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Didn’t you know what you were carrying on your back?
Goya y Lucientes, Francisco de
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Goya y Lucientes, Francisco de

Fuendetodos, Zaragoza (Spain), 1746 - Bordeaux (France), 1828

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Didn’t you know what you were carrying on your back?

1812 - 1814. Wash, Brush, Bistre, Grey-brown ink, Black chalk lines on laid paper

The last part of Album C -drawings 119 through 131- consists of a group of images that present clergy of both sexes with a degree of irony emphasized by the titles that Goya wrote on each page. Criticism of certain aspects of the clergy’s behavior is a constant in his work, and it can be followed from the time of the Caprichos. In this album it becomes especially relevant, as the secularized clergy presented here were widespread during the war years. The Napoleonic decrees of Chamartin (December 1808) announced the abolishment of religious orders, a measure considered necessary to reduce the excessive number of clergy in Spain. In 1809, pensions were offered to all friars and nuns willing to voluntarily abandon religious life. This measure was not only taken by the Bonapartist government. The need for a disentailment and reduction of the number of convents was also addressed by the Cadiz parliament in 1811, with particular attention to the Mendicant Orders and the elimination of convents with insufficient income. The burden posed to Spanish society by the disproportionate number of religious institutions was one of the matters under debate since the reign of Charles III. There had been various attempts to reform the situation, but it was not until Medizábal became minister (1836) that they had any measure of success.

The subject unquestionably worried Goya, who used his drawings to place it in the critical and reform-oriented contexts of both Joseph I’s reign and the government of the Cadiz constitutionalists. Didn’t You Know What You Were Carrying on Your Back? Highlights the burden that religious orders -especially the Mendicant Orders- constituted for the working class. In this drawing, a chubby Dominican -a Mendicant order of preachers that was also responsible for the Inquisition’s tribunal- perches on the back of a hoeing peasant and enjoys his repast. In Capricho 42, You who cannot, Goya already satirized the weight that common people were obliged to bear. But here, the image is less amusing than in that print, and it transmits a bitterness through the contrast between the stooping peasant’s efforts and the friar’s placidity -all in a nocturnal setting that brings greater drama to the scene. An unmistakable symbol of obscurantism, that darkness is also the setting for How Many Yards?, a drawing of a monk whose white robes lead Manuela Mena to identify him as a Carthusian. His supposed asceticism contrasts with “the exaggerated magnificence of the cloth used, which symbolizes the wealth and waste of those who were supposed to be exemplify austerity itself” (Francisco de Goya 1746-1828. Prophet der Moderne, 2005, no. 109). The powerful presence of this friar covered almost entirely in cloth recalls the ghosts that were so present in Goya’s work from the 1790s through his final years in Bordeaux. Those specters used their clothing specifically to hide what they were not, and to generate fear and respect. And in the present drawing, as indicated by its title, the central element is precisely the amount of cloth needed to make the enormous robes borne by a monk whose face we do not even need to see, because, as the Spanish popular saying has it: “the habit makes the monk.” This Leaves him Thinking is an example of the final group of drawings in which Goya shows monks and nuns removing their habits after their secularization, whether voluntary or not. In all of these drawings, Goya presents each of these formerly religious figures in a state of defenselessness caused by the contrast between their robes and their sudden nudity, and he also uses their postures and blushing faces to emphasize the bewilderment their new situation has caused them. The young nun whose bosom is carefully suggested by Goya, hangs her head as she abandons the habit that lies on the ground and seems to elongate her shadow. Another drawing, at the Hispanic Society of America (C 128) shows a nun in a similar situation, but its delicate and caring presentation contracts with the satire of those whose secularization was chosen (Matilla, J. M.: "Álbum C 120, No sabias lo q.e llebabas a questas? Álbum C 125, ¿Cuántas baras? Álbum C 131, Esta lo deja pensativa", in Goya en tiempos de guerra, Madrid: Museo del Prado, 2008, pp. 398, 400).

Goya’s Album C exemplifies the complexity of his work. Made during the Peninsular War and the posterior repression under the reign of Ferdinand VII, it addresses subjects linked to many facets of that period. Other authors believe this album extends through the years of the Liberal Triennium (1820-23), as they see a relation between some of its drawings and the joy associated with the restoration of the Constitution of Cadiz in 1820. Still, those compositions can just as well be viewed in the same context as similar compositions from Goya’s Disasters of War. The subjects in Album C range from aspects of daily life, including numerous beggars, to dream visions of the world of night. One especially large group consists of drawings with victims of the Inquisition or of cruelty in prisons, and this recently led Juliet Wilson-Bareau to call it the Inquisition Album, although as we already stated, this is not the only subject addressed therein. In fact, another notable group of images criticizes the habits of monastic orders and the life of friars defrocked by the French authorities’ disentailment decrees.

Of Goya’s albums, this is the one with the most works, as well as the only one to have survived almost intact. It was never taken apart, and was not subjected to consecutive sales. Hence, it was almost complete when it arrived at the Museo del Prado from the Museo de la Trinidad. Of 126 known drawings, 120 are at the Museo del Prado. One is at the Biblioteca Nacional de Madrid (C 56), one at the British Museum in London (C 88), and two at the Hispanic Society of America in New York (C 71 and C 128). Finally, two others are in a private collection in that city (C 11 and C 78) (Text drawn from Matilla, J. M.: "Álbum C 91, Muchos an acabado asi. Álbum C 101, No se puede mirar", en Goya en tiempos de guerra, Museo del Prado, 2008, p. 393).

Multimedia

Technical data

Inventory number
D004100
Author
Goya y Lucientes, Francisco de
Title
Didn’t you know what you were carrying on your back?
Date
1812 - 1814
Technique
Wash; Brush; Bistre; Grey-brown ink; Black chalk lines
Support
Laid paper
Dimension
Height: 199 mm.; Width: 142 mm.
Series
Álbum C, 120
Provenance
Javier Goya, Madrid, 1828; Mariano Goya, Madrid, 1854; Federico de Madrazo y/o Román Garreta, Madrid, c. 1855-1860; Museo de la Trinidad, Madrid, 5-4-1866; Museo del Prado, 1872.

Bibliography +

Sánchez Cantón, Francisco Javier, Sala de los dibujos de Goya, II, Museo del Prado, Madrid, 1928, pp. n. 361.

Sánchez Cantón, Francisco Javier, Los dibujos de Goya. Reproducidos a su tamaño y en su color, II, Museo del Prado, Madrid, 1954, pp. n. 311.

Gassier, Pierre, Vie et oeuvre de Francisco de Goya: l' oeuvre complet illustré: peintures, dessins, gravures, Office du Livre, Fribourg, 1970, pp. 287, n. 1355.

Gassier, Pierre, Dibujos de Goya. Los álbumes, I, Noguer, Barcelona, 1973, pp. 381, n. 264, il. p. 342.

Salas, Xavier de, Goya Das Zeitalter Der Revolution 1789-1830, Prestel Verlag: Kunsthalle, Múnich ; Hamburgo, 1980, pp. 114-115.

Pita Andrade, J. M., Álvarez Lopera, J. et al., Goya y la constitución de 1812, Ayuntamiento, Delegación de Cultura, Madrid, 1982, pp. n. 73.

Lemoine-Isabeau, C., Cartographie Belge dans les Collections Espagnoles XVI-XVIII siècles, Credit Communal, Bruselas, 1985, pp. 220.

Goya y el espíritu de la Ilustración, [El Viso], Madrid, 1988, pp. 350-352.

Goya and the spirit of enlightenment, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, 1989, pp. 248-250.

Goya: en tiempos de guerra, Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid, 2008, pp. 398.

Other inventories +

Colección Dibujos Goya (Numeración Sánchez Catón). Núm. 361.

Catálogo Goya, Pierre Gassier y Juliet Wilson. Núm. 1355.

Exhibitions +

Temporary Installation: Constitutional ideas in Goya's work
Madrid
10.05.2012 - 17.09.2012

Goya in Times of War
Madrid
15.04.2008 - 13.07.2008

Update date: 05-06-2019 | Registry created on 28-04-2015

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