The painting was conceived as a steam room to the portrait of Donna’s husband Isabel de Porsel, Don Antonio de Porsel. The couple were close friends of Goya, and he, a guest in their house, as a token of gratitude for the cordiality, wrote them. It so happened that the portrait of her husband came to Buenos Aires and was kept in a jockey club, but the fire that happened to him destroyed him.
The portrait of Donna Isabel de Porcel, almost certainly the one that Goya took for an exhibition at the Academy of San Fernando in Madrid in 1805, remained there. In 1896 it was acquired by the National Gallery.
Donna Isabel is dressed like a macha on the canvas. In Madrid, the XVIII century, this style was associated with a woman from the bottom of society, easy behavior. But by the end of the century and the beginning of the next, for several reasons, he became fashionable in aristocratic circles: as an expression of the national-patriotic spirit and, probably, because he emphasized the feminine mystique and beauty of the indispensable black mantillas and high waist.
This dress justifies the pose of the model that is characteristic of flamenco: the left arm is bent at the elbow and rests against the thigh, while the torso and head are sharply turned in the opposite direction. If it were not connected with the image of the mahi, it would be perceived very vulgarly. In the picture, the outfit and behavior are the expression of the aristocratic game into something risky. Of course, this could not be done without Isabel’s “permission”.