Francisco de Goya
- Francisco de Goya
- inscribed Visiones (lower left) and So (b) a previous title erased, and now illegible
- brush and grey wash on paper, with scraping
- 236 by 144mm., 9 1/4 by 5 3/4in.
Mariano Goya y Goicoechea (son of the above; by descent after 1854)
Federico de Madrazo (acquired circa 1855-60
Paul Lebas, Paris
Sale: Hôtel Drouot, Paris, 3 April 1877, lot 25
E. Féral, Paris
Philip Hofer, Cambridge, Massachusetts
Durlacher Brothers, New York (sold: 27 February 1946)
Christian Chapman, Washington D.C. (acquired in June 1953)
Richard Feigen, New York
Acquired from the above by the late owner in May 1986
Hartford, The Wadsworth Atheneum, 1942
New York, Jan Krugier Gallery, Victor Hugo and The Romantic Vision, Drawings and Watercolors, 1990, no.54, illustrated in the catalogue
Geneva, Galerie Jan Krugier, Victor Hugo and The Romantic Vision, Drawings and Watercolors, 1991, no.54, 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. 53, 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. 74, 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. 79, illustrated in colour in the catalogue
Paris, Musée Jacquemart-André, La passion du dessin. Collection Jan et Marie-Anne Krugier-Poniatowski, 2002, no. 73, illustrated in colour in the catalogue
Vienna, Albertina Museum, Goya bis Picasso. Meisterwerke der Sammlung Jan Krugier und Marie-Anne Krugier-Poniatowski, 2005, no. 4, 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. 64, illustrated in colour in the catalogue
Album D opens with a series of images of old witches, generally floating and flying with wild abandon. Such an ensemble of drawings linked by a common theme is very typical of Goya's Private Albums: see also two other drawings by the artist in the collection, 'Loco' (lot 25) and 'A hunter and his dog on the alert' (lot 113). As in the case of the present sheet, these distinctive, visionary images of witches generally show one or more figures without any indication of a setting. Here, the old woman wearing a scarf embraces, with a sarcastic look in her eyes, a melancholic and subdued man, while at the same time trying to put her hand in his pocket to rob him. The third figure, also floating in the air, witnesses the scene, grinning. This figure was added by Goya in place of other studies that he carefully scraped away and removed, thereby emphasising and focusing the attention on the central couple, whose images are defined by subtle use of dark wash strongly contrasting with the white of the paper, a technique that Goya knew full well how to use to the best advantage. Pentimenti of this kind, though often so well disguised under layers of wash and strong brushstrokes that they are difficult to detect, reveal a fascinating aspect of Goya’s ability to rework his compositions, and allow us to follow his developing thought process, as his composition evolved into its final form.
There has been much debate about the dating of these drawings from album D. As Wilson-Bareau noted, the paper that Goya used for these drawings (a Netherlandish paper that may have come from a supplier in Andalusia), was the same as he used for the Madrid Album (Album B), which is dated to 1796-97, and the Album D drawings were therefore long believed to have been made soon after this time. Another argument used to support this dating was the subject matter of the drawings, since a number of the later prints in the series of Los Caprichos (1797-98) also show witches, many of them in flight. Pierre Gassier was inclined to date Album D around 1800. Eleanor Sayre, however, placed the drawings significantly later, circa 1816-17, while Juliet Wilson-Bareau, in her important 2001 exhibition on the drawings from the Private Albums (the first ever devoted to these celebrated drawings), proposed that they were made even later than that, around 1819-23, citing close comparisons with Goya’s Black paintings, which the artist executed around 1820, while at the Quinta del Sordo, his country property outside Madrid.
Gassier included Visiones in his catalogue of Goya's drawings as a lost sheet, and was also unaware of its earliest provenance. When, however, the drawing was studied in the 1980s in the conservation laboratory at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, flecks of pink paper from a previous mounting were observed on the verso, identical in colour and texture to the former backing sheet of one of the museum's drawings by Goya, La Madre Celestina, from the same album (see exhib. cat., London, Hayward Gallery, 2001, p. 196, no. 92). These traces of pink were the remains of a distinctive pink paper onto which a number of drawings by Goya were once laid down, and it has since been established that this backing indicates that the drawing in question was one of those that came into the possession of Fernando Madrazo. Linking these two discoveries, it is therefore now possible to add an important stage to the previously known provenance of the drawing. Another drawing by Goya in the Krugier-Poniatowski Collection, 'A hunter and his dog on the alert' (lot 113) is still pasted down onto its pink Madrazo backing sheet.
Describing the innovative message and the evolution of Goya’s style in these drawings of Album D, Juliet Wilson-Bareau wrote: ’The strokes that compose these drawings convey movement, meaning and emotion rather than delineate form in the conventional ways.’ These expressionistic and visionary drawings are indeed among the most innovative and imaginative images that Goya’s created in all of his Private Albums.
For further information on Goya's Private Albums see note to lot 25.