PRADO MUSEUM PRESENTS MAJOR GOYA EXHIBITION
Madrid ’s Museo del Prado is mounting a major exhibition devoted to Goya to coincide with the 200th anniversary of Spain ’s War of Independence against Napoleon. Opening April 15 and running through July 13, “Goya in Times of War,” will present more than 200 works – paintings, drawings and prints – and will focus on the last 25 years of his life in which he evolved from the official Spanish court painter to an artist who created intricate studies of human nature.
The cornerstone of the exhibition will be the two great canvasses of The 2nd and 3rd of May 1808 which have been cleaned and restored for the first time. In the first painting, The Charge of the Mamelukes, Goya captured the tumultuous scene showing the heroism of the Madrileños defending their city from the “Tyrant of Europe” and the Mamelukes, his elite regiment of Egyptian guards. In The 3rd of May 1808, a dialogue of light and shadow plays out in this dramatic scene that portrays the city’s patriots being executed by a firing squad from Napoleon’s army.
The exhibition opens with works from the last years of the 18th century when Goya embarked on a new phase in his career, marked by greater creative freedom and by stylistic and conceptual advances. This phase culminated with the series of etchings known as Los Caprichos of February 1799 and with the painting of The Family of Charles IV of 1800. The show concludes with Goya’s last public commission, The Communion of Saint José de Calasanz, painted in 1819.
Between 1795 and 1819, Goya’s art and life evolved from his appointment in 1799 to First Court Painter where his services were placed at the disposition of the Spanish monarchy, to the freedom of his later years when he was primarily interested in the study of human nature and its conflicts. His work for the king and court changed to a more intimate style, increasingly focused on portraits of friends and on paintings in which he openly expressed progressive ideas or satirized evil, human ignorance and society’s defects. During this crucial period Goya primarily focused on drawing and printmaking, producing print series such as Los Desastres de la Guerra, (The Disasters of War), La Tauromaquia (Bullfighting) and Los Disparate (The Follies.) His drawings covered a wide variety of themes including the Inquisition and the repression, deception and madness, and other more optimistic subjects.
With the world’s largest collection of Goya – some 650 works – 150 paintings and 500 drawings and sketches – the Prado Museum is ideally positioned to present “Goya in Times of War.” Manuela Mena, chief curator of Goya and 18th-century Spanish Painting curated the exhibition which is jointly organized with the Sociedad Estatal de Conmemoraciones Culturales (SECC) with the collaboration of the region of Madrid.
The Prado Museum is located on Paseo del Prado, on Madrid ’s Art Walk. For more information call: 011-34-91-330-28-00, or go towww.museodelprado.es. Open daily, except Mondays, from 9 AM to 8 PM. Admission is about $9.10, or 6 euros, except Sundays (9 AM to 7 PM) when it is free. Visitors under 18, over 65 and students from EU countries under 25 are admitted free of charge. Students from non-EU countries under 25 pay about $4.55, or 3 euros.