Goya’s View on the Spanish Golden Age: Prints from the Meadows Collection
Displayed in this exhibition are five exceptional prints by the artist Francisco de Goya (1746-1828). Regarded as one of Spain’s greatest painters, Goya also is one of the most innovative print makers in the history of art. In 1776 a large number of paintings by Golden Age artist Diego Velázquez (1599-1660), kept in the Royal Palace in Madrid, were made available to students of the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Madrid. This was a unique opportunity for the young artists because, at the time, almost all of Velazquez’s oeuvre was housed in royal palaces and therefore inaccessible to the general public. Goya began studying the paintings of Velázquez by copying his works in drawings, paintings, and prints. Goya’s first serious attempt at printmaking took place when he was in Madrid in 1777. During the spring of that year he fell seriously ill and temporarily abandoned a large tapestry cartoon project in order to recover. During his recuperation, Goya began his etchings after the Velázquez paintings. The success of these prints not only established Goya as a talented printmaker, but also enabled the widespread circulation of images by the still fairly unknown Velázquez. Four of the rare works on display in the exhibit are from this formative period, while the fifth print is his famous self-portrait from Los Caprichos showing the fully realized skill of the master painter-printmaker.