La Maja Desnuda

7:00 AM

Francisco de Goya, La Maja Desnuda,1790-1800
    By MELISA CAPAN

Oh how wonderful is sensual Romanticism? The unknown mistress lies upon a green velvet chair with her arms raised as the light highlights her exposed body. Her cheeks appear noticeably rosy and her renowned gaze remains unashamed. Many viewed this particular work as too erotic. What initially sparked the negative connotations was Goya’s promiscuous use of pubic hair. Pubic hair=Prostitutes? Such hairs weren’t very well received…

With every painting comes a story and mystery. La Maja Desnuda was commissioned by Prime Minister Manuel Godoy to add to his nude collection. Alas the Inquisition took the apparently “immoral” painting from Godoy’s home and was then sequestered by King Fernando. Later, Goya was brought before the Inquisition and asked various questions about La Maja Desnuda.

WHO? WHAT? WHY?

“And what shoulder, & what art,
Could twist the sinews of thy heart?”
          -William Blake, “Tyger”

An abrupt romance sparked a ruckus up in España. The answers were never recovered and the mystery lives on. Perhaps La Maja is Pepita Tudó, Godoy’s lover, or maybe Goya’s secret mistress, the Duchess of Alba? The entirety of the painting is open to interpretation, including the date (1790-1800).

As of 1901, La Maja Desnuda is present on a wall of the Prado Mueseum in Spain only inches from its counterpart La Maja Vestida. A painting worth the persecution…

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