Maria Isabella of Spain
The identity of this young lady has been re-discovered following comparison with two miniature portraits by an unknown Naples Court artist that are held in the Musée Condé in Chantilly.* The sitter is believed to be Infanta Maria Isabella of Spain.
Born in Madrid in 1789, Maria Isabella was the youngest daughter of King Carlos IV of Spain and Maria Luisa of Parma. Being the darling of the family, a good marriage was sought for her so in 1802, aged just thirteen, she was married to her 25-year-old cousin, Francesco Duke of Calabria, his first wife having died the previous year. Maria Isabella’s new home was at the Court of Naples. She was only fifteen when her first daughter was born; she was to have eleven more children.
Maria Isabella’s family life was turbulent and included a long period of exile in Sicily before her husband was able to return to Naples as King Francis I. Now 34 years old, Maria Isabella was said to be “frivolous, childlike and goodhearted”. Widowed at 41, Maria Isabella took various lovers before marrying a dashing much younger lieutenant from an impoverished but aristocratic background. She died in 1848 at the age of 59.
Housed in a gilt-metal frame that is enclosed on the reverse.
*With thanks to Bodo Hofstetter
Item Ref. 9127PB
Size: 60mm diameter
Provenance: UK Private Collection