Lot 26
  • 26

Francisco de Goya

500,000 - 700,000 GBP
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  • Francisco de Goya
  • Young woman in white falling to the ground
  • signed Goya (lower centre) and numbered by the artist 18 (upper right)
  • black chalk and lithographic crayon on paper
  • 18.7 by15cm


Charles Yriarte, Paris (acquired by 1877)
Succession Mme Le Coeur, 1922-24, Paris (expertise Delteil, no. 104 "femme morte étendue la tête en bas ou cadavre de femme (signé)")
Alfred Ströhlin, Paris & Lausanne (acquired by 1970)
Philippe Brame, Paris
Acquired from the above by the late owner in April 1990


Bordeaux, Musée des Beaux-Arts, Goya, Hommages. Les années bordelaises 1824-1828, 1998, no. 17, illustrated in the catalogue

Berlin, Kupferstichkabinett, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin & Preussischer Kulturbesitz, Linie, Licht und Schatten. Meisterzeichnungen und Skulpturen der Sammlung Jan und Marie-Anne Krugier-Poniatowski, 1999, no. 55, illustrated in colour in the catalogue

Venice, Peggy Guggenheim Collection, Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation, The Timeless Eye. Master Drawings from the Jan and Marie-Anne Krugier-Poniatowski Collection, 1999, no. 76, illustrated in colour in the catalogue

Madrid, Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza, Miradas sin Tiempo. Dibujos, Pinturas y Esculturas de la Coleccion Jan y Marie-Anne Krugier-Poniatowski, 2000, no. 81, illustrated in colour in the catalogue

Paris, Musée Jacquemart-André, La passion du dessin. Collection Jan et Marie-Anne Krugier-Poniatowski, 2002, no. 75, illustrated in colour in the catalogue

Vienna, Albertina Museum, Goya bis Picasso. Meisterwerke der Sammlung Jan Krugier und Marie-Anne Krugier-Poniatowski, 2005, no. 6, illustrated in colour in the catalogue

Munich, Kunsthalle der Hypo-Kulturstiftung, Das Ewige Auge - Von Rembrandt bis Picasso. Meisterwerke der Sammlung Jan Krugier und Marie-Anne Krugier-Poniatowski, 2007, no. 68, illustrated in colour in the catalogue


Charles Yriarte, 'Goya aquafortiste', Paris, in L'Art, 1877, vol.II, illustrated p. 59

Pierre Gassier & Juliet Wilson, Vie et Œuvre de Francisco de Goya, L'Œuvre complet illustré, Fribourg, 1970, no.1781, illustrated p. 340

Pierre Gassier, Les Dessins de Goya, Les Albums, Fribourg, 1973, no. H.18, illustrated p. 591

Bodo Vischer, Goyas Stilleben. Das Auge der Natur, Petersberg, 2005, no. 117, illustrated p. 121


Hinged at four corners on a modern board and also hinged in the middle. A very small tear at the lower left corner and upper right corner. Paper slightly undulating, some slight surface dirt around right and left margin maybe from a previous acid mount. Very light foxing at the top of the sheet. Paper colour is slightly grey-ish. Chalk still very strong and powerful. Sold mounted and framed in a modern, wooden and gilded frame.
"In response to your inquiry, we are pleased to provide you with a general report of the condition of the property described above. Since we are not professional conservators or restorers, we urge you to consult with a restorer or conservator of your choice who will be better able to provide a detailed, professional report. Prospective buyers should inspect each lot to satisfy themselves as to condition and must understand that any statement made by Sotheby's is merely a subjective, qualified opinion. Prospective buyers should also refer to any Important Notices regarding this sale, which are printed in the Sale Catalogue.

Catalogue Note

Like the previous lot, Loco, the present drawing represents a fiercely dramatic scene, but it also incorporates an element of moralising and accusatory commentary on the violence that was so often a part of Goya's world, making this one of the artist's most inscrutable and haunting images.  The position of the woman who is the main compositional focus gives the viewer the impression that they are witnessing the terrible moment when a beaten, violated or lifeless body is being thrown into a ditch, and although the exact spatial arrangement is not entirely clear, one has the sensation that the body is still falling.  In the dark, at the pit’s edge, the heads of three vaguely defined figures can be seen, one man possibly with his arm still raised.  In this ambiguous world of shadows and darkness, one can easily imagine that the victim was chased to her death, or thrown into this pit after having been raped.  So many images in Goya's Private Albums record extremely vividly a wide range of dreadful crimes and scenes of incredible cruelty, which he must either have witnessed or have wanted to expose and denounce.  Gassier wrote of the present sheet: ‘The enigma of the scene adds to its emotive power.  What has happened?  Foul play, vengeance, rape?  We do not know, neither does it greatly matter.  For the banality of fact, Goya has substituted the tantalizing ambiguity of his art’ (P. Gassier, op. cit., 1973, p. 637).

As is so often the case in Goya's most expressive drawings, the skilful use of intense lighting enhances the drama of the scene: the falling body, emerging from darkness, is sculpted with light, while the shadowy figures immersed in the gloom above are only just detectable, their forms hard to read with any certainty.  The chalk is worked throughout with impressive skill and dexterity, and extreme freedom.  Small, infinitely diverse chalk strokes are added with great speed, disregarding the notion of finish, yet leaving no clear idea of how the artist has built up such a dramatic, tonal image from this essentially linear technique.  The pathos of the scene is achieved and emphasiSed through these strong contrasts of lights and shadows; only the victim can be clearly seen, and her innocence is the only sure reality.  Goya has here succeeded very strikingly in capturing the essence of this crime through a vivid yet enigmatic image, immersing the viewer in his world of emotions, and in his very innermost thoughts.

This drawing, like the previous lot, originates from one of Goya’s two final albums, now generally referred to as Bordeaux Albums I and II (traditionally Albums G and H), which were drawn while Goya was in exile in France, in Bordeaux, between the autumn of 1824 and the artist’s death in 1828.  These two albums contained some of the artist's most important and extraordinary late works, not only terrifying and dramatic scenes such as the present sheet and the previous lot, but also some of Goya's most amusing, tender and moving images.  While all the drawings in the first Bordeaux Album have captions (see the previous lot), only six sheets from the second album, from which the present sheet originates, have such titles, but although the album is largely wordless, its images are no less eloquent for that.  Both albums cover very similar subjects, and indeed Juliet Wilson-Bareau has suggested that Goya may have intended to add captions to the second group of drawings at a later stage (Goya, drawings from his private albums, exhib. cat., London, Hayward Gallery, 2001, p. 159). 

An unusual aspect of the drawings originating from the second Bordeaux Album is that in many cases they are, as here, signed, in a way that complements the image.  Goya also numbered the pages of the album in the upper right corner, the highest number being 63. As in Bordeaux Album I, Goya made his drawings in black crayon, on French paper.  The main difference between the images in the two Bordeaux albums is that in the second, there are fewer complex compositions, and the figures tend to occupy more of the page.  Sometimes, the drawings in this final album recall other works that Goya made earlier in his career, and the present drawing is reminiscent of the etching ‘Caridad’ (1810-12), from the famous series the Disasters of War, in which farmers dispose of naked corpses by throwing them into a mass grave (fig. 1) (T. Harris, Goya Engravings and Lithographs, Oxford, 1964, vol. II, no. 147, pp. 217-18).

For further information on Goya's Private Albums see note to lot 25.