A 20-year-old duchess, renowned for her beauty and uninhibited behavior for the time, was Spanish painter Francisco Goya's great muse and he continued to paint her even after her death.
It is speculated that the mysterious Duchess of Alba and Goya were lovers. The young Spanish woman initiated their meeting, led by her curiosity, since in 1795 the artist was already very popular as a court painter for the Spanish crown.
When he saw the Duchess of Alba for the first time, Goya exclaimed, "O, now I finally know what it is to live! " Their passionate love relationship lasted 7 years, with the duchess being present in the majority of his paintings in that period.
Goya continued to paint her even after she ended their relationship in order to marry a famous aristocrat. Because he was deeply hurt, the artist portrayed the beauty as a witch and venal woman.
His works gained him popularity not only in Spain but in all of Europe, and the Duchess of Alba, flattered by the fact that she was the muse of his success, renewed her relationship with the artist once again.
The duchess often joked about death and even shared that she would rather die young than part with her beauty. One morning she was found dead in her home, while the cause remains a mystery even today.
Even after her unexpected passing, Goya continue to paint her. Even thought the painter had countless lovers before he met the duchess, during their relationship and after she became his inspiration for life.
In 1792 he fell sick and no one could diagnose his condition. As a result of the illness, Goya was paralyzed and began having severe hallucinations.
With treatment he got better but his hearing was left highly affected and he continued to have hallucinations until the end of his life.
Despite this, his abilities as a painter and illustrator remained unsurpassed. Women continued to worship him and insist that he paint them, and to compliment them he portrayed them younger and more beautiful than they were in reality.
Until his death Goya painted primarily dark works, provoked by his terrifying visions.