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de Ayala, Josefa (1630–1684)

de Ayala, Josefa (1630–1684)

Portuguese painter of the 17th century. Name variations: Josefa de Obidos; Josefa Aiala Figueira. Born Josefa Aiala Figueira in 1630, probably in Seville, Spain; died on July 22, 1684; buried in the church of São Pedro in Obidos; daughter of Baltazar Gomes Figueira and Catalina de Ayala y Cabrera.

Details of Josefa de Ayala's early years remain obscure. She was born in 1630, probably in Seville, Spain, although some have placed her birth in Obidos (Portugal). She seems to have been the daughter of a minor Portuguese painter, Baltazar Gomes Figueira, and his Spanish wife, Catalina de Ayala y Cabrera . In 1640, Portugal asserted its independence from Spain, and shortly thereafter the family apparently moved to Obidos. Living in the Quinta da Capeleira outside the walls of Obidos, Josefa became a fixture in her father's studio and early showed artistic talent.

It was soon evident that her abilities surpassed his. At 19, she made engravings for the Estatutos for the University of Coimbra. She worked with a broad variety of mediums: oils, water colors, ceramics, metals, and drawings. Her still life's were considered especially good. Among Josefa's portraits was that of the Portuguese queen Marie Françoise of Savoy (1646–1683). Many of the churches and monastic houses near Obidos commissioned works from de Ayala. As her fame spread, visitors to the spa at the Caldas da Rainha made it a point to visit her studio. She died on July 22, 1684, and was buried in the church of São Pedro in Obidos.


Costa, Luis Xavier da. Uma Aguafortista do Século XVII (Josefa Ayala). Coimbra: Imprensa da Universidade, 1931.

Hernández Díaz, José. Josefa de Ayala, pintora ibérica del siglo XVII. Sevilla: Ayuntamiento de Sevilla, 1967.

Kendall W. Brown , Professor of History, Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah

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