This imposing portrait is one of four that Goya painted of members of Count Altamira's family. (Another is the Museum's portrait of Don Manuel Osorio Manrique de Zuñiga [49.7.41].) The patronage of this powerful family greatly advanced the artist's career; shortly after this work was completed, he was appointed court painter to Charles IV, king of Spain. Goya's brilliant treatment of the countess' gown, with its shimmering embroidered silk, attests to his mastery of technique, while the distant, introspective expressions of the sitters reveal his ability to endow even the most formal of portraits with a penetrating psychological immediacy.
Inscription: Inscribed (bottom): LA EX.ma S.a D.a MARIA YGNACIA ALVAREZ DE TOLEDO MARQVESA DE ASTORGA CONDESA DE ALTAMIRA / Y. LA S. D. MARIA AGVSTINA OSORIO ALVAREZ DE TOLEDO SV HIJA . NACIO . EN 21 DE FEBRERO DE 1787. (Her Excellency the Lady María Ygnacia Álvarez of Toledo, marchioness of Astorga and countess of Altamira, and the Lady María Agustina Osoria Álvarez of Toledo, her daughter, born on February 21, 1787.)
Commissioned by Vicente Joaquín Osorio Moscoso y Guzmán (1756–1816), 11th conde de Altamira and marqués de Astorga; by descent to Vicente Pío Osorio de Moscoso Ponce de León (1801–1864), conde de Altamira; by descent to his daughter, María Rosalía Luisa, duquesa de Baena, until ca.1870; marqués de Corvera, Madrid, 1900; Léopold Goldschmidt, Paris, ca.1903; Count Pastré, Paris; [F. Kleinberger Galleries, Paris, ca. 1910]; acquired by Philip Lehman from Kleinberger in October 1911.