The personality and the works of Maria del Rosario Weiss provoked in the past as well as in the present time a great interest for specialists and amateurs of art. In the first place, she was an outstanding woman and artist who lived in the time of great discriminations towards women and especially those who aspired to the liberal profession just like the profession of a painter. In the second place, her relationship with Francisco de Goya, as she was a privileged student and possibly a daughter of the great Aragoneese painter. And last but not least, a hot dispute that arose many years later in the artistic circles concerning the authorship of the canvas "The Milkmaid from Burdeos", that belonged to the last period of Goya's works.
Maria del Rosario Weiss was born in Madrid in 1814. She was an illegitimate daughter of Dona Leocadia Zorrilla, a wife of don Isidore Weiss who brought her to trial in 1812 for "adultery, illegal actions and bad behaviour" that resulted in the separation of the spouses. Leocadia was a housekeeper in the house of Goya and in addition his lover, which practically proves the paternity of the painter who was a widower of Josefa Bayeu since 1812.
Taking into consideration the situation of the family, the painter was in charge of the mother and the child. At the age of seven Rosario became his pupil and learned to paint, mainly copying the cartoon heroes and groups of people that the maestro was drawing. When the painter left for Burdeos in 1824, Rosario stayed at the Court in charge of the architect Tiburcio Perez and continued her artistic education, distinguishing herself in the use of chiaroscuro (treatment of light and shade). But before the end of the year Leocadia and Rosario went to burdeos to join Goya there, and the artist dedicated himself over again to the education of the young Weiss. The interest and care of Goya towards her can be proved by the letter that he wrote to his friend Joaquin Maria Ferrer asking him to accept her in Paris as she wanted to study painting in miniature there. In this letter Goya praised the artistic abilities of Rosario and asked his friend to treat her as if she were his daughter.
In the end Weiss did not go to Paris as she decided to enroll in the school of painting in Burdeos directed by Pierre Lacour. The same as she was doing with Goya, in this school she dedicated herself to copying as a method to learn, the preference being given to the romantic realism. The genre other copies was very important in her education because when she returned to Madrid in 1833 her activity as a professional copyist in the Museum of Prado was the only source of earning her living. This modus vivendi is interrupted in 1836 for technical reasons connected with the access to the paintings. Nevertheless she did not stop working as a copyist. It was then that we encounter one of the controversial issues in the career of Rosario Weiss: making copies with a purpose to sell them as originals. It seemed that Weiss was working for a Madrid restorer who possessed originals that could be copied by her.
This work was combined with her participation in the exhibitions of Fine Arts of the Academy of San Fernando, the first one was staged in 1835 and it displayed her canvas The Silencethat got a silver medal. In 1840 she exhibited her canvas The Praying Virgin that brought her the title of the Honoured Academician. In 1842 she was made the master of painting of the Queen Isabel II and her sister Dona Luisa Fernanda. The aim of the classes consisted in the artistic and aesthetic education of both women. Besides the two of the above-mentioned canvases the attention should be paid to Angel, Venus and Diana the same as to the drawings and the portraits in oil or in pastel. In the same way she made an interesting work as an illustrator with engraving made for the Artistic and Literary Liceum to which she dedicated her whole life. Finally she died in 1843 in Madrid of something misterious, although it seemed that her death was caused by a common disease of that time.