Circle of Francisco Jose de Goya y Lucientes (Fuendetodos  1746-1828 Bordeaux) La Boda

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Lot 69W
Circle of Francisco Jose de Goya y Lucientes
(Fuendetodos 1746-1828 Bordeaux)
La Boda

Sold for £ 50,000 (US$ 61,005) inc. premium
Circle of Francisco Jose de Goya y Lucientes (Fuendetodos 1746-1828 Bordeaux)
La Boda
oil on canvas
90 x 119cm (35 7/16 x 46 7/8in).


  • The present composition is related to the tapestry cartoon for La Boda, now in The Prado, Madrid (oil on canvas, 170 x 398 cm., see fig. 1). This was part of a series of designs for tapestries that King Carlos IV of Spain commissioned from Goya in January 1789 to hang in his study at El Escorial. On 20 April 1790 the king specified that these should portray 'amusing country-scenes.' This was to be Goya's last series of tapestry designs. The first tapestry from the designs was woven in 1794.

    Goya's published correspondence includes a letter of 3 June 1791 from Goya to his brother-in-law, Francisco Bayeu, where the painter stated that he had 'almost finished the prototype for the largest picture for the king's study' (that being La Boda). It has been suggested that the prototype referred to must therefore be a modello for the painting of La Boda that is now hanging in the Prado. It has been argued that because this prototype was described as 'almost finished' it must have referred to a painting fit to show the king which had entailed far more preparation than a rapidly executed sketch of much smaller dimensions. Furthermore, amongst the published documents relating to Goya is a receipt of 26 June 1792 from the stretcher-maker Alessandro Citttadini for payment of the stretched canvases for this series and the sixth entry on this receipt describes 'two stretchers four feet high and three feet wide, with primed canvases.' According to Cittadini's native Italian measurements, 4 feet by 3 feet (at the normal 11.73 inches to the Roman foot) would have equated to 119 x 90 cm. and the emergence of the present canvas in 1981, coupled with the absence of any other similarly-sized candidates, raised the question of whether the receipt might account for the materials used for the present work.

    Given the inevitable polemic which arises when a previously unknown work is proposed as an autograph work by a major master it has been held prudent for this catalogue entry to present the evidence and to catalogue this painting as 'Circle of Francisco José de Goya.' The case that the present painting should be regarded as an autograph work by Francisco Goya has been forcefully argued in separate articles by three leading Goya scholars. The painting was first published as a work by Goya by Professor José Gudiol in January 1982 in his lengthy article discussing the relationship between the cartoon of La Boda in the Prado and the present painting (it was unknown to him when he wrote his four volume catalogue of Goya's paintings in 1971). Gudiol wrote: 'After simultaneously analysing both the "cartoon" of "La Boda" and the recently discovered hitherto unknown version, we can confirm with absolute certainty that Goya painted both pictures without any collaboration whatsoever.' In the same year, Eric Young, a Goya biographer and the author of monographs on Bermejo and Murillo, wrote: 'its quality leaves little possible doubt of its being an autograph work of the master'.

    The case that this is the modello for the Royal Cartoon of La Boda was further taken up by Professor Diego Angulo, then Director of the Prado Museum. He arranged for this to be discussed in an article which he fully endorsed and which was to be published in Archivo Español de Arte, of which he was editor, although his death resulted in its subsequent publication in the Boletin Del Museo e Instituto 'Camon Aznar' at Goya's home town of Saragossa in 1987.

    While Professor Gudiol argued that the cartoon preceded the present version, Young believed the latter to have been the original version through his analysis of a number of meaningful differences. Apart from a number of pentimenti which were revealed by the UCL X-Ray, the major differences comprise: in the present version there are nine rather than eight stones to the left of the key-stone of the bridge whose underside also shows a different layout of the stonework; the bridge was painted in its entirety before the two conversing figures under the bridge were added; the wall on the right hand side of the present version is higher than the wall on the cartoon and has an additional protruding corner-stone; there is a larger expanse of sky in this version than in the cartoon; in the present version the coat of the father of the bride has twenty stripes whereas in the cartoon there are only fifteen; similarly the coat of the groom in the present version has ten stripes as opposed to eight similar stripes in the cartoon, where the artist appears to have been aiming for greater simplicity; finally, the kite which originally existed in this version was suppressed as has been revealed by an X-Ray. Professor Nina Mallory has suggested that this might have been because the kite-string would have created considerable difficulties for the tapestry weavers to incorporate. The kite's removal would also have enabled the artist to reduce the proportion of the sky to the bridal procession, and thus make the figures more prominent, as is the case in the Prado cartoon.

    Young concluded that: 'all the differences ... are consistent with the theory that the recently-discovered version must have been the sketch or model shown to the king, who no doubt ordered that the details should be changed as seen now in the Prado cartoon ...' It is suggested that the mores of the Spanish Court at the time would have disapproved of the caricatural element in the earlier version of this unequal marriage between a beautiful young girl, perhaps pregnant, and the old man she was marrying for his money under pressure from her family. There is further evidence for such a view in the different expressions to be found on the faces of some of the principal protagonists.

    Although Juliet Wilson-Bareau does not concur with this opinion, an attribution to Goya has further been widely accepted by a number of very distinguished scholars: Professors Michael Jaffe, Federico Zeri, Justus Müller-Hofstede, Seymour Slive, P.J. van Thiel, Sir Denis Mahon, James Byam-Shaw and Xavier Desparmet Fitz-Gerald are all on written record as finding the attribution to Goya convincing. Furthermore, Dr. Jose Manuel Arnaiz of the Istituto Tecnico de Expertizacion Y Reastauracion of Madrid and author of the authoritative publication Francisco de Goya Cartones y Tapices has written 'en la boda de cuyo autor estoy mas convencido cada vez.'

    The painting was sent for technical analysis to both the UCL Painting Analysis Department of the University of London (Dr. Libby Sheldon), 1999, and to the Universidad Alfonso X el Sabio, Madrid (Dr. Enrique Parra), 2000. Dr. Sheldon's conclusion was that 'All materials, structure and methods accord with those of a work painted in the last part of the 18th Century.' Dr. Parra's report ('A Chemical and Radiographic Analysis of the Painting Materials and Techniques of the Modello for La Boda') concludes: 'All this evidence confirms that this painting is an original and cannot be a copy of the cartoon for La Boda at the Prado. Nothing has emerged which can convincingly be cited against its attribution to Goya.'

    The painting originally belonged to J. Dobbs Berger, a resident of Jersey. His eclectic collection included paintings, such as by Jan Brueghel, a 1531 edition of Chaucer, important early musical instruments, rare manuscripts and a set of eight 14th century silver and enamel panels which were acquired by the British Museum at his sale.
Circle of Francisco Jose de Goya y Lucientes (Fuendetodos  1746-1828 Bordeaux) La Boda
Circle of Francisco Jose de Goya y Lucientes (Fuendetodos  1746-1828 Bordeaux) La Boda
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