The woman in this 1836 portrait is a Madrid aristocrat, Señora Delicado de Imaz. This woman is of an age and affluence where she is not interested in being painted as an object of desire, but as a woman of elevated society and enlightenment. She is a woman for whom wealth and power are more important than beauty and frivolity.

* Report by Karla Ingleton Darocas, Hons. B. A.  (

Realistically, this woman prides herself on her longevity. She did not die in childbirth or from one of the many diseases that killed many women of the time. She is alive and rich. Furthermore, she boasts not only of her jewels and lavish clothes, but also of her ultimate symbol of maturity: her hairy upper lip.

This happens in all women in the years after menopause, when oestrogen levels drop during menopause and testosterone is released, which stimulates the hair follicles. Since it was very rare for women to reach such an age or accumulate a fortune worthy of a portrait, this woman goes down in history as one of the most interesting portraits ever painted by the neoclassical specialist Vicente López Portaña (1772-1850)

After his appointment as First Painter of the Royal Chamber by Ferdinand VII in 1815, this artist became the preferred portrait painter for members of high society at the king's court.

Aristocrats who craved recognition and wanted to flaunt their status found this artist's exceptional technical skills ideally suited to their desires. At the height of his career in Madrid, the Valencian neoclassical painter Vicente López was praised for his special talent for depicting the most tangible fabrics and jewels in his portraits. These qualities, as well as his confident brushwork, brought the most demanding clients to his studio 

On the other hand, his keen powers of observation and astonishingly accurate description of facial features were sometimes questioned, which López always rejected, for as a master of portraiture he did not wallow in feeble admiration. On the contrary, his paintings were the realisation of his observations through an extremely objective, rational and scientific process.

Thanks to his keen eye and accurate powers of observation, we have a very good idea of what these historical figures of Spanish society were really like 

López depicts Delicado de Imaz seated with a slight turn. The background is a window and a red velvet curtain. The chair is upholstered in green fabric and wears a striking cashmere shawl in bright colours on one arm.

She wears a dark blue velvet dress with a lace mantilla covering her shoulders. On her right hand, in which she also holds a fan, a symbol of her status, she wears a magnificent bracelet and a ring, while her gloved left hand rests on her lap.

She wears her hair in the fashionable style of the tres potencias (literally, three powers), with thick curls at the sides and a large topknot held in place with a magnificent hairpin in the shape of a crescent moon and a star, set with diamonds that match the necklace on her forehead, her earrings and her brooch. On the belt of her dress hangs the chain of a gold watch.

His astonishingly precise depictions were executed in bright, rich colours, which he used with a particularly strong sense of decoration and in the best tradition of Valencian painting 

Lopez's extremely accurate and absolutely honest brushwork was able to accurately reproduce the smallest imperfections on the skin of his sitter and the precise features of jewellery or embroidery on clothing. In this way, a unique symbiosis was created between the realistic tradition of the School of Valencia and the artist's rigorous academic training.

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Resource Books written by
Karla Ingleton Darocas 
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