Through to an agreement with the Fundación Selgas-Fagalde in Asturias The Museo del Prado will be exhibiting Goya’s first documented painting for a period of six years

 <em>The victorious Hannibal, </em> Francisco de Goya

The victorious Hannibal, Francisco de Goya

    The victorious Hannibal, which belongs to the Fundación Selgas-Fagalde, will be on deposit with the Prado for six years, as established in the agreement signed by the two institutions today. As a result, the Museum will be able to compensate, at least temporarily, for one of the gaps in its own collection of the artist’s works, which is the most important in the world. The painting will be on display in Room 35 from tomorrow, together with various related sketches in the artist’s Italian Notebook

    Tuesday 27 September 2011

    The display of The victorious Hannibal at the Museo del Prado will offer visitors an exceptional opportunity to see one of the most important and impressive works from Goya’s early career. Painted in the spring of 1771, it falls within a period not previously represented in the Prado’s rich and remarkable collection of the artist’s works. Through an agreement reached between the Museum and the Fundación Selgas-Fagalde to promote and disseminate their respective collections and the artistic heritage that these institutions house, Goya’s work will be shown at the Prado alongside his Italian Notebook, a sketchbook that he acquired during his time in Italy (1769-71). Among numerous other drawings and annotations, it contains sketches for the composition of The victorious Hannibal and its principal figures, namely Hannibal and the bull’s head of the allegorical figure of the River Po, which the Carthaginian general crossed.

    The victorious Hannibal is a work of clearly outstanding technical merit, evident in its harmonious composition, skilled treatment of light, and the deft, firm brushstrokes that model the figures through colour and light.

    The painting was first presented as an undoubtedly autograph work by Goya in 1994, a year after it had been identified at the Prado and as part of one of the exhibitions organised to celebrate the Museum’s 175th anniversary. It now returns to the Prado for display in one of the Goya galleries for six years through the present agreement. In return, the Prado will carry out the technical study and restoration of five works in the Fundación Selgas-Fagalde collection and organise two exhibitions to be held at the Fundación in Cudillero (Asturias).

    The victorious Hannibal seeing Italy from the Alps for the first Time

    The identification in 1993 by Jesús Urrea of Goya’s first documented work, The victorious Hannibal seeing Italy from the Alps for the first Time in the Fundación Selgas-Fagalde, marked an important step forward in our knowledge of the artist.

    Francisco de Goya painted this canvas at the end of his two-year period in Italy in order to enter it in the competition organised by the Fine Arts Academy in Parma in 1771. This prestigious institution enjoyed the patronage of Duke Filippo di Borbone, nephew of Charles III of Spain. The painting, which was lost for many years following its presentation at the competition and possible return to Spain, was purchased in Madrid in the mid-nineteenth century by the archaeologist, historian and businessman Fortunato Selgas (1839-1921), who considered it to be Italian.

    The twenty-five year-old Goya must have hoped that winning the prize at Parma, a city linked to Spain through family ties with the Bourbons, would bring him fame and position on his return to Court. The preparation and efforts that he devoted to this competition indicate his concern to obtain the academic success that had been denied to him in Spain on two occasions. As many as five pages in the Italian Notebook as well as two preparatory oil sketches (Zaragoza, Museo de Bellas Artes, and New York, private collection) offer clear evidence of the young and impetuous Goya’s determination as he followed the Academy’s guidelines for the composition, adhering to the specified format and subject: the triumphal arrival of Hannibal (a hero of Spanish origins) into Italy following his arduous crossing of the Alps. Nonetheless, the gold medal was awarded to the Italian painter Paolo Borroni, a pupil of Bossi. Goya’s work only received six votes and an honourable mention, although his name did appear in the prestigious literary journal Le Mercure de France.

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