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Temporary Installation: Goya’s Drawings restored

Museo Nacional del Prado. Madrid 10/1/2012 - 1/20/2013

Visitors to the Museo del Prado will be able to see the result of the restoration recently undertaken on seventeen drawings by Goya that are almost never exhibited due to their delicate state of conservation. The group includes the previously unpublished and unexhibited drawing Sketch of the Royal Astronomical Observatory in Madrid, which has recently been rediscovered on the back of a drawing of Madrid entitled The Street. Most of the selection consists of the fourteen preparatory drawings that Goya executed in red chalk for his print series Los Caprichos. These were traditionally known in the Museum as the “yellow caprichos” due to the fact that in the late nineteenth century and with the probable intention of protecting them, they were given a coating of starch that yellowed over time, altering their original appearance and preventing a coherent visual reading. In addition to this procedure, one of Goya’s most celebrated drawings, I am still learning (1825-1828), which is frequently referred in the literature on the artist, has also been restored. Two zones of chalk strokes that were damaged have been reinstated in a reversible manner, returning the correct visual sense to the work.

Access

Room 38. Villanueva Building

Supported by:
Fundación Iberdrola

Multimedia

Exhibition

The Street ca.1800-1808 / Sketch of the Royal Astronomical Observatory

<em>The Street</em> ca.1800-1808 / Sketch of the Royal Astronomical Observatory
The Street
Francisco de Goya,
Red chalk beneath black chalk, 116 x 194 mm. Ca. 1800 - 1808. (Before and after restoration)

One of the most frequent problems encountered in relation to Goya’s drawings in the Museo del Prado is the presence of old mounts that damage the stability of the paper, resulting in buckling and yellowing, or which prevent a complete view of the sheet.

In this case, a backing sheet stuck to The Street (ca.1800-1808) had concealed the existence of another drawing, which was only rediscovered when the work was reassessed as part of the creation of a new website exclusively dedicated to Goya and located within the Museum’s official website.

The drawing was separated from this old backing, revealing an ink seal, creases to the paper and remains of adhesives. It also revealed a red chalk drawing of Juan de Villanueva’s recently built Royal Astronomical Observatory, located in the Retiro Park. As a result of this restoration project, the Museo del Prado has gained a new drawing by Goya.

I am still learning

Due to a conservation problem, possibly of a biological nature, that occurred in the 1960s two zones of the chalk lines in this drawing were damaged, resulting in disturbing effects of light that prevented a correct reading of the composition. In addition, old mounts that had been attached with inappropriate adhesives had created tensions in the paper that produced excessive buckling.

For all these reasons, and with the aiming of recuperating the drawing’s correct visual sense, restorers filled in these lost areas in a reversible manner, using watercolour applied with a very fine brush and with the help of a microscope. In order to do so, reference was made to a photograph of the drawing before it was damaged. In addition, old backings and adhesives on the reverse have been removed.

The Caprichos

Of the approximately fifty red chalk drawings that Goya produced in preparation for his print series the Caprichos and which are now in the Prado, it was probably in the late nineteenth century and with the aim of protecting them that fourteen of them were coated with a layer of starch. This coating yellowed over time and above all due to prolonged exposure to light. In some cases this made it difficult to distinguish the red lines of the chalk and thus prevented a clear reading of the image.

In addition, the paper had suffered from being in an excessively dry atmosphere while on the reverse of the sheets there were numerous traces of adhesive left over from successive changes of mounts and which had produced considerable buckling. This inadequate state of conservation motivated the Museum’s decision to restore the drawings. In order to remove the starch layers, restorers used moisture and capillary action so that the drawings did not have to be immersed in water. The remains of adhesives were also removed from the backs of the sheets and the paper has been re-hydrated in order to recover its lost flexibility.

Artworks

1

It is well pulled up

Francisco de Goya

Preparatory drawing for Capricho 17. Red chalk, 204 x 145 mm

h. 1797

2

All will fall

Francisco de Goya

Preparatory drawing for Capricho 19. Red chalk, 199 x 145 mm

h. 1797

3

Poor little things!

Francisco de Goya

Preparatory drawing for Capricho 22. Red chalk, 195 x 144 mm

h. 1797

4

They already have a seat

Francisco de Goya

Preparatory drawing for Capricho 26. Red chalk, 201 x 140 mm

h. 1797

5

Hush

Francisco de Goya

Preparatory drawing for Capricho 28. Red chalk, 203 x 143 mm

h. 1797

6

Is there no one to untie us?

Francisco de Goya

Preparatory drawing for Capricho 75. Red chalk, 204 x 141 mm

h. 1797

7

But if he broke the pitcher....

Francisco de Goya

Preparatory drawing for Capricho 25. Red chalk, 194 x 140 mm

h. 1797

8

Bravissimo!

Francisco de Goya

Preparatory drawing for Capricho 38. Red chalk, 200 x 141 mm

h. 1797

9

Your Honour is... well... As I say... eh! Be Careful!...otherwise!

Francisco de Goya

Preparatory drawing for Capricho 76. Red chalk, 204 x 143 mm

h. 1797

10

One to another

Francisco de Goya

Preparatory drawing for Capricho 77. Red chalk, 203 x 143 mm

h. 1797

11

Correction

Francisco de Goya

Preparatory drawing for Capricho 46. Sanguina, 206 x 149 mm

h. 1797

12

There is a lot to suck

Francisco de Goya

Preparatory drawing for Capricho 45. Red chalk, 197 x 134 mm

h. 1797

13

Homage to the teacher

Francisco de Goya

Preparatory drawing for Capricho 47. Red chalk, 203 x 150 mm

h. 1797

14

Don’t cry, idiot

Francisco de Goya

Preparatory drawing for Capricho 74. Red chalk, 201 x 140 mm

h. 1797

16

View of the Royal Astronomical Observatory in Madrid

Francisco de Goya

Red chalk, 116 x 194 mm

h. 1800 - 1808

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