When we first considered publishing an English-language online magazine about Spain we expected that most of our readers would be northern Europeans, people from cold climes who are familiar with Spain and might even have been here on holidays. We thought they would be British, Germans, Scandinavians, French, Belgians and Dutch, along with a few Americans, Russians, Japanese and Chinese. As a lot of these people already know Spain we thought we might be able to lure them gently to take a deeper look at the country and maybe even consider it as a place to set up housekeeping. We know that’s a good idea. We’ve done it ourselves.
The fourth and last part of the BBC’s Goya’s Third of May series brings the story up to our own time, citing examples of contemporary artists inspired by Goya to evoke the horrors of our own wars, beginning with Picasso, whose Spanish Civil War work, Guernika in 1937, was the most important historical painting of the 20th century. This chapter also discusses the Irish artist Robert Ballagh’s emulation of Goya with his Third of May,1970 painting that points up the parallels between the Napoleonic troops in Spain and the British in Northern Ireland.
This third part of this series opens with the man in white, the victim and ultimate victor of Goya’s Third of May painting. According to narrator, Samuel West, he is portrayed as super human. Even kneeling he’s larger than his executioners. West highlights the difference between Goya’s rendition of war and those of his contemporaries, whose paintings are tightly packed with figures, color, heroism and glory. Goya gains impact and realism by using few figures surrounded by the desolation of space. “The sky is not sky; it’s blackness,” comments West.
The facts behind Goya’s Third of May painting are incontrovertible. On May 2, 1808 French troops rounded up and detained in barracks all the Spaniards they found in Madrid carrying weapons. In the middle of that same night, at 4:00 a.m., they were taken in groups of 14 or 15 to a clearing at the edge of the city and executed by a firing squad.
A Peek Inside the Prado Museum’s Paper Restoration Workshop
Jose Manuel Matilla, chief of the Prado’s department of drawings and prints, gives us some insight into the restoration of Francisco de Goya’s “Caprichos amarillos” (a reference used internally that you will not find published), fourteen preliminary drawings for his “Caprichos” etchings portfolio. These were unburdened of the layer of yellow starch varnish applied to them at the beginning of the 20th century, and the paper was reconditioned, rehumidified and flattened. A bonus is the explanation of the work done on one of the artist’s most iconic drawings, “Aún aprendo,” “I’m still learning,” one of Goya’s last drawings made during his final years of merciful exile in Bordeaux. The restoration was based on a photograph of the drawing in its original condition.
This six-minute video celebrates The Meadow of San Isidro (La Pradera de San Isidro, 1788) by Francisco Goya, another precious little painting from the Prado collection that they have brought together in a show denominated Enclosed Beauty. From Fra Angelico to Fortuny (La belleza encerrada. De Fra Angelico a Fortuny). The commentary (with English subtitles) is by Enrique Quintana, Chief Coordinator of Paintings in the Prado Museum. More…
by Bart Sedgebear