2003

Carolus - Toledo
05.10.2000 - 12.01.2001

Carolus - Bonn y Viena
15.06.2000 - 17.09.2000

Las sociedades ibéricas y el mar a finales del siglo XVI
22.05.1998 - 26.07.1998

Location +

Room 056 (On Display)


Displayed objects +


Jewels: Unido a un collar de perlas, destaca el joyel donde pende una perla en forma de lágrima.

Update date: 03-11-2022 | Registry created on 28-04-2015

Other works by Titian (Tiziano Vecellio)

Print on demand

Print artworks available in our catalogue in high quality and your preferred size and finish.

Image archive

Request artworks available in our catalogue in digital format.