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The flying dog
Goya y Lucientes, Francisco de
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Goya y Lucientes, Francisco de

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

Goya y Lucientes, Francisco de See author's file

The flying dog

1824 - 1828. Pencil, Lithographic crayon on grey laid paper.
Not on display

The Flying Dog is part of Sketchbook G, the first of two sketchbooks from Goya’s final years in Bordeaux, between 1824 and 1828. It is one of numerous compositions in which Goya portrays flying animals or humans. Angels played an important role in his religious paintings, but this artist began to express his interest in witches and other airborne anthropomorphic beings in the etchings from his Caprichos series in 1799. The compositional structure of The Flying dog recalls the figures flying over vast landscapes in certain Caprichos, including Pretty Teacher, There it goes and Bon Voyage. The bird’s-eye view of the terrain imbues these compositions, including The Flying Dog, with a dreamlike and evocative character and a practically divine sense of power produced by both dreamed and real flight. Goya was familiar with dogs through his activity as a hunter, and here he presents a male Spanish bulldog much like the one he depicted in his 1787 tapestry cartoon boys with Mastiffs (Museo del Prado, P02524). The Spanish bulldog, now extinct, was a race employed primarily to herd cattle, including fighting bulls. Goya also presented them in that latter role, “taking down bulls”, in a lithograph from those same years in Bordeaux titled Dogs attacking a bull, which shows a version of bullfighting prohibited in 1880 and generally held in an open space in the country. And, in el Gayumbo, from 1793, he presented the same activity in a plaza. The Spanish bulldog was also a powerful and aggressive hunting hound, and was generally outfitted with a spiked collar to protect its neck from wolves and other varmints. Here, Goya presents it just such a collar, bearing its sharp teeth and growling, but transformed into a powerful hunting machine in a way that recalls Hieronymus Bosch’s capacity to create believable hybrids. Light underlying lines indicate that the animal’s hind legs were originally canine, but in the finished work, they have been replaced by toad’s legs, with claws and fighting cock’s spurs. His front legs are no longer canine either; they have become feline instead, and are small like those of a cat. Thus, this flying creature also recalls two perfect nocturnal hunters: the toad and the cat. His body has been further transformed by the addition of wings whose characteristic shape corresponds to those of an outstanding raptor: the peregrine falcon. Thus, the flying dog is a hybrid of animals and birds perfectly adapted to hunting in all terrains—air, land and water—both at night and during the day. The large group of people and horses in the lower part of the composition—recognizable despite their small size and abstract rendering—flee the menacing shadow over their heads, much like small animals in the country when a falcon is near. Goya effectively conveys the sense of unavoidable destiny in this presentation of an anonymous crowd and an implacable hunter whose ferocious gaze indicates that he has already chosen his prey. Here, the animal praised for its faithfulness to man becomes his executioner instead. The book tied to his back reflects the ancient custom of annotating the game obtained after a hunting sortie. Thus, the notebook’s blank pages may well await the names of those who will soon become the flying dog’s prey ( M. Mena Marqués, "El perro volante", in J. M. Matilla, M. B. Mena Marqués (dir.), Goya: Luces y Sombras, Barcelona: Fundación "la Caixa", Barcelona: Obra Social "la Caixa"-Madrid: Museo Nacional del Prado, 2012, p. 280, no. 82).


Technical data

Inventory number
Goya y Lucientes, Francisco de
The flying dog
1824 - 1828
Pencil; Lithographic crayon
Grey laid paper
Height: 191 mm; Width: 149 mm
Cuaderno de Burdeos I o Cuaderno G, 5
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. 52, n.394.

Gassier, Pierre y Wilson-Bareau, Juliet, Vie et oeuvre de Francisco de Goya: l' oeuvre complet illustré: peintures, dessins, gravures, Office du Livre, Fribourg, 1970, pp. nº 1715.

Gassier, Pierre, Dibujos de Goya. Los álbumes, 1, Noguer, Barcelona, 1973, pp. 560.

Salas, Xavier de, Goya Das Zeitalter Der Revolution 1789-1830, Prestel Verlag: Kunsthalle, Múnich ; Hamburgo, 1980, pp. nº 19.

Goya y el espíritu de la Ilustración, [El Viso], Madrid, 1988, pp. 456.

Goya and the spirit of enlightenment, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, 1989, pp. 369.

Brown, Jonathan, Goya´s last works, The Frick Collection, Nueva York, 2006.

Goya: luces y sombras. Obras maestras del Museo del Prado, The Yomiuri Shimbun, Tokyo, 2011, pp. 278-279.

Matilla Rodríguez, José Manuel, Ligereza y atrevimiento. Dibujos de Goya, Fundación Botín, Santander, 2017, pp. 125 n.73.

Matilla, J.M. Mena M.B., Goya: dibujos. Solo la voluntad me sobra, Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid, 2019, pp. 251 nº 161.

Filigree +

Motive: Corazón con un trébol y variante del escudo de Ámsterdam (mitad superior)

47 x 42 mm
26 mm.
Centro del margen izquierdo
Corazón y escudo de Ámsterdam
Varios fabricantes franceses emplearon la filigrana del escudo de Ámsterdam en su variante con una cruz de San Andrés. Entre ellos, los papeleros de la dinastía Jardiel, de la comarca del Périgord, o los Bouygar, de Burdeos, cuya filigrana tenía además un gran corazón sobre el escudo.

Churchill, William Algernon, Watermarks in paper, in Holland, England, France, etc., in the XVII and XVIII centuries and their interconnection, B. De Graaf, Nieuwkoop, 1985, pp. n. 72 [D. Jardel, año 1780].

Other inventories +

Catálogo Gassier, 1975. Núm. I 369.

Colección Dibujos Goya (Numeración Sánchez Catón). Núm. 394.

Catálogo Goya, Pierre Gassier y Juliet Wilson. Núm. 1715.

Inscriptions +

Fragmento del sello de la Dirección del Museo Nacional de Pinturas (Museo de la Trinidad).
Blue ink stamp. Front, upper area

“5” (Posiblemente, inscripción autógrafa de Goya)
Inscribed with black pencil. Front, upper right corner

“El perro volante” (Posiblemente, inscripción autógrafa de Goya)
Front, Lower right area

Front, lower corner

“172” (Numeración atribuida a Román Garreta)
Front, lower right corner

Inscribed in pen and black ink. Upper left area, Back, Secondary support

Exhibitions +

Goya. Drawings. "Only my Strength of Will Remains"
20.11.2019 - 16.02.2020

Solo la voluntad me sobra. Dibujos de Francisco de Goya
19.11.2019 - 16.02.2020

Ligereza y atrevimiento. Dibujos de Goya
22.06.2017 - 30.09.2017

Goya. Light and Shade
16.03.2012 - 24.06.2012

Goya: luces y sombras. Obras maestras del Museo del Prado / Goya: Lights and Shadows. Masterpieces of the Museo del Prado
22.10.2011 - 29.01.2012

Goya. Light and Shade
22.10.2011 - 29.01.2012

El Toro Mariposa
31.10.2007 - 03.02.2008

Aún aprendo: Goya's Last Works
Nueva York NY
10.02.2006 - 14.05.2006

Update date: 07-07-2022 | Registry created on 28-04-2015

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