Lot 27
  • 27

Francisco de Goya

400,000 - 600,000 GBP
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  • Francisco de Goya
  • 'Visiones'
  • inscribed Visiones (lower left) and So (b) a previous title erased, and now illegible 
  • brush and grey wash on paper, with scraping
  • 23.5 by 14.5cm


Javier Goya y Bayeu (1784-1854, the artist's son; by descent from the artist)
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)
Robert McDonald
Christian Chapman, Washington D.C. (acquired in June 1953)
Richard Feigen, New York
Acquired from the above by the late owner in May 1986


Cambridge, Massachusetts, Fogg Art Museum, Master Drawings lent by Philip Hofer, 1940

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


Pierre Gassier, The Drawings of Goya, The Complete Albums, London, 1973, p.164, no. D.g


Attached at the corners and possibly two places at the sides. The drawing was once mounted to cover space at the top and bottom. The areas exposed to light have slightly yellowed compared to the section previously covered by the mount. There is slight scattered foxing and possible surface dirt. The paper is slightly undulating. The overall image is strong and the pen and ink remain fresh. Sold in a modern wooden 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

This extraordinary image, with two grotesque figures floating in an empty space, locked in a close embrace almost as if dancing, and observed from behind with ironic enjoyment by another old woman, originates from Goya's Private Album D, also known as the Witches and Old Women Album.  Twenty-two sheets from this album survive, all of them in public collections except for the present drawing and one other, entitled Bajan riñendo, 'They go down quarrelling' (private collection, New York).  The typical numberings on the sheets only go as high as 23, leading Juliet Wilson-Bareau to conclude that the album was most probably left unfinished (Goya, drawings for his private albums (exhibition catalogue), Hayward Gallery, London, 2001, p. 136).  Wilson-Bareau also noted that on eight of these pages the original number written by Goya has been trimmed or, as in the present case, erased.  

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.