1801. Oil on canvas. Royal Academy of San Fernando, Madrid, Spain. Read Note.
Manuel Godoy, Duke of Alcudia, (1767-1851) Spanish stateman, born in Badajoz. A member of Charles IV’s bodyguard, he became the royal favorite, lover of the queen, and was made prime minister in 1792, ennobled with the title of "Prince of the Peace". He led Spain into a series of disasters, which culminated in the French invasion of 1808, when the king was obliged to imprison him to protect him from the people’s fury. He subsequently intrigued with Napoleon and spent the rest of his life in exile in Rome and Paris, where he died.
Godoy was an important patron of Goya. His palace was decorated with paintings by Goya, he sat for the artist on more than one occasion, and he owned versions of Goya’s portraits of the King and Queen. The famous Naked Maja (La Maja Desnuda) and The Clothed Maja (La Maja Vestifa) are first recorded in Godoy’s collection, and the importance of his position suggests the possibility that they were painted for him. Both the origin of the Majas and the identity of the model are still a mystery. Goya was summoned by the Inquisition in 1815 to explain when and for whom they had been executed, but his explanation has never been brought to light.
Godoy was married to a niece of Charles III's, María Teresa de Borbón y Vallabriga (1780-1828), later Countess of Chinchón, daughter of the Infante Luis de Borbón. This marriage was very humiliating for the countess, it was arranged by the Queen Maria Luisa for her own duplicitous purposes. There are four known portraits of María Teresa by Goya; he maintained a lifelong sympathetic relationship with her.
See: Francisco de Goya. Manuel Godoy, Duke of Alcudia, "Prince of the Peace".