Francisco Pradilla y Ortiz (1848-1921) is sometimes considered a forgotten master artist, yet his biography includes serving as the Director of the Prado Museum, winning numerous international awards, including the French Legion of Honor, and he held the position of the Director of the Spanish Academy in Rome. But he is best remembered for his paintings of the subject Doña Juana La Loca (Joanna the Mad) spurred a new generation of historical painters in Spain.
Pradilla was heavily influenced by artists Ribera, Titian, Velázquez, and El Greco, all of whom are displayed in the Prado Museum permanent collection. To improve his own skills, he would copy the Old Master paintings and had a lifelong study of Greek and Roman texts, in addition to Spanish historical documents which inspired many of his paintings. An avid collector of rare books he also possessed the ability to speak several languages. In Queen Joanna the Mad (1877), the Spanish artist Francisco Pradilla uses romanticism elements of nature and an emotional scene to render a full realist painting that narrates an important historical event. The painting illustrates a view into the life of the Spanish Royal Joanna (1479-1555), who was the second daughter of King Ferdinand II and Queen Isabella of Spain.
Many artists explored the subject of Joanna because, after the death of her husband, Joanna accompanied the body to its place of burial. She refused to sleep or leave the casket and kept vigil over the casket in torrential rain and winds. This, combined with other behaviors deemed as eccentric, estranged her from other royals. She spent the last years of her life in a convent which can be found in other paintings of her life.
WHERE TO FIND IT? This painting is on display at the PRADO Museum in Madrid, Spain.