Blog sobre Francisco de Goya. Espacio de amistad que aglutine a todos aquellos amigos de Goya o de lo que representa Goya, a la manera de un club on line.

Real Goya

Light in shadow (from Rembrandt to Goya)

I share with Goya my double admiration by Velázquez and Rembrandt (“I haven’t had other masters than Nature, Velázquez and Rembrandt”).

Nature, as source, inspiration and guide, and as the best teacher in the infinite variety of the world of perceptions. Full of light, shadow, colour, volume, shape and space; something suitable for good look at Goya.

In regard with Velázquez, even died a hundred years before the birth of Goya, was overwhelmingly present in the Royal Collections and was easily accessible for a painter of the Court like Goya. Consequently, his magisterium is obvious and there are remarkable traces of it, from the first drawings and goyesco prints, to painting pieces such as the importance of the family of Carlos IV (1800).

On the other hand, it is considered to Rembrandt as the best engraver of all time. And so could note it who had the success of visit a superb exhibition, ‘Rembrandt, Light of Shadow’ made in collaboration with the National Library of France and the Spanish National Library, at Gaudi’s building of La Pedrera in Barcelona, under the sponsorship of then bright patron Foundation Caixa Catalonia, today disappeared.

Thanks to my good friend Silvia Pagliano -an exceptional engraver, usual contributor of this blog- I discovered to Michel Pastoureau and his book ‘Black (History of a Colour)’ of which here I valgus for venture between their lights and shadows. Colour for darkness, for death and hell, black has not been always a negative colour. Throughout its long history, has also state associated to fertility, temperance, dignity, authority. And since a few decades ago, embodies above all elegance and modernity.

The polygraph Jesuit François d’Aguilon, friend of Rubens, differentiates ‘extreme’ colours (white and black), ‘medium’ colours (red, blue, yellow) and ‘mixed’ colours (green, violet and orange) and shows how colours unite to engender others new. However, for him white and the black are complete colours; have the status of ‘extreme colours’. So, in that world of colours, the relationship with light precedence over others. By this, although black is the colour of darkness, there is a ‘luminous’ black, it means black colours that glow before darken, black that are bright before be black. Seeing Rembrandt’s blacks and his very brief illuminations, which are just a rumour of light…


248 X 359 MM

For Michel Pastoureau “the word black, from latin niger in a time given becomes extraordinarily rich and takes to its charge all the symbolic range (sad, fatal, ugly, horrible, cruel, harmful, fearsome, diabolical, etc.) of the colour. But to express nuances of intensity or quality colour (matt, glossy, dense, saturated, etc.) will be necessary to resort to comparisons: black as pitch, black as a mulberry, black as the raven, black as ink.”

In Romanticism returns the black in all its splendour, if I am allowed to say so. Is the triumph of night and death, of witches and cemeteries, of strange and fantastic. Reins the melancholy, the evil of the century (the black sun of melancholy), that at the gates of the 19th will be an obliged state, almost a virtue. In certain mode we are also at the world of symbols, the world of perceptions… And there is Goya. Obviously. From prints to the black paints. Because in the century of lights these are not only those of the spirit, wit and sharpness, but also of the common life, and in Goya black is more near to death and its colour, opposite or different than in Rembrandt. Besides there is the fear at the end of inspiration: that terrible fright that, tormented, we were described by Unamuno.

On the other hand, Isadora Rose-De Viejo says that “it is out of doubt that Goya knew well several prints of Tiepolo, Piranesi, Callot, Hogarth and Flaxman” as we have discussed in this blog throughout our four years of existence. And that while Goya in his youth artistic circles of Zaragoza had by more next teachers in his admiration to the French Simon Vouet and the Italian Corrado Giaquinto, will come a time in which the work of the Dutch will make present in an interest place of his admiration. But that will be later as by “the traditional political and religious hostility between Spain and the Netherlands”, add Isadora Rose that “Dutch painting of the 17th century has always had a presence in the Spanish historical collections,”. And it will finally be in the form of his engravings.

“El Descendimiento a la luz de la antorcha” (REMBRANDT)
Aguafuerte y punta seca
210 x 161 mm.
“El amor y la muerte” (GOYA)
Aguafuerte, aguatinta bruñida y buril
219 x 152 m.

It is why this super taste similarities, mutual admirations, bows and training elements on such notable artists. Breathing under the same dome… And is at the same time exciting to believe it, observe it, like it and admire it closely. A great luck the Art! So close, so exciting, so own, friendly and satisfactory…


Blacks of Rembrandt, the dim lighting, lights just discerned, game of life and death, seen and unseen, technique and sentiment. As so many disasters of the goyesca war, both dark caprice and as much crazy image lived or dreamed from inside… to finish being paint and black. Without leave aside, sharing it with Goya, in his admiration for light and shadow. Under a greater or lower Rembrandtianan influence that, for Michel Pastoureau, the vibrating character of colour in Rembrandt painting, next to the omnipotence of light, gives to the most of his works, including the more profane, a religious dimension. Giving a liaison, linking light and shadow, light and dark for so better perceive reality, past of time, the permanence.


“La Adoración de los pastores con una linterna”
Aguafuerte, punta seca y buril
148 x 198 mm.
Tercer estado

Look for example at the picture of ‘The Adoration of the Shepherds with a flashlight” in which, as well describes Gisèle Lambert: “…the atmosphere suggested by Rembrandt is so intensely mystical that exudes a supernatural silence, the adaptation of the eyes to the darkness, the reconstruction of shadows by the vision, the perception of the oscillations of the more or less open flame of the candle and the strange aura of rays of shadow that wrap Mary and Jesus are other many effects…”… “lighting effects, gold or pearled, with a soft and silky shadows that modulate the glare…”

Goya came to have half a dozen prints by Rembrandt and knew of different collectors and friends (Ceán, Izquierdo, Carderera, perhaps Godoy and likely the Royal Cabinet of Natural History and those of Sebastián Martínez) and “came to see up to 150, that is more than half of the artist accepted graphic production and an exceptionally high proportion for a Spanish of his time” (sic).

We could go calmly on this brilliant relationship. Or analyse also the magisterium about the engraver Goya by Piranesi and his outstanding quality, the only artist that according to Nodier until then had left influence his art with his nightly dreams. His influence will make him expand a view especially endowed, superior and feature artists far above others. The contrasts of lights and shadows, of black and white, of impressions and techniques. It will certainly be interesting to try to raise it at another time. Why not?


Gonzalo de Diego

The wall of Rothko

(Back to Cartuja of Goya)

Julián Gállego published the first book about Goya’s paintings in the Cartuja of Aula Dei in 1975. My love to the painter of Zaragoza, not of Fuendetodos, in spite of whoever gets upset, as at five was confirmed in San Gil church of Zaragoza, I owe it to Professor Gállego.

But the best medicine, the best antidote against the acute goyitis, I also owe it to him, because Julián Gállego was perhaps the person who best knew the life and the work of Velázquez.

When Goya turns heavy, the best remedy is to seek calm in Sevillian pictures.

As well and all, they have something in common, some kinship keep the major painters of the Spanish painting. Goya was the first that recorded and made prints of Velázquez pictures. Was his first 18th century fan.

But, the reader must be impatient for how much I take to get into Goya’s flour.


The Cartuja of Aula Dei is close to Zaragoza, about ten kilometers, and there became seasoned the young man Goya as a great murals painter, the largest enterprise had in his whole life. The Cartuja was abandoned in the 19th century and the rigor of its winters, the mists of the river Gallego, caused severe damage to several murals eaten by the saltpeter, which Buffet brothers repainted circa 1900 with new designs, although it is very likely to follow the master blurry lines of the goyescas scenes.

Not in vain, wrote with a great aphorism, time also paints. Rigorous winters, the French modernist painters, the successive restorers of Aula Dei, even the experts, the goyistas with smoke and the beginners, all want to paint in the Cartuja of Goya, and the geezer of Bordeaux makes a mockery of all of us; you here do not paint anything, pedantic.

I have visited the Cartuja this last summer with some friends from Oxford delighted by the magic of the place and by the paintings of Goya. It is like visiting Piero della Francesca in Arezzo or Rafael rooms in the Vatican. In Spain it is the only similar place in charm and beauty. My previous visits back to adolescence, around 1968, with fifteen years old.


At the scene of The Visitation pays powerfully our attention a wall of Burgundy wine colour.

It is the home of Zechariah, Isabel’s husband, Mary’s cousin. Zechariah has a bearing, a poise, a packaging of a prophet that emerges from the cave of a Cretan temple. Is like another painting, another scene, within the theme of the picture. A mythical parenthesis, would say, in the trace of the scene. The eye of the good painting taster is perplexed at this superb combination, the Carmine colour wall, old cherry colour, Damascus fatigued colour, wine old colour, that to a fan of Rothko can leave him stunned, looking to the Nile, and from the mysterious character, with fluvial beard, like an amnesiac Homer that has just stumble with the Minotaur or Polyphemus in the cave of his gloomy home.


Where did the young Goya take out that scene? In whom he thought, because by itself is worth the visit to the Cartuja of Peñaflor?

For me is the top of the mystery of the Cartuja of Goya. Is like the first scene naïf and terrifying at the same time of the future Black Paintings.


By the way, in the Goya’s cupola of El Pilar, I have been able to see up close the St. Lambert (28 March 2007), a Saint of Zaragoza with the head in his hand, and it is a creepy figure, despite being surrounded by Saints in Glory.


César Pérez Gracia

The Portraits of Goya

Professor Julián Gállego published in 1978 his rather than bright ‘Self-portraits of Goya’ (Savings Bank of Zaragoza, Aragon and Rioja) on the occasion of the 150th anniversary of Goya’s death.


Since the beginning the very knowledgeable Professor defined that the self-portrait is one of the largest and most attractive painting issues. Carries with it as inexcusable conditions two counter qualities: the sincerity and the artifice (sic). Along its 86 pages -aside from the great annexes-, all a wonder of erudition and grace exhibition, develops the topic with enormous brilliance of who for some is the best writer that has given Aragon throughout the 20th century. Also for me is, at least, in his field of the fine arts in general and painting in particular.

Parses the question and rightly quotes to Ortega y Gasset when he says that Goya tends to give us the figure portrayed what is at the moment it appears. And that Goya painted “appearances” and, in that sense, ghosts. And that character of appearances does not remove them reality, as it does not remove either the portraits of Velázquez. (sic).

In regard with the above, it seemed incredible that thirty years later, in the superb exhibition ‘Goya and Italy’ (Museum of Zaragoza. June-September 2008. Curated Joan Sureda) that constituted a lesson of art of high level, and in which the mentioned curator knew how to relate influences, times, artistic modes and the philosophy of the artistic knowledge, from the academic Winkerman’s theory to the delight collector Infante Don Luis de Borbón and more, Sureda forgets Professor Julián Gállego -a very serious failure- and even while the chapter or paragraph XII in the catalogue and exhibition is dedicated to “the portrait”! But was not that the only striking failure of the author, who in an exhibition in which studies youth and first formation of Goya unknown conspicuously the zaragozanian Goya, disdaining his first training -former and later in Italy-, which is a lack of consideration.


From October 2015 to January 2016 would have place at the National Gallery in London the exhibition ‘The Portraits of Goya’, very well widespread and in charge of Xavier Bray, with contributions by Manuela B. Mena, Thomas Gayford and Allison Goudie. And in whose literature opportunely quoted to Professor Gállego.


As the self-portrait does not leave to be a portrait, I come to the present of a new book that has been just published by César Pérez Gracia. “Portraits of GOYA”. CERTAIN books. Zaragoza, 2016. ISBN: 978-84-92524-85-3.


It is 120 pages of a great catalogue of the close to one hundred and fifty portraits that Goya did throughout his life, detailing almost one by one and giving reason of each one and its relationship with Goya.

This concentrate of eloquence, good observation and some Aragonese sense of humour, turns out to be useful for its erudition and because it is also filled with goyesco arguments. Because also speaks of painting, procedure and completion, which is welcomed when in most writings qualified as canonical about Goya hidden us -by ignorance- what to paint concerns. Gets to the point and describes what is seen. Does not have invented or poorly brought youth Goya stories, but he skilfully explores what could certainly be and reaches us in what certainly was. He relates very well events, mentalities, the virtues and evils of the time and displays them with clarity and good sense. Without stopping in false myths, in little acceptable respects and stripped bare the truth of who, morally compelled to be example and conscience of a society, gave up the publican humility to settle for the mediocre pride of the pharisee.

Yes. Because César Pérez Gracia faces courageously the subliminal in the painting of the young Goya in the Zaragoza of his youth. Simply review by the hand of the author as stays on the portrait of the boy Ayerbe. Uncovers the goyesco game and shows to light the secrets of his intention. Enough to look and see the painting; is not imagination nor magic cheap, an argument too broken in the pen of so many historians supposed scholars who don’t know to look…

Thus it is a welcomed book because it is not politically correct, it lacks of ties still being drafted in the sullen, coward and pretentious Zaragoza, the great taster of bait and switch, and reaches the degree of jewel in the path of the great Julián Gállego, skilfully using the intelligent resource of the lightning glosses, so estimated by the Professor.

It is one of these books that we need to read and reread to be present much more at Goya, to learn from him and taste painting and intention, the formal quality and truth of the portrayed, without prudery, without superfluous details, without distortions nor white lies that are beside the point.

I congratulate the author with enthusiasm and encourage him to continue giving testimony of an exciting way to see our most remarkable genius art.


Gonzalo de Diego

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