The Museo del Prado and the AXA Foundation present "Goya in Madrid". This exhibition will propose a new approach to Goya's tapestry cartoons, the commission that brought the artist to the Royal Court and led him to settle definitively in Madrid. Goya devoted two decades of his career to this work between 1775 and 1794, a period in which he established his reputation as a Court and Academy painter. Unlike habitual presentations of this series of works, which tend to be organised strictly in relation to the realms for which they were created, this exhibition compares and contrasts the cartoons according to their themes, whilst also linking them to work by Goya's contemporaries (Mengs, Tiepolo, Bayeu, Maella, Paret and Meléndez) and to the past masters (Titian, Rubens, Teniers and Velasquez) that Goya would have been able to study in the Spanish Royal Collection and who served as models for his own creations.
This thematic journey will be made up of 142 works, highlighting the fact that Goya's tapestry cartoons constitute one of his most important series when it comes to gaining an in-depth insight into the great master's work.
In Rooms A and B in the Jerónimos Building, the Museo del Prado and the AXA Foundation present "Goya in Madrid", an exhibition that seeks to review Goya's extraordinary series of tapestry cartoons, effectively illustrating the artist's connections with the past and the art scene of his day. At the same time, the exhibition will trace how the rich compositions, figures and expressions that appear in these paintings developed and evolved in the artist's subsequent creations, encompassing "cabinet" paintings, drawings and different series of prints. In this respect, the different sections of the exhibition will be based on a range of themes, scenes and compositions that have prevailed throughout the history of decorative painting, especially in Court ambiences, but which Goya interpreted in accordance with his own special vision of the world in a series of tapestry cartoons and oil-on-canvas paintings, the two formats used by the Royal Tapestry Factory to weave the tapestries based on these works.
The exhibition will present Goya's tapestry cartoons, together with works by the rest of the represented artists, in a manner that is radically different to the customary presentation in the Permanent Collection they belong to, where they are exhibited according to the chronological order of the corresponding series and the realms for which they were created. This extraordinary new exhibition will now revolve around eight thematic sections, effectively introducing the public to different technical aspects relating to these works and highlighting some of the lines of investigation that are likely to be pursued over the years to come. The exhibition will also establish Goya's tapestry cartoons as one of the artist's most important and decisive bodies of work when it comes to understanding his ideas and the way his artistic vision evolved.
The exhibition, which begins with a number of hunting themes, will show scenes from everyday life as it existed in his day, as well as reflecting the artist's interests through the realms of social class, the world of children, dance and music. These works also offer a critical view of the issues of his day, such as unequal marriage. All of these themes, compositions and perspectives will be compared with works by Goya's predecessors, such as Titian, Velasquez and Rubens, but also with paintings, sculptures and drawings by other artists who created works of art for the Royal Household over the second half of the eighteenth century, such as Francisco and Ramón Bayeu, José del Castillo and Mariano Salvador Maella. This comparison will show how Goya's work was new and different when portraying the society and life of his day, based on his own view of reality and the models that have crystallised in the collective imagination as being quintessentially Spanish and, above all, typical of Madrid: local inhabitants such as "majos" and "majas", which in compositions such as La merienda ("The Picnic"), La riña en la venta nueva ("Brawl at the New Inn"), El cacharrero ("The Ironmonger"), La vendimia ("The Grape Harvest"), and La nevada ("The Snowfall") Goya endows with a universal character.
The first results of the research that is being carried out at the Museo del Prado regarding these works will be presented to the general public at this exhibition. Thus, Goya's cartoon entitled Cazador cargando su escopeta ("Hunter Loading His Gun") will be shown to the public for the first time. This painting has undergone a complex and comprehensive restoration process in order to separate it from another picture that was joined to it through its lining as of 1933. The two works made up a single scene that can be contemplated at the exhibition through a reproduction: the left-hand side corresponded to a cartoon created by Matías Téllez, Zorro cogido por un cepo ("Wolf Caught in a Trap"), whilst the right-hand side consisted of Goya's cartoon known as Cazador cargando su escopeta ("Hunter Loading His Gun"), a work attributed to Ramón Bayeu at the time. The X-ray and infrared reflectography exhibited clearly show the point where the two canvases were joined together and also enable us to make out the figure of the dog in Goya's cartoon that was cut out. The restoration process has enabled us to recover the composition created by the Aragonese master by placing the figure of the dog back in its original position.
Furthermore, following its recent restoration, the work entitled Vista de la ciudad de Zaragoza ("View of the City of Saragossa") by Juan Bautista Martínez del Mazo, will be presented at this exhibition in its original dimensions, given that the sections added (probably in the eighteenth century) have now been covered by a newly-created frame. By means of a cleaning process this work has recovered its chromatic richness and variety, which has led, amongst other aspects, to a much clearer reading of its spatial effects.
Both restorations form part of the Museum's Restoration Programme, which enjoys the support of the Iberdrola Foundation as a "Protective Member" of the Museo del Prado.
The exhibition will also feature a number of multimedia devices developed in conjunction with Samsung in its capacity as the Museum's "Technological Collaborator". Amongst these, visitors will enjoy a carefully-chosen musical selection based on chronological and thematic criteria closely linked to the exhibition through an interactive multimedia application, replete with headphones and tablets.
"Goya in Madrid" coincides with the refurbishment process that forms part of the Collections Reorganisation Programme in the halls that make up the second floor of the south wing of the Museum, namely those containing Goya's tapestry cartoon collections and the Spanish eighteenth century paintings.
Curators: Manuela Mena, Head Curator of the Goya and 18th Century Art Department, and Gudrun Maurer, Curator of the Goya and 18th Century Painting Department at the Museo del Prado