Meet the Duke of Osuna
Goya’s Portrait of Don Pedro, Duque de Osuna, at the Norton Simon
Leticia Marie Sanchez
Cultural Cocktail Hour® is a registered trademark
Cultural Cocktail Hour had the pleasure of meeting the Duke of Osuna at the Norton Simon last week. The Duke is currently wintering in sun-drenched Pasadena, on a vacation from his Upper East Side pied-à-terre, New York’s Frick Collection. Accompanied by his entourage, Senior Frick Curator Grace Galassi and Norton Simon Chief Curator Carol Tognieri, the Duke met members of the press on Thursday evening.
Allow me now to introduce you, fair readers, to the Duke.
Here are some tidibits to help you get to know this bigwig.(His literal perruque is quite subtle and ever-so-tasteful.)
3 Fun Facts about Goya’s Don Pedro, Duque de Osuna
#1 Check out the Letter
When you are standing in front of the portrait, you will see a letter. This unfolded missive is signed from the artist to the Duke. El Duque De Osuna, Por Goya. (The Duke of Osuna, By Goya).
The symbol of the letter reflects Goya’s intimacy with the Duke.This scroll is like a modern-day email, a friendly little tweet.
If the Duke of Osuna and Goya were on Facebook, they would totally be friends.
#2 No bling
Observe the Duke’s clothing. No flashy medals. No honorific decorations. As one of the most powerful men in Spain, he decided to leave his status symbols at home. Similarly, Goya approached this painting with a less restricted, looser application of paint. The Duke’s informal appearance underscores the relaxed rapport between these two chums.
#3 Rebel With A Cause
The Duke and his wife, Maria Josefa Pimental, 15th Countess of Benavente, were intellectual rebels at heart; they hosted salons with forward thinking playwrights, scientists and artists.
(They often held salons in their French-inspired country estate, entitled, “El Capricho de la Alameda de Osuna.” Which translates as “The Whim of the Poplar Groves of the Osuna.” A Whim! Who wouldn’t want to live in Whim? What does a whim look like? I imagine there are inspiring breezes, balconies, and balustrades. But I digress.)
Thanks to their power and fortune, the lucky Duke and Countess-Duchess could bend the rules in their quest for the avant-garde. In fact, they were allowed to buy works (gasp!) banned by the Inquisition. Now that sounds just like a Cultural Cocktail Hour kind of party!
Lesson learned: Don’t judge a book (or a Duke) by his cover.
Painting Above: Francisco de Goya y Lucientes (Spanish, 1746–1828) Don Pedro, Duque de Osuna, c.1790s Oil on canvas 54 1/4 x 43 x 4 in. (137.8 x 109.2 x 10.2 cm) The Frick Collection; photo: Michael Bodycomb