Jun
21
2021

The world-exclusive exhibition Goya: Drawings from the Prado
Museum features more than 160 works on paper by Francisco
Goya (1746 – 1828), celebrating the artist’s extraordinary
draughtsmanship and imagination. Considered to be one of the
first truly modern artists, Goya produced humorous and critical
images of Spanish society that comment on gender relationships,
social inequality and violence, as well as visions of fantastic
creatures.
Goya: Drawings from the Prado Museum is the first major
presentation of Goya’s work at the NGV in more than 20 years
and features 44 drawings on loan from the Prado Museum, the
largest group of Goya’s drawings ever seen in Australia.
Ranging from bold ink drawings to delicate red chalk sketches,
the drawings on display have been selected by the Prado
especially for this NGV presentation. Highlights include examples
from the artist’s earliest albums of social satires, preparatory
drawings for his iconic print series, through to pages from the late
albums, which contain some of Goya’s most complex and surreal
images. This rich and diverse selection of drawings showcases
the breadth of Goya’s drawing practice, as well as offering a rare
insight into the artist’s image-making process.

Following a near-fatal illness in 1792, which left him profoundly deaf, Goya turned to drawing to record his
private thoughts, visions and dreams, and continued this practice until the end of his life. In eight private
albums, as well as in single sheet drawings, he gave expression to a vision of humanity that had no
equivalent in the art of his day. Highlight works include This is how useful men usually end up 1814-23, a
moving commentary on the consequences of poverty and war, and Literate animal 1824-28, a satirical
image of an educated animal, which Goya drew in the last years of his life.
The works drawn from the Prado collection will be complemented by more than 120 etchings from Goya’s
renowned print series: the Caprichos 1797-98, which satirised vices and follies in Spanish society; The
Disasters of War 1810–15, based on the atrocities of the war and famine that followed the Napoleonic
invasion of Spain in 1808; Tauromaquia 1815-16 on the subject of bullfighting; and the enigmatic
Disparates c. 1815–19, made during the reign of Ferdinand VII, whose suppression of civil liberties affected
the lives of many intellectuals and reformers, including Goya and his friends. The prints are drawn from the
NGV Collection with fifteen works on loan from the Art Gallery of South Australia. Goya’s most famous
etching, The sleep of reason produces monsters, a striking composition of the sleeping artist haunted by
monstrous apparitions, is also featured in the exhibition.
The exhibition is structured chronologically and thematically around recurring themes in Goya’s art, many of
which are as relevant today as they were in Goya’s time: the relationship between men and women; the
condemnation of ignorance and religious zeal; the exploration of violence and its consequences; and the
device of the nightmare or dream to critique social and political realities.
Tony Ellwood AM, Director of the National Gallery of Victoria, said: ‘All aspects of society came under
Goya’s critical eye – from education and marriage, to social justice and power relationships. Audiences to
this exhibition will be astonished by the contemporary relevance of this exhibition and the universal themes
that underpin the works of this celebrated Spanish artist.’