Raimundo de Madrazo y Garreta, Portrait of a Lady, 1890-91

Woman in pink dress stirring tea and reading

Raimundo de Madrazo y Garreta


Portrait of a Lady


Oil on cradled panel

30 x 25 in. (76.2 x 63.5 cm)

Meadows Museum, SMU, Dallas. Museum purchase thanks to a gift from Mrs. Mildred M. Oppenheimer, in memory of Dean Carole Brandt, MM.2014.02

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Hear docent Carol Stacy discuss this object (1:53 minutes).

Audio Transcript

Raimundo Madrazo was the son, grandson, nephew, brother, and brother-in-law of well-known painters. The Madrazo family was an artistic powerhouse and Raimundo was the most famous of them all. His grandfather, who had been director of the Prado Museum, was his first teacher. His father and his brothers were painters and his sister married the painter Mariano Fortuny whose two paintings of beach scenes are here at the Meadows.


Madrazo’s favorite model was Aline Masson. She was the daughter of the doorman at a home in Paris where the artist often met. She had beautiful luminous skin, large eyes, and he painted her in various settings over a period of fifteen years. She’s possibly the model in our Meadows painting, Portrait of a Lady.

This is not the usual portrait. In most portraits, the sitter looks at the viewer and reveals herself to us. But not here. This lady is not looking at us, we’re looking at her. We’re intruding on a quiet moment. We are seeing her in her privacy, reading, perhaps at home. Notice the fabric. Madrazo paints it so that we know exactly how it would feel if we could touch it. Look how the light plays on the fabric, which has bits of white and even little pieces of blue in shadows near the neck. She is stirring tea in an orange red cup that picks up the color of her lipstick while she looks at a publication L’Argent, which was written by Émile Zola in 1890–91.


What does Madrazo want us to see? He wants us to know something about her. She likes quiet time with her tea, and she reads the most current novel. Our model conveys a quiet thoughtful contrast to the frivolous Paris of 1890.