Exhibition | Goya: The Witches and Old Women Album

Posted in books, catalogues, exhibitions by Editor on December 24, 2014

In the spirit of marking the 250th anniversary of Horace Walpole’s ’s The Castle of Otranto (published on Christmas Eve, 1764), I draw your attention to this upcoming exhibition, with best wishes for keeping the ghosts of Christmas at bay. CH

Goya: The Witches and Old Women Album
The Courtauld Institute of Art, London, 26 February 2015 — 25 May 2014

Curated by Juliet Wilson-Bareau and Stephanie Buck

1377.mediumThe Courtauld Gallery presents a groundbreaking exhibition which reunites for the first time all of the surviving drawings from one of Goya’s celebrated private albums. The albums were never intended to be seen beyond a small circle of friends, giving Goya the freedom to create images which range from the humorous, to the macabre and the bitingly satirical. With its themes of witchcraft, dreams and nightmares.

The ‘Witches and Old Women Album’ offers an important perspective on the development of Goya’s interest in old age, the fantastic and the diabolical. Above all, the drawings reveal his penetrating observation of human nature.

Additional information is available at The Guardian (10 December 2014).

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From Paul Holberton:

Juliet Wilson-Bareau with Stephanie Buck, Reva Wolf and Ed Payne, Goya: The Witches and Old Women Album (London: Paul Holberton Publishing, 2015), 200 pages, ISBN: 978-1907372766, £30.

Goya, Nightmare; Witches and Old Women; Album (D), page 20, ca. 1819–23. Brush, black ink, and wash on Netherlandish laid paper (New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art, Rogers Fund, 1919)

Goya, Nightmare, ‘Witches and Old Women’ Album (D), page 20, ca. 1819–23. Brush, black ink, and wash on Netherlandish laid paper (New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art, Rogers Fund, 1919)

One of the masterpieces of The Courtauld Gallery’s collection of Spanish drawings is a sheet known as Cantar y bailar (Singing and dancing), page 3 from Goya’s Album D, also known as the ‘Witches and Old Women’ album. Bringing together all the extant album pages, currently numbered up to 23, this catalogue proposes a reconstruction of the album that would include the sheets from which Goya’s page numbers have been erased or trimmed away.

Goya began to create ‘journal albums’ of drawings relatively late in life, after the shattering illness that left him stone deaf before the age of fifty. It was a practice he would sustain until his death, creating eight albums (named with letters A to H) that originally included a total of some 550 drawings. Visually, technically and intellectually coherent, these albums are unified in their discrete techniques and types of support, and paginated (after the first). In these album pages Goya committed to paper his views, with or without written comments, on human nature and the world around him. Each album has its own distinctive subject matter, style and technique.

The later history of the eight albums, already expertly chronicled, remains under investigation. The disbound album sheets were remounted in large volumes by Goya’s son, then sold en bloc by his grandson. Following their final dispersal by Federico de Madrazo and Valentín Carderera in the 1860s and 1870s, many gaps remain in all the albums.

This exhibition and the research underpinning it on Album D are the pilot for an international project for the reconstruction of Goya’s graphic oeuvre. The publication will test the extent of Album D and explore the possible sequence and thematic coherence of the sheets. The individual Album D drawings will be reproduced as a proposed reconstructed sequence, each with detailed catalogue entry and technical information. In addition, the publication will define the context of the album by including a number of closely related works by Goya.

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