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Joseph L. Mankiewicz
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"The Naked Maja" has beautiful sets and costumes, but only a passing acquaintance with reality. About the best that can be said is that it features some impressive views of Miss Gardner's lovely bosom.
Diego Velázques (1599-1660) painted one of the earliest known Spanish nudes, the Rokeby Venus, featured as the "loot" in the film "The Happy Thieves."
About two centuries after Velázques, Francisco Goya 1746-1828) painted a short, plump nude maja (street girl) reclining on a bed. When this picture was criticized as obscene, he painted the same girl again, in the same position but dressed, which makes her more, rather than less suggestive. The chunky girl in the "maja" paintings does not resemble Goya's portraits of the Duchess of Alba in any way.
When I was last in the Prado the two majas were hanging on either side of the door to the room housing the portrait of King Carlos IV and family and the queen was definitely not the lovely young woman who played the part in "The Naked Maja."
Goya also painted two portraits of his very close friend, the tall, angular Duchess of Alba, in one she is dressed in white and in the other, in black. The 'black portrait' shows the duchess pointing imperiously at the ground where the words "solo Goya" ("only Goya") can be seen written in the sand at her feet.
Milos Forman's "Goya's Ghosts" (2006) is a far better film and much closer to historical fact. Goya's passing affair with the Duchess of Alba, who was certainly not the girl in the Maja paintings, does not figure in the latter film.
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