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Auction PR Publicity Announcements News and Information

Rediscovered Goya Drawings to be Offered at Christie’s

LONDON – Christie’s will offer 3 rediscovered drawings by Francisco José de Goya y Lucientes (1746-1828) at the auction of Old Master and 19th Century Drawings on 8 July 2008 in London. Last recorded at a landmark auction of works by the artist in Paris in 1877, the drawings have been missing and presumed lost ever since, and represent the most important grouping of sketches by the artist to be consigned to auction in over 30 years. The three drawings, which will be offered individually, are expected to realise a total in excess of £2 million.

Benjamin Peronnet, Director and International Head of Old Master and 19th Century Drawings, Christie’s: “These three drawings by Goya were last recorded in the landmark auction ‘105 dessins par Francisco Goya’ in Paris in 1877, and have been lost ever since. Each one is from one of the artist’s celebrated private albums, and they illustrate to perfection the inexhaustible fertility of Goya’s imagination, and the creativity and flair that see him recognised as arguably the first modern artist. We are very pleased to be able to exhibit these exceptional drawings to the public for the first time in over 130 years leading up to the auction in July, when we expect to attract the interest of international collectors and institutions who have rarely had an opportunity in recent years to acquire works by Goya of such importance.”

On 2 April 1877, a landmark auction in Paris offered a series of 105 drawings taken from Goya’s celebrated private albums. Goya had started assembling personal notebooks or journals in 1796 and gradually filled the pages with imaginative drawings of people in various moods and situations, as both individuals and in groups. The drawings to be offered at Christie’s are taken from two of the artist’s albums, and present three differing styles and subjects. They are offered from a Swiss private collection. The owners recently contacted Christie’s specialists who confirmed that the drawings were missing works from the hand of the great Spanish artist. The drawings are still on the mounts that were made specifically for the 1877 auction, and one can still see the pinholes at the top of each mount from the tacks used to hang them unframed on the walls of the Hôtel Drouot. Owing to the fact that they have never been framed nor exposed to light, the three drawings are in exceptional condition.

Bajar riñendo (Down they come) was originally in Album D, also called Witches and Women, which was used circa 1819-1823 and contained very few sheets; besides the one to be offered at Christie’s only 21 drawings are known to exist today and all but one of these are in public institutions. The drawing shows four women fighting as they fly through the air. One has a broad smile and pulls the hair of another, who screams in pain. The drawing is expected to realise £800,000-£1,200,000.

The constable Lampiños stitched inside a dead horse was originally from Album F, also called Images of Spain, which was used circa 1812-1820. The drawing has an extensive inscription at the bottom in which Goya outlines the story behind the image: in Saragossa in the middle of the 18th century, the peasants revolted against a local official called Lampi?os who had been persecuting students and women in the city. The people sought revenge and stitched him inside a dead horse, where, according to the inscription, he survived a whole night. A subsequent drawing by the artist, now in the Metropolitan Museum, New York, shows the eventual death of Lampiños who was injected with lime by syringe. The present drawing depicts Lampiños stitched inside the horse, with a great arch in the background and barking dogs surrounding the anguished prisoner. It is expected to realise £600,000-£800,000.

The third drawing, Repentance, also comes from Album F. A seated man is praying in front of a cross, his eyes raised and his mouth open in an expression which prefigures Edvard Munch’s Scream. The fluent manipulation of the wash and the minute brush strokes delineating the features are marvellously preserved (estimate: £700,000-£900,000).