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Young woman sweeping
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

Young woman sweeping

1794 - 1795. Wash, Indian ink on laid paper.
Not on display

The Museo del Prado has four drawings (e/f [D04184, D04183], g/h [D04342, D04342/1], i/j [D04185, D04186], m/n [D07360, D07360/1)] with scenes on both sides from what is known as Goya’s Album A or Sanlúcar de Barrameda Album, as it was rapidly assumed to have been made by Goya in that city in the province of Cadiz during his stay there between spring 1796 and March 1786. The work presented here has drawings on both the front and back, as do all eight of the known pages from this group. Their relatively small format (172 x 101 mm) limited Goya to one or at most two quite small figures. An exquisite Album, with excellent paper and gilded edges, it bears some of the first images of scenes he would later use in his Caprichos, but he soon required more room to develop his ideas, and thus began his Album B around the same time. The latter, also known as the Madrid Album, is traditionally considered posterior to Album A. Its larger pages—they measure 236 x 147 mm—allow the artist to develop images with a power similar to those in his prints, both in the number of figures and in their expressive command and abstraction. These are also present in the two images presented here, which closely resemble the freer drawings from the Madrid Album in their technique, despite their smaller size and less detailed rendering. The scene on the front presents a young woman with abundant black tresses coiffed in a manner fashionable during the first half of the 1790s. She is also smartly dressed, with ribbons and embroidery on the lower part of her dress. A fringed stole tied around her waist draws attention to her graceful, vibrant body and her delicate high-heeled shoes. However, while her clothing and hairdo recall the so-called “fledgling ladies” who represented that period’s French-influenced modernity, they contrast with the fact that she is sweeping. The broom handle leads the viewer’s eye to the horn of a bull’s head—actually a bucranium—hanging on the wall behind her, and to the cage alongside it, which holds a single bird. The scene has traditionally been interpreted as the inside of a tavern, as the bucranium is easily associated with the stuffed bull’s heads that decorate such locales. This, and the two rustic Andalusian-style chairs are consistent with this drawing’s origin, which, like the others in this Album, has been associated with Goya’s stay in Cadiz between 1796 and 1797. Still, while this scene is surprising in its naturalistic touch, it is not a direct depiction of reality. Instead, its elaborate composition and small pentimenti indicate that Goya was seeking a specific meaning, close to other compositions by him. In the drawing, the two un-gilded chairs could just as well be pieces of English furniture—probably of walnut, as their color and fine, elaborate crafting and design suggest. This is particularly clear in the careful finishing and curves of their legs and the carved knobs on the back. Interestingly, they are not identical: the one on the right is more straightforward and solid, with a straight upper crosspiece, while the one on the left is more graceful and narrower, with light, curved legs and an equally curved upper crosspiece. Thus, Goya seems to be suggestsing that one is the man’s chair and the other, the young woman’s. In that same sense, the stark bucranium whose lines overlap the others, indicating it was painted last, hints at the presence of a lascivious and domineering older man. The collision of its horn with the broom handle, and the caged songbird convey the young woman’s situation and lack of freedom: comfortably installed, she wants for nothing, is well dressed and coiffed, but Goya’s presentation of her with a broom in hand, smoothly carrying out domestic chores such as sweeping, as well as the expressive position of her legs, her bowed head and melancholy expression, suggest other more intimate activities she must carry out in exchange for her wellbeing, and this is further insinuated by the vague shadow of a bed in the background. As in most of the surviving drawings from this Album, a woman is also the protagonist of the image on the back. It has been described as a woman combing her hair alongside a bed where another young woman rests and looks up at her. However, the protagonist’s twisted torso resembles the traditional posture associated with desperation, as does the position of her hands, joined at the side of her head to hide her sorrow from the young woman on the bed. These could suggest a different interpretation than that of two young women resting and grooming. The idea that the young woman is twisting her hands in supplication at her friend’s illness is supported by the latter’s ailing expression, with closed eyes and brow knitted in suffering.

Museo Nacional del Prado, No solo Goya : adquisiciones para el Gabinete de Dibujos y Estampas, Madrid, Museo Nacional del Prado, 2011, p.116-121


Technical data

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Inventory number
Goya y Lucientes, Francisco de
Young woman sweeping
1794 - 1795
Wash; Indian ink
Laid paper
Height: 172 mm; Width: 101 mm
Cuaderno de Sanlúcar o Cuaderno A, n
Javier Goya, Madrid, 1828; Mariano Goya, Madrid, 1854; Valentín Carderera y/o Federico de Madrazo, c.1855-1860; Jules Boilly, venta Hôtel Drouot, París, 19-20 de marzo de 1869; Larceau, París; Hyades, Burdeos; A. Strölin, París; colección particular, Suiza; colección particular, París; venta Old Master Drawings Sotheby's, Nueva York, 24.01.2007, lote 76; Museo del Prado, 2007.

Bibliography +

Sayre, Eleanor A., Eight books of drawings by Goya, The Burlington Magazine, 106, 1964, pp. 19-22.

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. 171-172, n. 368 y 369.

Gassier, Pierre, Dibujos de Goya. Los álbumes, 1, Noguer, Barcelona, 1973, pp. 43-44, Am [13] il. p. 33, y An [14] il. p. 34.

Waldmann, Susann, Goya and the Duchess of Alba, Prestel, Múnich, 1998, pp. 40.

Blas, Javier; Matilla, José Manuel; Medrano, José Miguel, El Libro de los Caprichos: dos siglos de interpretaciones 1799-1999. Catálogo de los dibujos, pruebas de estado, láminas de cobre y estampas de la primera edición, Museo Nacional de Prado, Madrid, 1999, pp. 143.

Wilson-Bareau, Juliet, Goya Drawings From His Private Albums, Hayward Gallery, Londres, 2001, pp. 37.

Mena Marqués, Manuela B., La duquesa de Alba ''musa de Goya'' el mito y la historia, Museo Nacional del Prado, 2006, pp. 127 y ss.

Old master drawings (24-I-2007), Sotheby's New York, 2007, pp. Lote 76.

Museo Nacional del Prado, Memoria de actividades 2009, Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid, 2009, pp. 16-18.

Goya: luces y sombras. Obras maestras del Museo del Prado, The Yomiuri Shimbun, Tokyo, 2011, pp. 96-97.

Museo Nacional del Prado, No solo Goya : adquisiciones para el Gabinete de Dibujos y Estampas, Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid, 2011, pp. 116-121.

Matilla Rodríguez, José Manuel, Ligereza y atrevimiento. Dibujos de Goya, Fundación Botín, Santander, 2017, pp. 33 n. 2B, 158 n. 2B.

Matilla Rodríguez, José Manuel, Ligereza y atrevimiento. Dibujos de Goya, Fundación Botín, Santander, 2017, pp. 32 n.2A; 158 n. 2A.

Matilla, J.M. Mena M.B., Goya: dibujos. Solo la voluntad me sobra, Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid, 2019, pp. 89 nº24.

Matilla, J.M. Mena M.B., Goya: dibujos. Solo la voluntad me sobra, Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid, 2019, pp. 88 nº23.

Filigree +

Motive: Letra "B" o "D"


Other inventories +

Catálogo Goya, Pierre Gassier y Juliet Wilson. Núm. 368.

Inv. Nuevas Adquisiciones (iniciado en 1856). Núm. 2765.

Exhibitions +

Goya´s Graphic Imagination
Nueva York NY
08.02.2021 - 02.05.2021

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: luces y sombras. Obras maestras del Museo del Prado
15.03.2012 - 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

No solo Goya. Adquisiciones para el Gabinete de dibujos y estampas del Museo del Prado 1997-2010
05.05.2011 - 28.08.2011

Update date: 07-07-2022 | Registry created on 04-11-2016

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