|About the Book|
PREFACEWITH the exception of two short monographs by Mr. William Rothenstein and Mr. Albert F. Calvert, together with a translation of a slight critical essay by Dr. Richard Miither, no biography of Francisco Goya has yet appeared in English. TheMorePREFACEWITH the exception of two short monographs by Mr. William Rothenstein and Mr. Albert F. Calvert, together with a translation of a slight critical essay by Dr. Richard Miither, no biography of Francisco Goya has yet appeared in English. The time seems ripe for a volume which attempts to show this fine genius in relation to the art of his own country, as well as to that of the other schools of painting in Europe. England has been comparatively late in its appreciation of Goya, but across the Channel a steady stream of critical exegesis has flowed from the day when Theophile Gautier returned to Paris after his voyage of discovery beyond the Pyrenees. The first biography of Goya, by Laurent Matheron, was published in France, and appropriately dedicated to Eugene Delacroix. Nine years later came a more ambitious performance by Charles Yriarte. In the meanwhile the index of the Gazette des Beaux-Arts will reveal what an impression Goyas paintings and etchings had been creating in the French studios. Biirger-Thore, Feuillet de Conches, F. Lagrange, Jacques Desrosiers, Paul Lefort, Charles Blanc, Philippe Burty, and a dozen other well-known critics of the Second Empire, continually quoted and alluded to Goya in their articles. Since then thepublished correspondence of poets, like Baudelaire, and of artists, like Manet, proves that Goya was a formative influence of the first importance upon the French art of the nineteenth century.The biographies of Matheron and Yriarte have become the foundation of what may be called the French tradition regarding the personality of Goya. Both authors accepted the romantic anecdotes of his youth, and the scandalous legends of his behaviour at the Court of Charles IV. His attitude towards Church and State they considered a logical result of his admiration of the political principles which governed the French Revolution. These biographical conclusions were fiercely controverted by Francisco Zapater, who published in 1868 a tiny booklet containing extracts from the correspondence between Goya and his father, Martin Zapater of Zaragoza. He could not have made use of the whole correspondence, which, if it has not been destroyed, may probably be a treasure for some future author. Writing for a Catholic journal (his pages were first issued hi La Perseverencia) he sketched the portrait of a hard-working youth, who certainly did not desert the God of his ancestors, had no desire to play skittles with the Ten Commandments, and was not only a good son, a truth which cannot be disputed, but a faithful husband—a statement open to considerable doubt.Zapaters motive was praiseworthy, but he was an amateur historian who twisted his facts to suit his prejudices. The deeper we push our researches into Goyas career the less able are we to agree with his thesis. Laurent Matheron appears to have visited Madrid, and much of his material is vouched for by first-hand evidence.He knew De Brugada, Goyas companion during the last years in Bordeaux, and cites him more than once as the source of his information. He was writing within thirty years of Goyas death, and his chapters were compiled with care and good taste. About the same time Valentin Carderera (who had written an article upon Goya in El Artista of Madrid as early as 1835) was collaborating with Philippe Burty in the Gazette des Beaux-Arts, and his contributions in no way contradict Matherons views. Charles Yriartes Spanish quest in 1866-67 was exhaustive, and he was fortunate in gathering the final reminiscences of a bygone generation. He visited the Duke de Mont-pensier at San Telmo, and the Duke de Osuna at Alameda. The Duke de Alba opened the Palace of the Liria to him, and he was cordially assisted by Frederico de Madrazo, Zarco del Valle, Francisco Zapater, and Valentin Carderera. Many of the Goya family papers were placed at his disposal.