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On this day… died Maria Isabel of Braganza

Maria Isabel of Braganza was an Infanta of Portugal court, the daughter of John VI of Portugal and Carlota Joaquina of Spain. She became queen of Spain when she married her maternal uncle Ferdinand VII of Spain on 29 September 1816. She was the second wife of Ferdinand VII, whose first wife had died childless.

Maria Isabel of Braganza was a very well-educated woman who loved the fine arts. As queen of Spain she dedicated herself to gather the works of art collected by the Spanish monarchy to create a royal museum, which would end up being the Museo Nacional del Prado in Madrid. Unfortunately, the museum was inaugurated on 19 November 1819, a year after Maria Isabel de Braganza died in very sad circumstances.

Her death

She died giving birth to her second child. The baby was in breech and the physicians soon found that the child had died; Maria Isabel stopped breathing and the doctors thought she was dead and when they started cutting her up to extract the dead baby, she suddenly shouted in pain and collapsed on her bed, bleeding heavily. She died on 26 December in 1818.

Her portrait

Maria Isabel of Braganza, Queen of Spain, as Founder of the Museo del Prado (1829)

This is a posthumous portrait by Bernardo López Piquer, the artist used as a model the oval-shaped bust portrait that his father had made around 1816 and of which there are several replicas. The queen is combed according to the empire fashion and wears a red velvet suit embroidered in gold with floral motifs. It is remarkable the particular iconography of the portrait, with the queen represented as the founder of the Royal Museum of Painting and Sculpture known now as the Museo Nacional del Prado. The building looks out the window in a perspective from the northwest, with the look it had when it opened in 1819.