Letter to Don Martín Zapater y Clavería, signed and dated 1 August 1786
The Dannie and Hettie Heineman Collection; Gift of the Heineman Foundation, 1977
GOYA CLIMBS THE RANKS
This is one of 132 surviving letters that Goya wrote between 1775 and 1801 to his lifelong friend Martín Zapater. Their correspondence contains both personal details and key facts about Goya's work. Writing in haste, Goya shares an amusing anecdote about falling from a gig and then moves on to more exciting news: in June 1786, he was appointed painter to the Spanish king Charles III, the most prestigious position for an artist in Spain. The title, as emphasized in his letter, came with a steady income and the charge to produce designs for the royal tapestry factory. "I have now established an enviable way of living," he writes, "and if anyone wants anything from me they must come to me."
From the sixteenth to nineteenth centuries, Spain witnessed the rise of the Catholic Church along with the flourishing of court artists who explored deeply spiritual visions. Concurrently, the nightmare of the Inquisition drove artists to probe the darker side of human nature through scenes of martyrdom and torture. Drawing played a central role in their conception of these diverse subjects—from Murillo's preparatory studies for painting commissions to Goya's private albums satirizing contemporary society. In addition to this rich tradition in Spain, Spanish artists also worked abroad, notably in Naples, which was a Spanish territory.
Visions and Nightmares marks the first exhibition of Spanish drawings at the Morgan, whose holdings in this area are small but significant. Showcasing over twenty sheets by Spanish artists spanning four centuries, this selection traces the shifting roles and attitudes toward the art of drawing in Spain.
This online exhibition was created in conjunction with the exhibition Visions and Nightmares: Four Centuries of Spanish Drawings, on view January 17 through May 11, 2014 and organized by Edward Payne, Moore Curatorial Fellow.
This exhibition is made possible by the A. Woodner Fund.