Francisco Goya’s portrait of the Duchess of Alba (1797) will make a rare outing from New York when she makes her way to the National Gallery in London for Goya: the Portraits (7 October-10 January 2016). The only previous loan of the work abroad by the New York-based Hispanic Society was to the Prado in Madrid. It is as if Velázquez’s Las Meninas were to be loaned out by the Prado, says Xavier Bray, the exhibition’s guest curator, who is the chief curator of the Dulwich Picture Gallery in south London. Under the new chairmanship of Philippe de Montebello, the former director of New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Hispanic Society plans to make one of the greatest collections of Spanish art outside of Spain more accessible. Bray says that securing the loan was vital for the exhibition. “There is no show on Goya portraits without the Duchess of Alba,” he says.