Royal Palace of Madrid lends throne room Goya paintings to "outstanding" National Gallery exhibition

By Culture24 Reporter Published: 16 September 2015

Formidable women from 18th century Spain to face each other in Francisco de Goya show at National Gallery

A photo of Francisco de Goya' Charles IV in Hunting Dress, from 1799, showing a man holding a stick on a hill next to a job
Francisco de Goya, Charles IV in Hunting Dress (1799). Oil on canvas. Colecciones Reales, Patrimonio Nacional, Palacio Real de Madrid© Patrimonio Nacional
A pair of rarely-lent paintings, created in 1799 and held at the Patrimonio Nacional, will leave Spain for only the second time to join the National Gallery’s landmark Goya: The Portraits exhibition this winter, curators have announced.

The last-minute additions of the gilt wooden-framed Charles IV in Hunting Dress and María Luisa wearing a Mantilla offers a chance to see two works which are a key part of Spain’s artistic history. They will be hung in the same room as the Duchess of Alba, made two years earlier, positioning two formidable women from more than 200 years ago opposite one another.

A photo of Francisco de Goya's Charles IV in Hunting Dress, from 1799, showing a woman in a black dress on a hill
Francisco de Goya, María Luisa wearing a Mantilla (1799). Oil on canvas. Colecciones Reales, Patrimonio Nacional, Palacio Real de Madrid© Patrimonio Nacional
“They hang in the apartments that lead to the throne room where foreign dignitaries are welcomed by the present King of Spain,” says Xavier Bray, the curator of the exhibition, describing the usual location of the works at the Royal Palace of Madrid.

“Without them we would not have been able to mark Goya's appointment as First Court Painter to Charles IV in 1799, a position he had fought long and hard to achieve.

“They are also some of his best portraits, in a perfect state of preservation and painted in a technique that only Velazquez before him could match.

“They show the King and Queen as real people, a couple who wished to be admired and loved by their subjects as equals.”

José Luis Díez, the Director of Collections at the palace, believes the paintings are the “first and most representative” of the royal portraits series made by Goya for the building, and says the loan was hastened by the National Gallery’s “outstanding reputation”.

“Due to the fragility of the works, the two portraits have not left the palace for two decades,” he says.

“Even then, only very occasionally have they been lent on an individual basis to temporary exhibitions.

“Given the importance of the exhibition - the first monographic show dedicated to Goya as portraitist – the board of directors have quite exceptionally authorised the loan of this superb pair of portraits.”

  • Goya: The Portraits is at the Sainsbury Wing from October 7 2015 – January 10 2016.

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Three galleries to see works by Goya in

Cartwright Hall Art Gallery, Bradford
Bradford's civic art gallery has been collecting prints for more than 100 years. Its collection includes works by master printmakers such as Goya, William Blake and Walter Sicker.

Pollok House, Glasgow
Set within Pollok Country Park, the 18th century home's collection includes works by El Greco (the famous Lady in a Fur Wrap) and Goya, as well as works by the English poet and artist William Blake.

The Higgins Bedford
The watercolour collection features works by British artists including Turner, Constable, Moore and Hepworth, whilst the print collection features works by international artists including Picasso, Goya and Warhol, alongside many others.
More on the venues and organisations we've mentioned: