Goya’s Colossus Was Painted by His Apprentice: Experts

ent-goya.jpgMADRID ~ The Colossus, one the best-known paintings attributed to Francisco Goya, is in fact the work of an apprentice of the Spanish master, experts at Madrid’s Prado Museum have revealed.

The painting depicts an angry giant towering over a valley of fleeing people and animals in what is believed to be allegory of Spain’s resistance to the French troops of Napoleon Bonaparte during the 1808-1814 Peninsular War.

The canvas had been thought to be the work of Goya, who lived from 1746 to 1828.

But Goya experts from the Prado, where the painting is kept, said they have concluded it was done by his apprentice, Asensio Julia.

They first had doubts about The Colossus when they launched a study of Goya’s works while preparing an exhibition in 1991, and further studies have revealed inconsistencies with Goya’s style.

“Goya put finishing touches on all his characters, and even on animals, but in The Colossus, the hooves of the horses, bulls and donkeys are not finished,” said Manuela Mena, who is in charge of Goya works at the Prado.

“Goya never hesitated. When he painted, he knew what he was doing. But an X-ray of the painting shows several drawings underneath with the giant facing out, which are different from the final image,” which shows him with his back turned, she told a news conference.

She also noted the light and perspective was at variance with Goya’s style.

Jose Luis Diez, who is charge of 19th century paintings at the Prado, concluded the painting was the work of Asensio Julia, Goya’s student and friend.

What had been believed to be an inventory number at the bottom left corner was blown up and compared with Julia’s signature, and he concluded it was in fact the letters AJ.

Mena said the Prado planned to continue its study, and compare the canvas with other works of Julia.

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