Francisco de Goya y Lucientes (Spanish), A Procession of Flagellants. c. 1812-14. Oil on panel, 46 x 73 cm. Royal Academy of San Fernando, Madrid, Spain.
Francisco de Goya y Lucientes (Spanish), Friar Pedro Clubs the Maragato with the Butt of the Gun, Oil on panel, 29.2 x 38.5 cm. Chicago, The Art Insititute of Chicago, Mr. And Mrs. Martin A, Ryerson Collection.
Francisco de Goya y Lucientes (Spanish), The 2nd of May 1808 in Madrid: the charge of the Mamelukes, 1814, 268 cm x 347 cm, Royal Collection.
Francisco de Goya y Lucientes (Spanish), The 2nd of May 1808 (Before restoration).
Francisco de Goya y Lucientes (Spanish), The 3rd of May 1808 in Madrid: the executions on Principe Pio hill, 1814, Oil on canvas, 268 cm x 347 cm.
Francisco de Goya y Lucientes (Spanish), The 3rd of May 1808 (Before restoration).
Francisco de Goya y Lucientes (Spanish), La Leocadia o Una manola. Pintura al óleo sobre muro trasladada a lienzo. 147,5 x 129,4 cm. Museo del Prado (Madrid).
Francisco de Goya y Lucientes (Spanish), The Duke and Duchess of Osuna and their Children, 1787-1788, 225 cm x 174 cm.
Francisco de Goya y Lucientes (Spanish), Bandit Killing a Woman, Oil on canvas, 31 x 41 cm. Marquis de la Romana Collection.
Francisco de Goya y Lucientes (Spanish), Capricho 43. El sueño de la razón produce monstruos, 1797.
Francisco de Goya y Lucientes (Spanish), The Witches' Flight, 1798, 43,5 cm x 30,5 cm.
Francisco de Goya y Lucientes (Spanish), Mujeres riendo, 1819-1823, Pintura al óleo sobre muro trasladada a lienzo. 125 x 65,5 cm. Museo del Prado (Madrid).
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Goya in Times of War
April 14-July 13, 2008
Between 1792 and 1793 Goya had a serious, although as yet unidentified illness that left him deaf. He returned Madrid after a period of convalescence in Cadiz and his art assumed a new and independent direction through his early albums of drawings, a phase that would culminate in 1799 with the publication of the Caprichos. Painting for himself rather than on commission and expressing his own ideas, Goya produced small-format paintings in which he depicted increasingly dramatic scenes of violence and neglect, such as Prisoners in a Cave, Yard with Lunatics and various scenes of cannibals, all cruel metaphors of man and civilization. Dating from the final years of this decade are the “scenes of witches” in which — in a manner comparable to the Caprichos — Goya used these figures from popular culture to express different meanings, from evil and ignorance to more elevated ideas. Around 1795, when Spain declared war on revolutionary France in the War of Rosellón following the execution of Louis XVI, Goya resumed his intense activity of the previous years, receiving commissions for portraits of aristocrats and politicians. He continued to paint for his patrons the Duke and Duchess of Osuna and for Jovellanos, while new clients included the Duke and Duchess of Alba and Godoy. For the latter he painted The naked Maja, a modern title that distorts the original perception of the work as a Venus. The Church continued to be a crucial patron, and during these years Goya executed important works such as those for the Oratorio de la Santa Cueva in Cadiz, the frescoes for the church of San Antonio de la Florida in Madrid, and The Taking of Christ for Toledo Cathedral (on display here). He also started to produce modern and informal portraits of his friends, such as those of Martín Zapater and Céan Bermúdez. This phase in Goya’s career culminated with his appointment as Court Painter in October 1799, the highest rank within the career of official painter.
To coincide with the 200th anniversary of the events of May 1808 and the start of the Spanish War of Independence, the Museo del Prado is presenting a major exhibition this spring devoted to Goya. It focuses on the two great canvases of the 2nd and 3rd of May 1808 in Madrid which are currently being cleaned and restored, while also analysing and presenting Goya in a broader context. The exhibition, which features almost 200 works by the artist, has been jointly organised by the Museo del Prado and the SECC, with the support of the Region of Madrid. It falls within the framework of the commemorative programme sponsored by the National Committee for the Bicentenary of the Spanish War of Independence.
With the present exhibition, the Museo del Prado is commemorating the bicentenary of the start of the Spanish War of Independence. It will offer the visiting public the chance to see a group of almost 200 works by Goya. In addition to works on paper, they include more than 65 paintings loaned from other institutions and private collections, including Majas on the Balcony and Portrait of the Marchioness of Montehermoso, both from private collections; Friar Pedro de Zaldivia clubs Maragato the Bandit from The Art Institute of Chicago; The Capture of Christ from Toledo Cathedral, and a group of nine works loaned by the Real Academia de Bellas Artes de San Fernando, Madrid. The latter are essential to the theme of the exhibition and will be presented for the first time within the context of Goya's artistic development. Both the number of works on display and their outstanding quality make this the most important international exhibition on Goya since the one also organised by the Prado in 1996.
On 6 February 1799 the Diario de Madrid published an advertisement for the Caprichos, a visual satire on men’s vices and the absurdity of human conduct. Over the previous years Goya had focused intensely on drawing, representing images of daily life and devising imaginary compositions through which he presented satires of modern life. The result of this activity was the Sanlúcar Album and the Madrid Album, which contain the seeds of some of the ideas expressed in the Caprichos. The series focuses on four principal themes: deceit in relationships between men and women; satirical comment on poor education and ignorance; a condemnation of society’s traditional vices; and a protest against the abuses of power.
With the new century, Europe witnessed the rise of Napoleon who would become Consul and Emperor in the space of a few years. In 1800 Goya painted The Family of Charles IV, a brilliant allegory of Bourbon power, although also a reflection of the Ancien Régime in contrast to the modern nature of power in France, now an ally of Spain who thus found itself in conflict with England. Guillemardet, the Consulate’s active and proud new ambassador in Spain, offered a contrast to the negligent Godoy, “victor” of the farcical War of the Oranges. Rising to the challenge of devising a new type of portrait of the proud and haughty landowning aristocracy and the rising and prosperous middle class with its entrepreneurial and pragmatic attitudes, Goya revealed a remarkable capacity to capture the nature of his sitters. Presenting each of his sitters differently and individually, he invested them with an admirable psychological realism, reflecting external appearance as well as the sitter’s unique, personal universe. Following the fashion of the day, Goya depicted cultured aristocratic women as Muses, either painting, such as the Marchioness of Villafranca, or with their musical instruments, such as the Marchioness of Santa Cruz. He also painted ambassadors, ministers, such as Antonio Noriega, and intellectuals of the day, such as the director of the Academia de Historia, José Vargas Ponce. The portrait of The Countess of Chinchón, elevated to the rank of princess through her marriage to Godoy and victim of the monarchs’ interests, is displayed here next to the image of her husband (with which it may have once formed a pair) for the first time in more than 200 years. In these works Goya’s brushstroke perfectly conveys different materials, textiles, flowers, weapons and pieces of furniture, while the draughtsmanship is secure, the colouring brilliant and the technique restrained. The artist spent these fruitful years up to the Revolt of Aranjuez and the French invasion satisfying the demands of patrons eager for his portraits, a situation that resulted in a decrease in his creative independence, although the masterly series on the bandit Maragato also dates from this period.
Goya was in Madrid on 2 May 1808, the day of the uprising against the French. In late October he went to Zaragoza on the invitation of Palafox to paint the heroism of the first siege of that city. Under the regime of José I Bonaparte, who awarded him the Royal Order of Spain, and with friends in important positions, Goya continued to work as Court Painter, executing portraits of some of the key figures in the pro-French government and the Napoleonic army, such as General Guye. His drawings of these years depict the modernising measures implemented by the French, but he also produced the series of prints entitled Fatal Consequences of the bloody War of Spain against Bonaparte as well as other similar paintings that convey his pessimistic view of the violence and dehumanisation brought about by the war. The melancholy series of Still Lifes dates from this period, as do other more personal paintings, such as Majas on the Balcony. Goya used an obsessively realist technique in his official portraits and a different, more direct and rapid manner in his more informal portraits such as those of his wife’s parents and of his beloved grandson, Mariano.
The 2nd and 3rd of May 1808
Commissioned during the Regency, recently rediscovered documents prove that Goya painted these compositions after Fernando VII’s entry into Madrid, between June and October 1814. In contrast to patriotic commemorations of the victims of 2 May in Madrid, here, as in The Disasters of War (which provided their starting-point), Goya emphasised the madness and irrationality of violence that leads human beings to fight to the death. The paintings were conceived as a pair, one a daytime and the other a night-time scene, in which parallel groups and figures emphasise the idea that the violence committed by the Spanish people against the French troops provoked the equally cruel violence of the French against their attachers. Rather than epic heroism, Goya reflects inhuman cruelty and terror in the face of death, which the characters confront with anguish, despair and repentance. Only the horses in the first scene look out towards the viewer, communicating the sense of human madness through their intelligent and rational gazes. Goya’s varied technique and superb use of light function to create the expressivity and realism of these two scenes, qualities that appear together only much later in nineteenth-century painting.
In May 1815, Goya was found not guilty by the regime of Ferdinand VII of collaboration with the French, despite having worked for José I. He painted the portraits of Ferdinand and his followers, and a final work for the royal palace, Saint Elizabeth of Portugal curing a sick Woman. During these years Goya executed several important commissions such as the painting of the Junta de Filipinas (Castres, Musée Goya), as well as various altarpieces: Saints Justa and Rufina for Seville, and The Last Communion of Saint Joseph of Calasanz, his last public work. He also produced a series of small-format paintings, now in the Academia de San Fernando, and a number of portraits. Some are austere works in which black is the prevailing tone while others are of a luminous, pre-Romantic nature, all marked by his outstanding ability to convey the psychology of the sitter. Goya increasingly focused on his albums of drawings through which he denounced Ferdinand’s repression of the liberals, and on two series of prints, the Tauromaquia and the Disparates [Follies], while also experimenting with the new technique of lithography. In 1819 he again fell gravely ill but recovered and embarked on a new period of freedom and modernity in the works executed during his exile in Bordeaux.
The latter half of the second decade of the century, between 1815 and Goya’s serious illness in late 1819, was marked by a period of enormous creative activity. Goya’s artistic and public life in Spain culminated with the large altarpiece The Last Communion of Saint Joseph of Calasanz. It concluded the cycle begun almost fifty years earlier in 1773 when the artist painted the Small Choir of the basilica of El Pilar, his first religious work. As on previous occasions, the contrast between light and shade becomes a metaphor for the confrontation between wisdom and ignorance, and between the saint’s goodness and intelligence, as he is received by the divine light, and the surrounding shadows of those who accuse him of heresy. Similarly, Goya used this alternation of light and shadow in his portrait of his friend the architect and Freemason Tiburcio Pérez Cuervo (1820). Saints Justa and Rufina painted for Seville Cathedral has a monumental, classicising beauty of great serenity. This type of beauty is also evident in the contemporary drawings in The Black Border Album E, in the beautiful image of Philosophy and in The Sufferings of War, in which the figure of a crippled beggar offers a fierce moral and political critique of the misery suffered by those who had sacrificed all for their country. Once again, the portraits of this period reflect Goya’s ability to capture his sitters’ personalities. In 1817 he painted two members of the Osuna family, who were loyal patrons of the artist throughout his life. As with religious his paintings, these were the last portraits that Goya produced of the aristocracy, a labour he had begun forty years earlier with The Family of the Duke and Duchess of Osuna of 1787 (Madrid, Museo del Prado). Now, The Duchess of Abrantes and her brother, The 10th Duke of Osuna, close this cycle with the same luminous beauty and sense of aristocratic dignity to be found in earlier works.
The two paintings of The 2nd and The 3rd of May, painted by Francisco de Goya in 1814, entered the collections of the Museo del Prado at an early date but were not exhibited together until well into the 19th century. The first to go on display was The 2nd of May, which was seen by foreign visitors in the late 1840s, followed in the 1860s by The 3rd of May. With regard to early restorations, the only information now known is that in 1883 the painter-restorer Salvador Martínez-Cubells varnished the two canvases, as he noted in his workbook still preserved in the Museum. In 1936, during the Spanish Civil War and with the aim of avoiding damage to the paintings, they were carefully packed and transported in lorries to Valencia along with numerous other masterpieces from the Museum’s collection. In March 1938 they were sent to Girona and it was during this trip that the lorry transporting them was involved in a crash while passing through the village of Benicarló. The two paintings, which were packed together, received a heavy blow that split the canvases along various horizontal lines. While both were affected it was The 2nd of May that suffered the greatest damage, and two small pieces of canvas painted with original paint and possibly in very poor condition were lost on the road. These two missing areas are on the left side of the canvas at the middle and top.
In May 1938 the paintings were re-lined in the Castillo de Peralada in Girona by Tomás Pérez and Manuel Arpe y Retamino, the liner and restorer of the Museo del Prado respectively. The process of re-lining basically consists of attaching a new canvas to the back of an old, damaged one in order to give it greater resistance and strength.
In September 1939, after the end of the War, the paintings returned to the Prado where Manuel Arpe y Retamino completed the restoration of both canvases through the process of retouching or re-integrating. This involved dissimulating the damage and splits produced during the accident and applying new pigment to the areas of losses of original paint. Arpe re-integrated the original paint over the cuts in the canvas, but for the larger missing areas he decided to use a technique known as “neutral tint”, which was common in the restoration of wall paintings. This technique is used when the restorer is faced with large areas of loss and does not know the original appearance of these areas. It consists of applying a uniform colour to the area of loss which is not excessively obtrusive and which blends with the general tonality of the work.
Following Arpe y Retamino’s restoration the resulting appearance was maintained for both paintings until the most recent restoration.
In 2000, the Museo del Prado decided to restore the paintings and with this aim in mind convened an international symposium at the Museum, attended by art historians specialising in Goya and leading restorers.
In the restoration undertaken in 1941 the paintings had been given a coat of varnish which, due to the passing of time and inevitable oxidisation, had lost its transparency and turned into a yellow coating that obscured the original colours. Restoration of paintings should be undertaken when they are considered to be at physical risk or when the colours, glazes and other technical devices have become obscured or altered by dirt that has accumulated over the original surface. This was the case with The 2nd and The 3rd of May, and for this reason the idea of cleaning them was first considered in the late 1990s. Eliminating dirt and yellowed varnish is a process comparable to tuning a musical instrument and the result facilitates communication between artist and viewer.
The yellowed varnishes have been removed in both works using a cleaning process that has revealed the depth and profundity of the original colours. In addition, it is now possible to see technical details and brushstrokes that were hidden by the old varnish. The paintings were created as a pair and in their newly cleaned state it is possible to appreciate more easily the elements that relate them. The colours have regained their former depth and intensity, the figures are now in their appropriate locations and above all, the full importance of the light and its nuances is now evident.
Apart from the damage that occurred during the Civil War, the present state of the paintings is exceptionally good. Close inspection of the works reveals well conserved pigment, and the quality and variety of the tones in any small area chosen at random. If we also bear in mind the size of the canvases and the fact that they are a pair, it is possible to fully appreciate their exceptional nature.
When the decision was taken to restore these outstandingly important paintings, it was unanimously decided in the Museum that the so-called “neutral” tints could not be retained as they significantly interfered with a correct reading of The 2nd of May in a variety of ways. The original lost paint surface, covered with a reddish tone in the 1941 restoration, displaced the viewer’s gaze from the warm original colours (the red breeches of the Mamelukes) towards the left of the composition. Also, our gaze was lost in the area of red paint in the area originally occupied by the curved sabre, deliberately painted in that spot by Goya in order to close that corner of the composition and return the viewer’s gaze to the centre of the canvas.
Perhaps the most important point for clarifying the issue of the restoration and re-integration of the lost zones has been the fact that the Museum has sufficient visual documentation on the works dating from prior to the damage.
The existence of black and white photographs taken before the Civil War (Moreno, Alinari and Ruiz Vernacci archives) and the modifications to the colour and composition undertaken in 1938 were determining factors when the decision was made to reconstruct the paintwork of the lost areas using a computer-manipulated stencil based on the old photographs. This allowed for a type of restoration not possible in 1941.
The technique of reconstruction involved the application of small stripes of colour which allow the viewer to appreciate the restored zones from close up but which blend into the overall vision of the work when seen from a distance, camouflaging the losses and thus allowing for a better visual understanding of the whole.
The two paintings have been re-varnished using a natural damar resin that has given the canvasses a texture similar to the one they would originally have possessed.
The restoration of the two canvases took different amounts of time. With regard to The 2nd of May, Elisa Mora started work on preliminary tests and studies approximately a year ago as the characteristics and specific problems of this work meant that the restoration process would be a lengthy one. The restoration of The 3rd of May by Clara Quintanilla and Enrique Quintana involved cleaning the oxidised varnishes in a way similar to that undertaken on The 2nd of May but less time was required overall as the retouching of paint losses was less complex.