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Goya, Picasso and France (and II)

It is known that Goya went on May 5th 1820 to the Royal Academy of San Fernando, in Madrid, to swear the Spanish Constitution of 1812. And four years later he departed for France at the age of 78, and according to Moratín, in quite a bad state: “deaf, old, awkward and weak” and also not speaking a word of French. Only a threat to life itself, or the unavoidable need to follow your loved ones, could be enough reasons to uproot his country at such an advanced age.



Plano de rutas de posta de Francia, año 1824. Trayecto seguido por Goya desde la frontera de España hasta París.
Map of France post house routes, year 1824. Route followed by Goya from the border of Spain to Paris.

Thus, the justification for the trip, take the sulphurous waters of Plombières, seems credible and in principle adequate to one older man and broken health, despite with notoriously significant political and religious attitude and mentality. Which does not preclude, however, Francisco de Goya was also the subject of police surveillance in France and there are, in this sense, reports on his behaviour and movements. Indeed is nothing but an exile man who frequents companies considered dangerous in some way, as especially in the cases of his friends Silvela and Moratín. And so is recorded in the departmental records.


Expediente policial sobre Goya.
Police file on Goya.

The police record is preserved (“File Don Francisco GOYA” Police of the Kingdom). Goya is the only Spanish resident in France, civil servant in activity, a Court painter, subjected to surveillance by the French police. The French Minister of Internal Affairs transmits instructions to the prefect of police of Bayonne in which says that “this foreigner who has entered France through Bayonne goes to Paris and should visit the spas of the Vosges”. And he adds that “it would be interesting to check if during his stay in Paris, D. Francisco de Goya has suspicious relations that his employment at the Court would still be more inconvenient. In this regard he will be monitored carefully, but unnoticed, and communicate me the results, preventing me from the moment of his departure.”


Goya en el lecho de muerte. Litografía de Fernando de la Torre.
Goya in her deathbed. Lithograph of Fernando de la Torre.

No more. In essence, Goya will lead a relatively quiet life, in the neighbourhood of his friends and without expressing publicly any political concerns. He will never, at any time, show intention to change of nationality. On the contrary, it remains until his death in Bordeaux faithful to his ideas and his condition of Aragonese and Spanish.

And with regard to Picasso, as we said previously, there is a second report on it, unfavourably to the effects of his French nationalization, dated by the Directorate of General Reports and Game, fourth section, criminal brigade on May 25th 1940. It began stating that Picasso and his wife Olga do not live under the same roof. That he arrived in France in 1900 to study painting, who lives at the address already indicated above and paid 700,000 francs of taxes in 1939.

Also says, among other things, that Picasso is known of its services of having been designated as anarchist (word underlined in the report) in 1905. At that time lived in 103 Boulevard de Clichy, home of a compatriot, Pere Mañach, equally anarchist and guarded by the police prefecture. Indeed, it seems that Mañach was not exactly anarchist, but it had apparently been affected dramatically by mistakes and defeats of their own country (Spain) along the colonial expeditions and in particular in Cuba. But the interpretation that emanates from this section of the report had further consequences, to be marked his name in the “red list” of the prefecture of police that, naturally, will make Picasso someone to watch and which should be wary.

The report continues by pointing out that despite having 30 years old (was 32), he had not rendered any service to France during the war (underlined). He is accused also of have kept his extremists ideas, evolving towards communism (also underlined). And the report adds that during the Spanish Civil War, each month sent large sums of money to the rulers, who had appointed him curator of the Spanish national museums in recognition.

On the third page of the report it says that “on last May 7th, Picasso had been subject of a report stating that he was in a cafe located in the 172 Boulevard Saint-Germain, (Café de Flore), and that had been taken apart by a Polish officer non uniformed, when he openly criticized our institutions and was making apology of the Soviets”. The report continues adding that “Picasso had said many people that their collections would be bequeathed to the Soviet Government (underlined in the report), what shows, even further, that this foreigner has a unique way of thanking the country that has allowed him to achieve an extraordinary situation, which had never happened in Spain”. And that “it seems” that had a deplorable conduct in Paris and who announced openly Communist ideas, and who had pasted on the walls of his father’s flat engravings representing the sickle and the hammer (underlined in the report).

The report concludes by saying that from the set of information collected “this foreigner has no title (merit) to obtain naturalization” (underlined) and should be considered “suspect from the national point of view” (underlined).

Signed “P of P”, has no signature and on it is evident that the political point of view is crucial. It is, in fact, a report by political police that is pronounced, somehow, based on the past and the present politician of Picasso. Finally, it is interesting to point out that the Communist Party was banned from September 26th 1939, then of the Soviet-German pact, and that the prefecture of police, since the end of 1939, released a policy of anti-communist repression, and Picasso is regarded more as a notorious communist as a travelling companion, which somewhat says more about the mood of the French authorities in 1940, than the one of Picasso, who was already a world celeb, highly quoted and recognized. So France lost the possibility of counting among his countrymen with one of the biggest, if not the best painter.

This way is rejected the claim of Picasso and his, don’t know if embarrassed or hurt in love himself, thereafter practice the most hermetic silence on this matter and, certainly, will show much more fervent of their status as Spanish.

He died on April 8th 1973 in Mougins and is buried in the Château of Vauvenargues on April 10th.

With his death leaves 1,880 paintings, 1,335 sculptures, 7,089 drawings, 200 notebooks (containing 5,000 sketches), 880 ceramics and around 20,000 engravings.

Gonzalo de Diego

Places where Goya lived. Zaragoza I

In my opinion there is a very interesting question when we get closer to the work of an artist so known as Goya: the reconstruction of historic environments in which had emerged the works of his hand, today exposed in the major international museums. But bringing this issue to the birthplace of the painter, we can perhaps understand better his composition of place or the way of facing life and future events; his learning and the first external contributions that will influence him, more or less, onwards. And this issue is also interesting as a component of tourism in the birthplace of this kind of universal artists.


It will be worth it in the case which concerns us here, no doubt to Zaragoza or Madrid also, or the same Bordeaux. The reason why in this blog, dedicated to Goya, intends to, as an essential aim, transmit and make understandable to society the figure of Goya, as well as the influence of his work and personality in the Spain of the late Eighteenth and early Nineteenth century. As well as the significance and influence outside Spain and finally in the whole world.

If today, in June 2013, the word “Goya” in Google is mentioned approximately in forty and five million inserts on the Internet, this means that the interest in Goya in the world is certainly very high. And thus it will always be much better know the origin of the artist, his native land, customs and way of life.


That courage! Etching, aquatint, drypoint and Burin burnisher. 158 x 209 mm.

And to begin with, our interest to show the general and artistic atmosphere of a city like Zaragoza, where Goya was born and lived until his departure to Madrid for the first time at age 17 and later alternating with Zaragoza between 1766-69, to emigrate permanently to Madrid “called by Mengs” as himself said, at the age of 29; i.e., how it was the city and its environment and above all how it looked like when the young painter came and went through the streets, monuments and institutions of his time. What still remains of that in a city, Zaragoza, which suffered so in the Spanish Independence War and, more particularly, in the terrible siege by the army of Napoleon Bonaparte in 1808 and 1809. City that would eventually be tragically destroyed by the neglect of their leaders and the devastating effects of a rampant and ignorant, ‘developmentalism’ that respected neither the reality of the historical heritage, nor give opposition with energy to disastrous property speculation in the second half of the 20th century.



In the school of Escuelas Pías, Francisco de Goya received his first teaching, sharing studies, games and amusement with what would be his best friend, Martín Zapater. The original structure of the building are preserved today an inner courtyard, a part of the cloister, the church and its façade, as well as the part of the facade of the school that follows the original line and is the attached to the entrance of the church.  This was built in brick with socket stone under the protection of the Archbishop Castro Agüero, in 1736. The interior is baroque and composite order. In shape of a cross and a single nave, the altarpiece is giltwood, mid-18th century, and is dedicated to Saint Thomas Aquinas, as a tribute to the figure of this Doctor of Church, patron of all universities and Catholic schools throughout the world.

Sn. José de C.

In the spirit of “Glory and Honor to Calasanz” in addition to that correct altarpiece, is clearly remarkable another lateral altarpiece dedicated to Saint Joseph Calasanz, with painting of the second half of the 18th, possibly by Ramon Bayeu, according to what says Professor Abbad Rios, and not collected by Morales Marín in his catalog, nor so does Anson. In another altar there is also a canvas dedicated to Saint Roque, Luzán’s former Aragonese school, who would be the first teacher of Goya.

Beyond his paternal home and the closest streets, in a small town as the Zaragoza of that time, certainly this was a first and interesting impression Goya lived on a daily basis in his childhood at the Piarist College and which is, among others, a-must-visit for the tourist who wants to follow the first ‘Zaragozanian’ experiences of Francisco de Goya.

Gonzalo de Diego

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