When Goya visited the Duchess’ estate in 1796 to 1797, she was thirty-five years old, just widowed, and in the flower of her beauty. Goya’s portrait has her pointing to the sand where the words, solo Goya (“only Goya”) are inscribed. The inscription had originally been covered, but during a cleaning of the painting in the 20th century, the words became revealed. Also, she wears rings inscribed “Alba” and “Goya.”
Note the ring on the hand and where it’s pointing. These tidbits and the fact Goya visited the Duchess shortly after her husband’s death have led some to speculate that the Duchess was Goya’s lover. My research says otherwise although not conclusive. So, while we may never know the true nature of their relationship it is obvious that they had something more than just a painter/client relationship. Just what that was will titillate people until some more compelling evidence otherwise reveals itself.
The Duchess died under mysterious circumstances in July 1802 at the age of 40. Although her death was ostensibly due to tuberculosis and a fever, more colorful scenarios have been suggested over the years, among them a theory that she was poisoned (this theory was dramatized in the film The Naked Maja). She had no biological issue although she did have an adoptive daughter, known as María de la Luz who was black and referred to as “la Negrita.”