SMU’s Meadows Museum kicks off 50th anniversary with major survey of Goya prints

Francisco de Goya, 'The Sleep of Reason Produces Monsters,'  Los Caprichos, SMU Meadows Museum. Photo by Michael Bodycomb
Francisco de Goya y Lucientes (Spanish, 1746-1828). Los Caprichos. The Sleep of Reason Produces Monsters. Plate No. 43, 1797-98. Etching and burnished aquatint on paper. Meadows Museum, SMU, Dallas. Algur H. Meadows Collection, MM.67.06.43. Photo by Michael Bodycomb.

SMU’s Meadows Museum launches its 50th anniversary year with a major exhibition of all its holdings of printed works by Francisco José de Goya y Lucientes (1746-1828): all 222 etchings, four lithographs, and three trial proofs.

On view through Sunday, March 1, 2015, Goya: A Lifetime of Graphic Invention provides visitors with a rare opportunity to view complete first-edition sets of Goya’s four great print series – Los Caprichos (The Caprices, 1799), Los Desastres de la Guerra (The Disasters of War, 1810-19), La Tauromaquia (Bullfighting, 1816), and Los Disparates (The Follies, 1815-23) – as well as the Museum’s holdings of Goya’s paintings, which will be displayed alongside the prints.

Curated by Meadows/Kress/Prado Fellow Alexandra Letvin, the exhibition, which opened Sept. 21, also features the Museum’s recent gift of a trial proof from Los Disparates, Disparate Puntual (Punctual Folly), and closely follows the Meadows’ acquisition of Portrait of Mariano Goya (1827), one of the artist’s final paintings, in 2013.

The Meadows houses one of the largest public collections of Goya’s works in the United States, and the exhibition will enable visitors to experience for the first time the Museum’s extensive Goya holdings at once.

“Goya’s mastery in prints marked a turning point in the evolution of graphic art and had a profound influence on the work of later artists, such as Manet and Picasso,” says Mark Roglán, the Linda P. and William A. Custard Director of the Meadows Museum and Centennial Chair in the Meadows School of the Arts. “As the Meadows Museum’s collection is one of the largest depositories of Goya’s works – including the recent acquisition of a late portrait of his grandson, which was a gift in honor of our anniversary – it seems appropriate to kick off the celebration with an exhibition of his genius.”

Goya, widely regarded as one of the most important artists in Western history, represents both the culmination of the Old Master tradition and the beginning of modernity. A witness to decades of political upheaval and social unrest, he began experimenting with printmaking in the late 1770s. The most ambitious endeavor of his early career was a group of 11 etchings (1599-1660) after paintings by Diego Velázquez housed in the Spanish Royal Collection, three of which will be featured in the exhibition alongside other examples of Goya’s early prints, including a rare trial proof for an unpublished etching.

Shortly thereafter, following an illness that left him permanently deaf, Goya produced 28 drawings titled Sueños (Dreams), which formed the initial core and inspiration for the artist’s first large-scale print series, Los Caprichos. These 80 aquatint etchings engage a variety of themes – including the complex relationship between men and women, ignorance, superstitious beliefs, and witchcraft – and offer a view of human weakness and irrationality that is both deeply personal and imbued with critical social commentary.

“Over the course of his career, Goya produced almost 300 etchings and lithographs that reveal his personal vision, tireless invention, and enthusiasm for technical experimentation,” said Roglán. “This exhibition presents his printed oeuvre as an integral – indeed, defining – component of his life and career, and invites visitors to experience the Museum’s paintings by Goya in the context of his lifelong engagement with printmaking.”

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Meadows Museum opens exclusive show of ‘Royal Splendor’

King Charles IV of Spain, as painted by Francisco de GoyaSMU’s Meadows Museum is preparing to unveil the world’s first major exhibition to showcase the art collection of King Charles IV of Spain. The museum will be the exclusive venue outside of Spain for the exhibition, which allows visitors to explore the refined and varied interests of one of the most important collectors both of his time and in the history of the Spanish monarchy.

Royal Splendor in the Enlightenment: Charles IV of Spain, Patron and Collector runs March 7-July 18, 2010, and features more than 80 works, most of which have never before traveled to the United States. The collection includes some of the finest examples of art styles of the day, from Rococo paintings to a Neoclassical dessert centerpiece of semi-precious stones, lapis lazuli, gilded bronze and enamel.

Other highlights include the ceremonial throne of Charles’ wife, Queen María Luisa, as well as an elaborate sedan chair (below left) in which she was carried by footmen. Also included are works by Francisco de Goya, the first court painter under Charles IV.

Sedan chair of Queen Maria Luisa of ParmaThe exhibition has been organized by the Meadows Museum and Patrimonio Nacional, and funded by a gift from The Meadows Foundation. Additional support has been provided by the Embassy of Spain, Washington, D.C. and the Consulate of Spain, Houston.

Two corollary exhibits, both funded by The Meadows Foundation, will showcase highlights from SMU’s own holdings. Goya and López: Court Painters for Charles IV features paintings, prints and drawings from the Meadows Museum’s permanent collection by two of Charles IV’s court painters – Francisco de Goya and Vicente López y Portaña. López was known for his mastery of drawing and for his portraiture, and the exhibit includes examples of both. The Goya pieces run the gamut of his artistic work, from an etching of Queen Margarita of Austria to a sobering glimpse of conditions for the mentally ill in Yard With Madmen. The exhibition is organized by the Meadows Museum.

Contours of Empire: The World of Charles IV captures the momentous events of Charles IV’s life (1748-1819) and reign (1788-1808). The exhibition features rare books, broadsides, pamphlets, maps, prints, newspapers and periodicals from SMU’s DeGolyer Library that illustrate a dynamic period in history – drawing not only from Spain but from her colonies, her allies and her enemies. The exhibition is organized by the Meadows Museum in collaboration with DeGolyer Library.

Top right: Francisco de Goya, Carlos IV, 1789, oil on canvas. Madrid, Royal Academy of History.

Top left: Sedan chair of Queen María Luisa of Parma, 1795, wood, gilded metal, bronze, velvet and silver. Madrid, Royal Palace, National Heritage.

Learn more from the Meadows Museum website