Fracisco de Goya
Retrato de Joaquina Candado Ricarte
Oil on canvas
169 x 118 cm
Museu de Belles Arts de Valencia
Museum Dogs is ending the workweek with one of the cutest dogs in Western art: another Little White Hairy Dog by Francisco de Goya. Take a look at more of Goya’s dogs—little, white, hairy, and otherwise—at museumdogs.tumblr.com/tagged/goya.
Scholars differ on who, exactly, the subject of this portrait is, but the most plausible candidate is Joaquina Candado Ricarte. She was born in Zaragoza, Aragon (the same region as Goya), in 1769 to Joaquin Candado, who was a military man, and Josefa Ricarte. By the time she was 20, Joaquina had married, was widowed, and remarried within the space of two years. Her second husband was the paymaster of the Real Fábrica de Salitre de la Corte de Madrid, the state-run gunpowder factories in Madrid. Marrying him raised Joaquina’s socioeconomic status, making her rich enough to commission a full-length portrait and be depicted wearing fashionable clothes and accompanied by a lapdog, a signifier of wealth and position. Because of its similarity with another of Goya’s portraits (his 1803 likeness of Countess of Fernán Nuñez), this one has been dated to sometime between 1802 and 1804. Joaquina would have been a little over 30 years old when she posed for him.
In the portrait, Joaquina is dressed in a somber but very fine black gown with a white chemise at the decolletage, black lace mantilla, tan kid gloves, and silver slippers. She sits outdoors on a large fallen log, against a rather dismal, if indistinct, background. The dark clothing and setting serve to make her fair and rosy face stand out all the more. Her expression is serene; this is a respectable, well-to-do woman who is content in her position without being snobby about it.
Accompanying Joaquina—and visually echoing her white chemise—is an absolutely ADORABLE Little White Hairy Dog. She is just a wee little thing, mostly hair with some black dots for a face. Goya’s sketchy, quick brushwork really captures the softness of the dog’s tousled coat; it makes the viewer want to reach in and pat her! Our canine hero, who is probably a Maltese or Bolognese or other bichon-type dog, looks rather uncertain about her situation. She certainly is intently focused on the viewer (or something just to the viewer’s left); perhaps she is guarding her person, ready to bark an alarm at the first sign of trouble. Or, just as likely, she thinks that the viewer has food and is trying to cadge a treat by intense concentration and sheer force of will. WHAT IS GOING ON WHO ARE YOU DO NOT MESS WITH MY PERSON OR I WILL HAVE TO GET TOUGH DO YOU HAVE FOOD I THINK YOU MIGHT HAVE FOOD PLEASE MAY I HAVE SOME OF YOUR FOOD?
As has often been mentioned in this blog, Little Hairy Dogs are kryptonite over here at Museum Dogs. We simply cannot resist them. However, for the sake of balance and for all you readers who prefer big dogs, stay tuned—there is a very big dog indeed to come in the next post!
Isabel Marqués, “Retrato de Joaquina Candado Ricarte, de Francisco de Goya,” UNIdiVERSIeDad, no. 12 (Autumn 2014), pp. 21–22, http://issuu.com/amicsnaugran/docs/naugran12_web; Fundación Goya en Aragón, “Joaquina Candado,” object description, www.fundaciongoyaenaragon.es/goya/obra/catalogo/?ficha=249.