Francisco de Goya y Lucientes Drawing

Francisco Jose de Goya y Lucientes DrawingChristie’s will auction a drawing made by Francisco de Goya y Lucientes at its Old Master & Early British Drawings & Watercolours sale on July 5.

 

Image: Francisco Jose de Goya y Lucientes, Hutiles trabajos (Useful work). 10? x 7? in. Estimate: £2,000,000 – £3,000,000 ($3,244,000 – $4,866,000). Photo: Christie’s Images Ltd 2011.

 

This enchanting drawing was numbered by Goya himself as sheet 37 of an unbound series of pages, commonly called Album E or the Black Border Album owing to the single- or double-ink border that makes its sheets immediately recognizable.

 

In 1796, at the age of fifty, Goya began filling pages of albums with drawings of people observed in various attitudes and occupied in various ways, singly or in groups. He was to maintain this practice until the end of his life, some thirty years later. In all he created eight albums of varying number of pages and size which originally contained some 550 drawings.

 

The drawings are not preparatory studies for pictures or prints, although some images from Album A and B, drawn in the mid 1790s, were the starting point for prints in his famous Caprichos published in 1799. Drawing as a preliminary to painting was of no interest to Goya. He drew directly onto the canvas with his brush. Eleanor Sayre – the first scholar to describe and define the characteristics of the eight albums, labelling them with the letters A to H – stated that the albums are ‘not notebooks containing a casual assembly of portrait heads, drapery studies and composition sketches. Neither were they any longer sketchbooks preserving the intermittent record of places he saw and picturesque figures which might be used again.

 

They had been transmuted by him into journals – drawn not written – whose pictorial entries of varying length pertained predominantly to what Goya thought rather than what he saw’ (‘An Old Man Writing. A Study of Goya’s Albums’, Boston Museum Bulletin, LVI, 1958, p. 120). The drawings in the albums show Goya’s ‘intuitive grasp of the human condition [that] was based on observation but not limited by it or by convention or by canons of taste and tradition… Human passions, human desires, human fears are his unique concern expressed through a vast range of subjects, from mundane aspects of everyday reality to the most profoundly spiritual themes’ (J. Wilson-Bareau, Goya: Drawings from his Private Albums, exhib. cat., London, Hayward Gallery, 2001, p. 23; this was the first exhibition solely dedicated to this fascinating aspect of Goya’s work).

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