José María Álvarez de Toledo, 15th Duke of Medina Sidonia

José MaríA ÁLvarez De Toledo, 15th Duke Of Medina Sidonia

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José María Álvarez de Toledo, 15th Duke of Medina Sidonia

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'Don José María Álvarez de Toledo y Gonzaga, 15th Duke of Medina Sidonia, 11th Marquis of Villafranca del Bierzo, Grandee of Spain, jure uxoris Duke of Alba de Tormes, Grandee of Spain (16 July 1756 – 9 June 1796) was a patron of the artist Francisco Goya.


Álvarez de Toledo was born in 1756 in Madrid. He became chamberlain, at thirteen, to King Charles IV of Spain. He, originally Marquess of Villafranca, married his kinswoman Doña María del Pilar Teresa Cayetana de Silva y Álvarez de Toledo, 13th Duchess of Alba, who was the legendary "Duchess of Alba" in Goya's paintings, thus becoming de jure uxoris Duke of Alba. Their marriage made them the wealthiest couple in the kingdom; they competed against the Osuna family. A year after his marriage, he inherited the dukedom of Medina-Sidonia and joined two of the most important Houses of the Spanish nobility.

The failed attempt of his friend Alejandro Malaspina to oust Queen María Luisa's favourite Manuel de Godoy in favour of the Duke of Alba put an early end to the political career of the progressive aristocrat.

In 1796, Álvarez de Toledo y Gonzaga died on June 9 in Seville.

In a famous portrait by Goya, the duke is clad in elegant riding clothes. With an air of melancholy he looks up from the music book he is holding in his hands, including the "Four songs/with piano accompaniment/by Mr. Haydn". The duke commissioned several works from Joseph Haydn and was a gifted musician himself. In...
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