Inventory number
Goya y Lucientes, Francisco de
Duel with Cudgels
1820 - 1823
Mixed technique
Wall (transferred to canvas)
125 cm x 261 cm
Gener and Society
On display
Quinta del Sordo, Madrid. Mariano Goya, 1823. Javier Goya, 1833. Mariano Goya, 1854. Segundo Colmenares, 1859. Louis Rodolphe Coumont, 1863. Baron Frédéric Emile d´Erlanger, 1873. Acquisiton for the Prado Museum, 1881/1889

The mural paintings that decorated the house known as “la Quinta del Sordo,” where Goya lived have come to be known as the Black Paintings, because he used so many dark pigments and blacks in them, and also because of their somber subject matter. The private and intimate character of that house allowed the artist to express himself with great liberty. He painted directly on the walls in what must have been mixed technique, as chemical analysis reveals the use of oils in these works.

The Baron Émile d'Erlanger acquired “la Quinta” in 1873 and had the paintings transferred to canvas. The works suffered enormously in the process, losing a large amount of paint. Finally, the Baron donated these paintings to the State, and they were sent to the Prado Museum, where they have been on view since 1889.

Recent x-rays of this work, as well as its comparison with photographs taken in the mid-nineteenth century, reveal substantial changes in this scene, which took place after it was removed from the wall. The two youths were not originally sunk into the ground up to their knees but, as Yriarte described them in 1867, stood on a grassy meadow.

Duels in which the opponents clubbed each other to death were allowed in Aragon and Catalonia, and when Brugada titled this work, Two Out-of-towners, he may have been implying that their clothing indicated they were not from Madrid. Yriarte described them as Cowherds from Galicia, but none of these descriptions would seem to justify the brutal and useless violence with which they attack each other.

Despite the multiple explanations offered by art historians, these works continue to be mysterious and enigmatic, yet they present many of the esthetic problems and moral considerations appearing in Goya's works.

The mural paintings from “la Quinta del Sordo” (the Black Paintings), have been determinant in the modern-day consideration of this painter from Aragon. The German Expressionists and the Surrealist movement, as well as representative of other contemporary artistic movements, including literature and even cinema, have seen the origins of modern art in this series of compositions by an aged Goya, isolated in his own world and creating with absolute liberty.

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