Portrait of Marie Louise of Bourbon
Giuseppe Bonito (1707-1789)
18th century, Oil on canvas
The young woman portrayed here was the daughter of Charles III of Spain and Maria Amalia of Saxony; she was Grand Duchess of Tuscany between 1765 and 1790, as consort of Peter Leopold of Habsburg-Lorraine. She became Empress of the Holy Roman Empire and Queen of Germany, Bohemia and Hungary when her husband was elected Emperor. The royal couple, who are remembered for their shared commitment to reforms in Tuscany, had sixteen children. All this is far in the future for this young girl playing with a dog, a graceful little animal who holds a biscuit in its mouth and looks hopefully at another being offered to it: it is a graceful composition for an excellent portrait by Giuseppe Bonito, one of the best artists working in Naples in the 18th century. It was painted by 1759, as attested by the age of the girl, probably in Naples, where she lived until her father took the Spanish throne and moved the family to Madrid. Bonito had been known for some time as a portraitist and was renowned for the realism of his sophisticated and refined painting; as a court painter, he is clearly skilful in this genre, as can be seen in this refined painting, in which the figure of the girl emerges from very few formal elements, with her beautiful dress and expression of serene calm, her gaze turned towards the viewer.