A Malefic Prophet
Bordeaux Album (H), page 26
Numbered at upper right, 26.
Gift of Gertrude Weyhe Dennis in honor of Felice Stampfle on the occasion of the 75th anniversary of the Morgan Library and the 50th anniversary of the Association of Fellows, 1999
GOYA CRITIQUES THE CLERGY
Goya's final two albums, G and H, were produced during his self-imposed exile to France. Depicting subjects that he witnessed on the streets of Paris and Bordeaux, these drawings are executed in black crayon rather than black wash, as in the previous six albums. In this notably wordless image, a figure cloaked in vaguely clerical garb sits on a rock, absorbed in his writing. His ominous presence, accentuated by the shadowy background, implies a satire on the Church. In a reversal of Christian tradition by which the word of God was communicated through writing, here the malefic figure appears to be transmitting diabolical knowledge.
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.