Lot 103
  • 103

Francisco José de Goya y Lucientes

6,000,000 - 8,000,000 USD
bidding is closed


  • Francisco de Goya
  • Portrait of Mariano Goya, the artist's grandson
  • inscribed by the artist on the reverse:  Goya á su/ nieto en 1827/ á/ los 81 de su/ edad [Goya, to his grandson, at 81 years old]
  • oil on canvas


Mariano Goya y Goicoechea, Madrid (according to the inscription on the reverse);
Eduardo Cano (1823-1897), Madrid;
Manuel Ussel (also known as Wssel) (1833-1907), Seville and later Cartagena, Spain;
Manuel de Urzaiz, Seville; by 1887;
Possibly D. Zubina, Seville, by 1902;1
With M. Knoedler & Co., New York;
From whom acquired by George Embiricos in 1954.


The Hague, Mauritshuis, and Paris, Orangerie des Tuileries Goya, 14 July - 7 December 1970, no. 58.


C. Muñoz y Manzano, El Conde de la Viñaza, Goya: su tiempo, su vida, sus obras, Madrid 1887, p. 256, cat. no. LXLIX;
P. Lafond, Goya, Paris 1902, p. 130, no. 140;
A. Calvert, Goya: An Account of his Life and Works, New York 1908, p. 136, cat. no. 163;
A.L. Mayer,  Francisco de Goya, English edition, London and Toronto 1924, p. 158, no. 313a  (as quoted from Viñaza no. 99) ;
D. Angulo Iñíguez, "Un retrato de Mariano Goya, por su abuelo", in Archivo Español de Arte, vol. XXI, no. 84 (October-December 1948), pp. 305-307, reproduced p. 304;
A. B. de Vries and J. Baticle, Goya, exhibition catalogue, The Hague 1970, np, cat. no. 58, reproduced; 
P. Gassier and J. Wilson, Goya, Life and Work, English edition, London and New York 1971, pp. 351-352 and 361, cat. no.1664, reproduced in color, p. 353;
J. Gudiol, Goya, 1746-1828:  Biography, Analytical Study and Catalogue of His Paintings, (translated by K. Lyons), Barcelona 1971, vol. I, p. 350, cat. no. 765, reproduced, vol. IV, p. 1010, fig. 1272;
R. de Angelis, L'opera pittorica completa di Goya, Milan 1974, pp. 136-137, cat. no. 693, reproduced;
J. Camón Aznar, Goya, Zaragoza 1980-2, vol. IV, p. 222, reproduced p. 328 (incorrectly as private collection Madrid);
A.E. Pérez Sánchez, Goya, English edition, London 1990, p. 155, no. 24, reproduced;
J.L. Morales y Marín, Goya, A Catalogue of His Paintings, English edition, Zaragoza 1997, p. 360, no. 525, reproduced;
P.E. Muller, in The Dictionary of Art, London 1996, vol 13, p. 249;
J. Brown and S.G. Galassi, Goya's Last Works, exhibition catalogue, New York 2006, pp. 22, 84, 88 and reproduced p. 23, fig. 14.


The following condition report has been provided by Simon Parkes of Simon Parkes Art Conservation, Inc. 502 East 74th St. New York, NY 212-734-3920, simonparkes@msn.com, an independent restorer who is not an employee of Sotheby's. This touching and intimate portrait is in lovely condition. The canvas is unlined. The original inscription is clearly visible on the reverse. The tacking edges have been reinforced, but the surface is very attractive even though the work is not supported. Goya is known for his rapid execution, and there are barely any restorations and very little of what I would consider to be damage or abrasion. It is not clear how heavily he would have applied the paint describing the black scarf or the paint in the hair, but given that the coat and the darker marks of the eyes and eyebrows are so undamaged, I think it is fair to say that the thinness that one sees in the scarf and hair is mostly intentional. Under ultraviolet light, there is a small restoration in the lower right, and a spot or two in the background immediately to the left of the cheek and in the upper left corner. We recently restored this painting, and I feel that the level of restoration is appropriate. During the restoration process, a lining and its adhesive were removed, revealing the clear and undamaged inscription that is visible today. The canvas is healthy, as is the gesso and paint layer, and so although the reverse of the canvas has been de-acidified with a light application of Beva-371, it is only the tacking edges that have been lightly reinforced to allow for safe stretching. The paint layer was cleaned, although much of an older varnish was left undisturbed. There is good depth to the darkest colors, and I see no reason to further clean the work, which is in beautiful condition.
"This lot is offered for sale subject to Sotheby's Conditions of Business, which are available on request and printed in Sotheby's sale catalogues. The independent reports contained in this document are provided for prospective bidders' information only and without warranty by Sotheby's or the Seller."

Catalogue Note

In the summer of 1827, Francisco Goya, then 81 years old and in poor health, made the arduous journey from Bordeaux, where he was living in exile, to Madrid. He may have gone to ensure the continuing transfer of his pension as First Court Painter, for he had retired the previous year, but we have very little information about the trip apart from the fact that he traveled with Juan Bautista de Muguiro, a young friend and distant relative, and that he saw his grandson, Mariano.  The present work, a Portrait of Mariano, is a document of that visit, of Goya’s profound love for his grandson and of his remarkable transformation as an artist in the last years of his life. 

The first decades of the 19th century had been a period of great political upheaval in Spain.  There had been a brief liberal interval, but when Ferdinand once again regained the throne in November 1823, he overturned the Constitution, reinstated the Inquisition, and brought reprisals against his enemies.  Although Goya had been court painter, his pictorial inventions, particularly Los Caprichos and Disasters of War, his famous series of prints, and his words and actions proclaimed his tolerant outlook and belief in constitutional government.  With Ferdinand’s return he went into hiding and when amnesty for political enemies was declared in May 1824, Goya petitioned for a leave of absence from his court duties, using the excuse of poor health.  He left his family behind in Madrid, his son and daughter-in-law, Javier and Gumersinda, and his grandson, Mariano.  Goya’s relations with his son were tense.  Although when his mother died in 1812, Javier had inherited half of the couple’s property and also received a large portion of his father’s royal stipend, he continued to worry about his future inheritance.  His main concern was Goya’s involvement with Leocadia Zorilla de Weiss, a woman more than 40 years younger than Goya.  Goya and Leocadia had been living together since at least 1820, and Javier was afraid that she and her children, Guillermo and María del Rosario, would supplant him in Goya’s affections and inherit the remainder of his property.   His suspicions only deepened when Leocadia and her young children joined Goya in Bordeaux. 

Goya’s health was precarious:  in 1819 he had barely survived a terrible illness and afterwards was much reduced physically.  However, the move to France reinvigorated him and from the time of his arrival there until his death, he made more than 120 drawings in black crayon, invented a new type of miniature on ivory, took lithography from an essentially reproductive medium to a truly independent art form, as well as continuing to paint.  What is extraordinary is that he leapt beyond the bounds of his earlier work in all these various media and developed a late style that was simplified, bold and direct.  The circumstances of his exile and his greater fragility limited his painting mainly to portraits of his friends and close associates, of which fewer than a dozen survive.  In some, like the present, Goya included his age in his inscription to the sitter, suggesting, as Galassi notes, “that they were as much important markers in his life as they were likenesses of particular individuals in a specific moment in time.2   

The Bordeaux paintings are very different from the court portraits and commissions of his years in Spain in both composition and technique.  The first expression of this new style actually comes a little earlier with his Self Portrait with Dr. Arrieta of 1820, now in the Minneapolis Institute of Art.   The painting commemorates Goya’s recovery from his illness, which is thought to have been yellow fever, and shows the artist and Eugenio García Arrieta, the doctor who saved his life.  Goya looks out at us under half-closed eyes as Dr. Arrieta literally supports him, offering a glass of medicine.  The large blocks of color that make up the composition, the scale of the figures and their engagement with the viewer all mark a significant break from his earlier portraiture. 

The Portrait of Mariano is very different in mood but has the same directness and sense of connection with the observer.  Goya paints his grandson in bust length, looking directly at us.  He wears a black coat, a white shirt and white waistcoat and around his neck a large black cravat. His curly brown hair is like a halo around his head and with his large eyes and pink complexion he looks wonderfully handsome and guileless.  We can see from the picture itself that Goya worked quickly and boldly.  The paint is thinly and, in some places, impulsively applied, as, for example, where a grey-blue brushstroke corrects the prominent outline of Mariano’s ear.  For the face, Goya uses the olive/tan ground and builds up the features in broad strokes of flesh and pink, allowing the ground to show through.  He focuses mainly on the face, giving it character and volume, while the clothing is more summarily painted.  He deftly paints in the small, comma-shaped scar on Mariano's proper left check, a tiny blotch on his nearly perfect beauty.  On a fold of white cloth beneath the cravat are three small button-like dots, the left-most one appears to be covering a ruby red tie pin, which perhaps Goya found to be out of balance with the subdued colors of the rest of the composition.3  His painting of the cravat itself, with the heavy white strokes showing through the black, is a masterly achievement.  On the reverse of the canvas he scrawls an inscription in very dilute paint:  Goya á su/ nieto en 1827/ á/ los 81 de su/ edad [Goya, to his grandson, at 81 years old], which had been transcribed but never reproduced until now, with the removal of an old relining canvas (fig.1). 

Perhaps the closest works from the Bordeaux period are the Portrait of Jacques (Santiago) Galos of 1826 in The Barnes Foundation, Philadelphia, and the Portrait of Juan Bautista de Muguiro of 1827, in the Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid (fig. 2).  The former is a bust-length portrait of comparable size, showing Galos, Goya’s banker, facing three-quarter right.  He is set against a similar gray background and set so close to the picture plane he almost seems to lean into our space. Just below his white cravat is a round tie-pin, though with a black stone rather than a ruby. The Portrait of Muguiro is a larger, three-quarter length representation and depicts the man who accompanied Goya on his trip to Madrid.  Muguiro is seated somewhat stiffly in a chair and looks up from his letter to stare directly at us.  Like The Portrait of Mariano, it is painted in the same impulsive style and focuses on the man and his personality.  However, as in the portrait of Mariano, Goya cannot resist a few bravura touches in his treatment of the white shirt front and wonderful black cravat.

Goya adored his grandson.  In September 1823 he had given him the Quinta del Sordo, his house on the outskirts of Madrid, which was decorated with the celebrated Black Paintings.  In Bordeaux he set aside a large portion of his pension in order to provide for Mariano and in 1827, on his brief visit to Madrid, he painted the present work, showing a remarkably handsome young man not yet twenty-one years old.  As depicted by his grandfather, Mariano looks frank and straightforward, but unfortunately he did not live up to his portrait.  He was a reckless and wasteful young man, who bought an aristocratic title to prop himself up and squandered the money his grandfather left him.   Eventually he sold all the works by Goya that belonged to the family, although how and when this portrait left the collection remains undocumented.  Fortunately Goya died in 1828 and so did not witness any of this. 

1.  Only P. Lafond mentions the Zubina provenance and he gives no indication of whom this might be.  See Literature.
2.  S.G. Galassi, “Portraits on Canvas,” in Goya’s Last Works, exhibition catalogue, New York 2006, p. 77.
3.  A similar tie pin is visible in the  Portrait of Jacques (Santiago) Galos.