- Inventory number
- Goya y Lucientes, Francisco de
- 1801 - 1805
- 227 cm
- On display
- Palace of Godoy, Madrid; Consejo del Almirantazgo, 1807; Biblioteca Real; Secretarías de Gracia y Justicia, Guerra, Marina y Hacienda; Ministerio de Marina; Prado Museum, 1932
Two Eastern merchants go over their accounts, leaning over a table illuminated by light flooding through a window on the left of the composition. Under their plank table are two full sacks. Two women read a book in the background and in the foreground is a bird, the traditional symbol of trust and loyalty in commercial relations.
This work was commissioned by Manuel Godoy (1767-1851), prince of Peace and Prime Minister to King Carlos IV (1748-1851). It was designed to decorate the large monumental stairs at his recently restored palace. This is part of a group of four tondos with allegorical subject matter. the other three are Science (now lost), Agriculture (P02547) and Industry (P02548), which are also at the Prado Museum. The choice of these subjects has been interpreted as an effort on Godoy's part to present himself as the quintessential enlightened politician who fosters the development of the country he governs by favoring the development of science and its most important applications, according to the symbols of the economic societies of the Enlightenment.
This composition is distorted so that the pieces can be seen correctly from below when it is hung at some height. It's technique is surprising in its rapidity and its strong, rapid brushstrokes.