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During his own lifetime, Francisco José de Goya y Lucientes (1746-1828) was without rival in his native Spain. A painter, draftsman and printmaker, he served three generations of Spanish kings and was named "First Painter to the King" even after the traumatic chaos that followed Napoleon's invasion of the Iberian Peninsula. Despite these close links to established power, Goya was also a complete outsider, a keen and independent witness to the foibles and terrors of the human condition, whether high or low. Due to his unique ability to find universal and timeless meaning in specific examples of human behavior, successive generations of artists and viewers have found new resonance in Goya's legacy even while they remade him in their own image. Goya held particular importance for French painters of the 19th century, including Delacroix, Manet and Degas, and through them inspired artists of the 20th century, as is seen in Picasso's profound interest in him. This lineage of influence, as well as his seminal vision, have encouraged the popular understanding of Goya as the "first modernist," a label that, while compelling, is limiting for an artist of such mystery and strength. Goya: Another Look will re-examine Goya through some 35 important paintings complemented by a revealing group of works on paper.
Organized by the Philadelphia Museum of Art and the Musée des Beaux-Arts in Lille, France, the exhibition is an ambitious and tightly focused look at major examples from the artist's tapestry designs, religious subjects, still lives, genre subjects and portraits. The point of entry and core of the show is drawn from a group of works that appear in an inventory completed following the death of the artist's wife, Josefa, in 1812. They include Les Vieilles (Time and the Old Women) of c. 1808-12, the powerful and comic depiction of old age, as well as other enigmatic genre paintings and the only still lives he would do. Whatever their meaning, these works clearly had special significance for the artist, for he maintained them in his own studio away from public view until the time of his wife's death, when they were inherited by his son, Xavier. Alongside these depictions of daily life as painted by the artist during his own maturity, Goya: Another Look includes a selection of enchanting tapestry cartoons of children's games and other everyday scenes that he made early in his career for the Royal Tapestry Factory, some six religious paintings that document his prominence in that field, as well as a small selection of his most probing portraits. An installation of original etchings and lithographs by Goya, selected from the Museum's permanent collections, will survey Goya's accomplishments as one of the greatest graphic artists of all time.
This exhibition has been jointly organized by the Philadelphia Museum of Art and by the Réunion des Musées Nationaux, France, on behalf of the City of Lille/Palais des Beaux Arts. Additional support has been provided by an indemnity from the Federal Council on the Arts and the Humanities, and by generous gifts from The Women's Committee of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, Gisela and Dennis Alter, Helen B. Alter, Mrs. Meyer Eglin, and an anonymous donor. US Airways is the airline sponsor. NBC 10 WCAU is the media sponsor.
The Arthur Ross Foundation and the Consulate General of Spain in New York have provided additional assistance.