Painted in 1902, Zuloaga's depiction of the sitter in the present work is notably relaxed, strikingly immediate and appropriately candid. Elegantly perched with her head turned to face the viewer, nothing comes between the sitter and her audience, as she surveys all before her with a bemused gaze, bordering on the flirtatious. Dressed in a traditional lace mantilla over a richly patterned figure hugging dress, worn by unmarried ladies over a mantón
, she displays an open fan in her right hand and sports a dash of colour in the form of a posy of red and pink flowers on her chest. Relaxing on her lap, her dog sleepily eyes up the viewer. To either side of her, receding into the distance, are the Spanish plains symbolic of Spain's traditional heartlands. In this way, the sitter comes to personify not only a quintessentially Spanish beauty, but also a national identity: a profoundly Spanish soul.
Zuloaga had begun to paint such large scale portraits in the 1890s. In their monumental form he sought to celebrate Spain's rich culture and regional folklore. Initially he asked members of his family to sit for him. His cousin Cándida who lived in Segovia was a particular favourite, painting her likeness over twenty times. Discussing the power of Zuloaga's portraiture, Lafuente Ferrari comments: 'Those who watched or who sat for Zuloaga always felt that in some mysterious way, the artist transfused into his effigies a powerful and imperious life, in which there was something of his own strong personality and intense energy. ...Zuloaga lent his sitters a certain grandeur in their depiction... For Zuloaga, character is everything; details, features and subtleties are sacrificed to it, while gesture, action and gaze are stressed with atrocious energy. Above all else the gaze... Zuloaga was "the painter of eyes"; but these eyes do not so much invite us to see into a soul as impose upon us their personal and peculiar charge of energy.' (Lafuente Ferrari, pp. 285 & 286).
Zuloaga’s choice of motifs and his celebration of this theme of everyday Spanish life epitomises the ideals of the Generación del 98, a group of writers and artists who sought to encourage the patriotic regeneration of their country’s culture in the wake of Spain’s loss of her colonial empire at the end of the Spanish American War in 1898.