Giuseppe Troni (attributed) Portugal, 1790-1807 Oil on canvas 122 x 94 cm
Title: Maria I, Queen of Portugal
Long Description: The first and only daughter of King José I, as future queen of Portugal, she received a refined education with a heavy religious emphasis that would later come to influence her entire reign. In 1760, she married her uncle, Prince Pedro (future King Pedro III), whom she held in great affection and in 1777 ascended to the throne on the death of her father.
The successive deaths of various of those whom she most cherished, in particular her husband (1786), her personal confessor, the prince and heir José, and her daughter Princess Mariana Vitória (1788) and in addition to the awful destiny of the French royal family in the wake of the French Revolution (1789), accentuated the mental frailty of the queen who was effectively removed from office in 1792.
In November 1807, on the eve of the arrival of the Napoleonic army in Lisbon, the queen joined the royal family as it departed for Brazil, where she would pass away on 20th March 1816.
The portrait in the National Palace of Queluz resembles, whether in terms of its physiognomy, the clothing or the adornments, that existing in the Royal Palace of Bemposta (1793), with both painted in a period when the queen's dementia would have prevented her from posing. They would instead have taken their inspiration from the portrait by Thomas Hickey (Dublin, 1741 – Madras, 1824) painted with the queen sitting at some time between 1780 and 1783. The portrait by the British painter, probably that today held by the Lisbon Academy of Science, would have served as the model for the majority of the subsequent portraits of the sovereign.
The National Palace of Queluz holds an engraving by Gaspar Fróis Machado (1759-1796), dated 1786, based on the painting by Hickey, as indicated by the inscription on the print (T. Hickeÿ. pinxit).
ABOUT GIUSEPPE TRONI
An Italian portrait painter nicknamed the “Big Throne”. Prior to his arrival in Portugal, he worked in Rome, Naples and Turin. Taking up residence in Lisbon in 1785, he received commissions from the royal family including highlights such as the Conception panel for the main chapel in the Bemposta Royal Palace Church, painted in 1793, which depicts Queen Maria I, then already relieved of queenly duties, and the royal family. There were also numerous miniature portraits and copies of the great masters such as Raphael and Titian.