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La maja desnuda (known in English as The Naked (or Nude) Maja) is an oil on canvas painting by the Spanishmarker painter Francisco de Goya, portraying a nude woman reclining on a bed of pillows. It was executed some time between 1797 and 1800, and is sometimes said to be the first clear depiction of female pubic hair in a large Western painting. The painting is in the Museo del Pradomarker in Madridmarker.

One of a pair

Goya created another painting of the same woman identically posed, but clothed, entitled La maja vestida (The Clothed Maja); also in the Prado, it is usually hung next to La maja desnuda. The identity of the model and why the paintings were created are still unknown. Both paintings were first recorded as belonging to the collection of Prime Minister Manuel de Godoy, Duke of Alcudiamarker, and it has been conjectured that the woman depicted was his young mistress. It has also been suggested that the woman was María del Pilar Teresa Cayetana de Silva y Álvarez de Toledo, 13th Duchess of Alba, with whom Goya is rumored to have been romantically involved and did complete known portraits of. However, many scholars have rejected this possibility, including Australian art critic Robert Hughes in his 2003 biography, Goya. Many agree that Pepita Tudó is a more likely candidate. Others believe the woman depicted is actually a composite of several different models.

In 1815, the Spanish Inquisition summoned Goya to reveal who commissioned him to create the "obscene" La maja desnuda, and he was consequently stripped of his position as the Spanish court painter. If Goya gave an explanation of the painting's origin to the Inquisition, that account has never surfaced. Two sets of stamps depicting La maja desnuda in commemoration of Goya's work were privately produced in 1930, and later approved by the Spanish Postal Authority. That same year, the United States government barred and returned any mail bearing the stamps.

See also


  1. Others had certainly hinted at it before, however; Lucas Cranach the Elder's painting The Nymph of the Spring from around 1539 seems to show pubic hair, and his Water Nymph Resting clearly depicts it as well.



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