NGV National Gallery of Victoria

Barbara of Portugal

Louis-Michel van Loo
French 1707–1771
Bárbara de Braganza
oil on canvas
65.0 x 50.0 cm
Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid (P04172)

Lived: 4 December 1711 – 27 August 1758

Married to Ferdinand VI.

Maria Barbara of Braganza was married to Ferdinand VI in order to strengthen Spain and Portugal’s alliance. She had considerable influence over her husband and he depended on her for advice and support. Barbara had a cultivated upbringing and especially loved music. The royal couple were great patrons of the theatre, supporting lavish staged celebrations and pageants by the Italian opera singer and scenographer Carlo Broschi Farinelli. Barbara gave birth to a still-born son early in her marriage, but after that the couple produced no heirs. She was a severe asthmatic for most of her life and died aged 46.