Exhibition | Goya and the Enlightenment Court

Posted in books, catalogues, exhibitions by Editor on February 22, 2018

Antonio Carnicero Mancio, The Ascent of a Montgolfier Balloon at Aranjuez, ca. 1784, oil on canvas, 169 × 280 cm
(Madrid: Prado)

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Now on view at the Bilbao Fine Arts Museum:

Goya and the Enlightenment Court / Goya y la corte ilustrada
CaixaForum, Zaragoza, 28 September 2017 — 21 January 2018
Bilbao Fine Arts Museum, 14 February — 28 May 2018

Curated by Manuela Mena and Gudrún Maurer

Having studied in Italy, Francisco de Goya (Fuendetodos, Zaragoza, 1746 – Bordeaux, 1828) moved to Madrid in 1775 and was first employed at the court of Charles III to work on the production of tapestry cartoons on hunting themes for El Escorial. Goya achieved recognition some years later when he was first appointed painter to the King (1786) then First Court Painter (1799). Despite this success at court, Goya maintained his connections with his native Zaragoza, and his correspondence with his childhood friend Martín Zapater offers proof of this ongoing relationship with his circle of friends and relatives while also providing crucial information on the progress of his career. The Prado’s exceptional loan of 13 original letters offers the documentary counterpoint to Goya as court painter and this is in fact the essential argument of the exhibition, which moves between Goya’s success at the courts of Charles III and Charles IV and the persistent echoes of his origins through his continuing contact with those closest to him.

Francisco de Goya y Lucientes, The Grape Harvest, or Autumn, 1786, oil on canvas, 268 × 191 cm (Madrid: Prado).

Co-organised by the Museo Nacional del Prado, Fundación Bancaria “la Caixa” and the Bilbao Fine Arts Museum, Goya and the Enlightenment Court will be on display from 14 February until 28 May 2018, having previously been on view at the CaixaForum, Zaragoza. Curated by Manuela B. Mena and Gudrun Maurer, Chief Curator and Curator in the Department of 18th-century Painting and Goya at the Museo del Prado respectively, the exhibition brings together 96 works, many of which (71, of which 52 are oil paintings and the rest documents and examples of the decorative arts) come from the Museo del Prado. The remaining works on display comprise 9 paintings from the Bilbao Fine Arts Museum’s own collection and further loans from the Museo de Arte de Ponce, Puerto Rico, the Museo de Zaragoza, the Fundación Colección Ibercaja, the Sociedad Ecónomica Aragonesa de Amigos del País and a number of private collections.

In addition to the core group of canvases and cartoons by Goya, the exhibition also features works by other important 18th-century artists such as Luis Paret, Mariano Maella, José del Castillo, Luis Meléndez, Antonio Carnicero and Lorenzo Tiepolo, which together provide a context and also reveal the remarkable originality of Goya’s work. Finally, the exhibition includes examples of the above-mentioned correspondence with Martín Zapater, in addition to miniatures, prints and examples of the decorative arts.

Along with extensive restoration carried out for to this exhibition, the research undertaken has revealed new information, reflected, for example, in the presentation of a new portrait and a miniature of Martín Zapater painted by Goya and by Francisca Ifigenia Meléndez respectively, as well as the attribution to Agustín Esteve of a copy of Goya’s lost portrait of Ramón Pignatelli. Other new discoveries to be seen in Bilbao include the recently restored portrait of Pantaleón Pérez de Nenín and the presentation in context of Luis Paret’s remarkable View of Bermeo, a work recently acquired by the Bilbao Fine Arts Museum.

Major sections of the exhibition address
1  ‘Zaragoza, my heart, Zaragoza, Zaragoza’
2  Goya and Madrid, 1775: Hunting
3  The Enlightenment Court: Meeting Points
4  Friendship and Success
5  Female Refinement in the 18th Century
6  Portraits of Basques and Navarrans

Manuela B. Mena Marqués, Gudrun Maurer, and Virginia Albarrán, Goya y la corte ilustrada (Madrid: Prado, 2018), 216 pages, ISBN: 978 849900 1944, 39€.

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