Was Goya an enjoyer of life? It seems that yes, that he actually enjoyed hunting, bullfighting, life and its pleasures in general as sometime takes a courtly conduct quite dissipated, is true, but neither more nor less frivolous, in principle, than usual in a public social position such as his. Therefore, if his character was also this, will have to agree that Robert Hugues is right when he says that Goya “was also a convinced epicurean, since we know that he loved all the sensory: the smell of an orange or the armpit of a girl, the aroma of tobacco and the aftertaste of wine, the pulsating rhythm of a street dance, the play of light on the taffeta, the moiré, the simple cotton; the glow to expand on a summer evening sky or the pale glow of the finely carved walnut butt of a shotgun.”
And that as such enjoyer in his Epicureanism practiced a doctrine of a typically secular and Mediterranean paganism, practical but light, that sought above all to ensure the necessary calm for a happy and pleasant life in which fears of fate, the gods or death were definitely eliminated. In the end Epicurus proposed the realization of good and happy life and the friendly relations between their co-religionists, which theoretically is a perfect balance between mind and body that provides serenity or ataraxia.
The touring comedians, 1794 (detalle) Madrid, Prado Museum
But Goya was not always like this, although certainly he states quite clearly in very specific moments of his life, as when already in his fifties sends a letter to his friend Martín Zapater between 12th and 25th December 1797, which shows effusive and graphically the gratitude of a group of friends to Martín Zapater for his invitation to drink, food and a balcony in the very distracted Plaza Mayor of Madrid, due to have been awarded in the tosses of the Real Loan.
The letter reads as follows:Powerful, very generous and splendid Lord Don Martín Zapater.
Dear Lord, and the greater veneration and respect:
Seized of appreciation and recognition to the kind generosity of your mercy and even more to the delicious delicacies, delicate wines, and super-soft liquors, that to your order have celebrated the congratulations, that luck has favoured your enviable happiness and fortune, cannot give your mercy (as is our obligation, that we acknowledge and confess) so fulfilled, and expressive thanks few were awarded by his panache, and sumptuously;
Who could think, or flow, that a seedy, a Caribbean as your mercy, would have surprised with such gallantry our encouragement, willing (as so interested) to celebrate and applaud your happiness; No one; and thus we have exalted ourselves to such an extent that joy almost has become immoderate! That toast! That repetition of bottles! That coffee plus coffee! Those bottles! That drinks to the air! There is no more say that the glass of the House has been renovated; and all these could only hear cheerful voices of hurrah Zapater, that excellent man, that good friend.
Hurrah, and more hurrahs. Release lots, and release more, faith that has true friends who celebrate it, and thank the Almighty because exercises with man so worthy his benefits;
We conclude our function with all happiness and joy, but what a new surprise rushes us at this moment! A servant who brings a Simon car and a memo from the same Lord who has given treat us has prevented the balcony over the town so we enjoy ourselves and rest of the fatigues of the celebrity, oh great day, happy day, they have been applauded so many congratulations, as many such and so many bounties; won’t lower that to receive your mercy, as will applaud him, as will held him! And as confession, that they are real friends and they don’t want anything other than the satisfaction of your mercy, his happiness and their joys, these are your more grateful and attentive friends and servers that kiss your hand.
Served of Ladies not Zambombos. Merry Christmas
Pedro de Garro (signed) Francisco de tus Glorias o de Goya (signed) Merry Christmas
Julián Baquero (signed) El último congregante de los Putos
Santa María (signed) Truly Merry Christmas to your mercy, oh generous Aragones! His fine friend!
Francisco Díaz (signed) Merry Christmas
José Zamora Merry Christmas and health, health to found this pious deed
Antonio Ferrer (signed) Merry Christmas. Last in the Seraglio of Musiu Signature and sign in testimony of the Truth (Drawing of a notarial cross)
Mrel Escorial (signed) All drunks
El Rojete (signed) Christams of Nicolasa Lazaro with her pie like a wheel (Drawing of an outline female torso with a tube in the mouth)
That rich cake of excellent eel.
Josefa Bayeu (signed)
Letter to Zapater, between 12th and 25th December 1797
Two drawings decorate the letter. One, of an outline female figure (Nicolasa Lázaro) that in the letter praises the cake of meat or eggs that had eaten. And the other is a figure on its back, on its fours on the floor and ostentatiously displaying its naked bottom. As it says the Prado Museum, owner of the letter, “It has always been seen as a figure of a woman, but is actually male, due to the muscular forms of the buttocks, straight thighs and, above all, sex can be seen well between the legs. Also the hairstyle implies, according to the fashion of the town at the end of the 18th century, with hair collected in the back as with a snood, or the outfit, with the white shirt lifted on the back and the panties down, described swiftly in the horizontal line that crosses the thighs, as well as in the large and coarse shoes. Zapater, the only viewer of the letter, must have understood the meaning of his friends joke, both if were referred, for example, the tract of Francisco de Quevedo, don’t know if well known then, Fortunes and Misfortunes of the Eye in the Ass. It was a period in which Goya had been especially interested in the Spanish writer, which Dreams inspired his Caprichos.”
Nothing predisposes better for good humour as a good wine cellar and a kitchen more or less delicate. Certainly, this described was not a diplomatic lunch in Vienna, but diners, free for tongue and pen as a result of wine, are people who look like non accustomed to niceties, though they have all very good discerning palate. And through the letter clearly breaths that it was also, as Julio Camba would say, a spree, a pilgrimage, a day of revelry and riot in which our protagonist was planned his day with friends willing to eat, drink, sing and dance to the limit of his endurance. This feast is also a tribute to the generous friend in which course there is not only art: there is a sincere and cordial emotion, that is the excitement of the Sun, the blood and the danger, and there are also beautiful women, with fresh and burning cheeks touched by classic mantle Just need yet, if something certainly missing, a good cigar and a nap, since is missing the bullfight, highly desirable for Goya but impossible in Madrid’s December.
Gonzalo de Diego