Francisco Goya (Spanish, 1746–1828) is one of those singular artists who need no introduction. His evocative works, such as The Third of May 1808, The Nude Maja, Charles IV of Spain and His Family, and Saturn Devouring His Son, as well as the Caprichos and The Disasters of War print series, are some of the most recognizable and revered in the history of Western art.
The Met’s new exhibition, Goya’s Graphic Imagination, centers on the artist’s prolific activity as a draftsman and printmaker. Over the course of his career, he produced some 900 drawings and 300 prints.
Across three galleries, the exhibition presents around 100 works, most of which come from The Met collection—considered one of the most outstanding collections of Goya’s drawings and prints outside Spain—along with others from New York, Boston, and Madrid’s Museo Nacional del Prado and the Biblioteca Nacional. The show spans six decades and reflects the transformation and turmoil of the Enlightenment, the Inquisition, and Spain’s years of constitutional government.
Among the works on view are his early etchings after Diego Velázquez (Spanish, 1599–1660), who, like Goya, had also served as first court painter to the king of Spain in his day; plates from the Caprichos, The Disasters of War, and The Bulls of Bordeaux series; his late lithographs; and albums of drawings that reveal the artist’s nightmares, dreams, and visions.
Describing Goya’s Graphic Imagination, Max Hollein, the Marina Kellen French Director of The Met, explains, “This exhibition is an opportunity to further understand the critical role of drawings and prints as an outlet for the artist’s fertile imagination, allowing him to explore subjects that preoccupied him throughout his long life. As a social critic and witness to great turbulence, Goya created art that captured the many aspects of what it means to be human amid challenging times. In today’s complex and uncertain world, Goya’s work resonates powerfully.”
Complementing the Museum’s exhibition is a new publication, Goya’s Graphic Imagination. This richly illustrated catalogue features two essays, as well as a detailed chronology, that illuminate the remarkable breadth and power of Goya’s drawings and prints, situating the artist within his historical moment of the late 18th and early 19th centuries.
Goya’s Graphic Imagination is on view at The Met Fifth Avenue through May 2, 2021. Learn more about the exhibition and related programs on the Museum’s website.
For information on Goya’s artworks in The Met collection, see Goya in The Metropolitan Museum of Art, available online or as a downloadable PDF at MetPublications.