Francisco de Goya

The Manufacture of Gunpowder (La fabricación de pólvora)

The Manufacture of Gunpowder (La fabricación de pólvora)
Datos Generales
Cronología
Ca. 1810 - 1814
Ubicación
Palacio de la Zarzuela, Madrid, Spain
Dimensiones
32.9 x 52.2 cm
Técnica y soporte
Oil on wood panel
Reconocimiento de la autoría de Goya
Undisputed work
Titular
National Heritage
Ficha: realización/revisión
14 Mar 2010 / 14 Apr 2021
Inventario
(10009052)
Inscripciones

Numero 1 / Fabrica de pólvora establecida por D. Josef Mallen / en la Sierra de Tardienta / en Aragón / en los años de 1811, 12 y 13 ("Number 1 / Manufacture of gunpowder established by Mr Josef Mallan / in the Sierra de Tardienta / in Aragón / in the years 1811, 1812, and 1813"), on the back.

690 (lower right-hand corner, in white)

Historia

Goya was called to Zaragoza in 1808 by José Palafox to visit the ruins of the city, which had been devastated by French troops, and paint the "triumphs" of the people of Zaragoza at this site. Goya wrote a letter to José Munárriz which confirms this trip to his home region. The artist painted two works on panel which form a pair based either on this visit or on a subsequent one which took place before the end of the War of Independence. These were entitled The Manufacture of Gunpowder and The Manufacture of Bullets.

Both entered into royal collections when they were acquired by Ferdinand VII some time after his return to Madrid in 1814. They appear in the Inventory of Paintings, Furnishings, and Jewels of the Royal Palaces of Madrid, Sites and Country Houses (Inventario de pinturas, muebles y alhajas de los Palacios Reales de Madrid, Sitios y Casas de Campo) drawn up in 1834, registered to the Royal Seat of San Lorenzo de El Escorial. They then moved to the Royal Palace in Madrid before moving once more to the Zarzuela Palace.

Análisis artístico

Although they are not signed, thanks to the inscriptions on the back of the paintings we know that they depict clandestine activities carried out in the Sierra de Tardienta in Huesca, some 50 km north of Zaragoza. In 1810, José Mallén, shoemaker to Almudévar, organized a party of guerrillas and ordered the manufacture of gunpowder (the gunpowder produced in Aragón was famous for its quality) and bullets at his secret factory to supply the regions of Aragón, Valencia, and Catalonia. We do not know if Goya was able to see these scenes in real life (although it is probable that he did not, given the inaccessibility of the site) or if they were inspired by descriptions and news items, but it is clear that the story these paintings tell is also a historical reality.

The panel on which this scene is painted is very irregular. It seems to be a cedar panel from a door or a window shutter, which suggests the lack of available materials during the war.

Despite its rudimentary support, the painting is executed with documentary precision, showing Goya's lasting interest in "the glory of his country". The energetic activity of the men is clearly depicted, giving two very vivid scenes. With these works the painter wished to pay homage to his countrymen and his native region.

The setting is painted in detail, dominated by the trees which tower over the sandy terrain. It has been noted that landscape plays a fundamental role in these paintings, and is therefore not reduced to a background screen against which the figures are outlined; rather, it has a life of its own, expressed by means of different pictorial qualities. The figures of the men busily going about their tasks are arranged in an orderly fashion which allows the viewer to follow each step of the gunpowder manufacturing process. On the left, they pound the mix. Then, in the centre of the scene, the powder is sifted before it is placed in boxes and carried away by the figures on the right. A man dressed in black who might be the factory owner, José Mallén, gives instructions to the other men.

Exposiciones
  • Goya 1900
    Ministerio de Instrucción Pública and Bellas Artes
    Madrid
    1900
    consultant editors Aureliano de Beruete, Alejandro Ferrant, Marqués de Pidal and Ricardo Velázquez. May 1900
  • Pinturas de Goya
    Museo Nacional del Prado
    Madrid
    1928
    consultant editor Fernando Álvarez de Sotomayor. From Apri to -May 1928
  • Les chefs-d’œuvre du Musée du Prado
    Musée d’Art et d’Histoire
    Geneva
    1939
    consultant editors Fernando Álvarez de Sotomayor y Pedro Muguruza Otaño. From June to September 1939
  • Exposición conmemorativa del centenario de Goya
    Palacio de Oriente
    Madrid
    1946
    organized by Patrimonio Nacional. June 1946
  • Goya. Gemälde Zeichnungen. Graphik. Tapisserien
    Kunsthalle Basel
    Basle
    1953
    from January 23th to April 12th 1953
  • Stora Spanska Mästare
    Nationalmuseum
    Stockholm
    1959
  • Francisco de Goya. IV Centenario de la capitalidad
    organized by Ayuntamiento de Madrid and Dirección General de Bellas Artes at the Casón del Buen Retiro
    Madrid
    1961
    consultant editor Valentín de Sambricio
  • Goya
    Musée Jacquemart-André
    París
    1961
    consultant editor Jean-Gabriel Domergue. From December 1961 to February 1962
  • Goya and his times
    The Royal Academy of Arts
    London
    1963
    cat. 66
  • Goya en las colecciones madrileñas
    Museo Nacional del Prado
    Madrid
    1983
    consultant editor Enrique Lafuente Ferrari. From April 19th to June 20th 1983
  • Goya
    Koninklijke Musea Voor Schone Kunsten Van België
    Brussels
    1985
    consultant editor Luis González Seara. From October 26th to December 22nd 1985
  • Goya y el espíritu de la Ilustración
    Museo Nacional del Prado
    Madrid
    1988
    from October 6th to December 18th 1988. Exhibited also at Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, January 18th to March 26th 1989; The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Nueva York, May 9th to July 16th 1989, Madrid curator Manuela B. Mena Marqués, scientific directors Alfonso E. Pérez Sánchez and Eleanor A. Sayre
  • La alianza de dos monarquías: Wellington en España
    Museo Municipal
    Madrid
    1988
    organized by Fundación Hispano-Británica in collaboration with Ayuntamiento de Madrid. From October 19th to December 11th 1988
  • Goya. El Capricho y la Invención. Cuadros de gabinete, bocetos y miniaturas
    Museo Nacional del Prado
    Madrid
    1993
    from November 18th 1993 to February 15th 1994. Exhibited also at the Royal Academy of Arts, London, March 18th to June 12th 1994 and The Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, July 16th to October 16th 1994, consultant editors Manuela B. Mena Marqués and Juliet Wilson-Bareau
  • Realidad e imagen. Goya 1746 – 1828
    Museo de Zaragoza
    Zaragoza
    1996
    consultant editor Federico Torralba Soriano. From October 3th to December 1st 1996
  • Goya
    Galleria Nazionale d’Arte Antica di Palazzo Barberini
    Roma
    2000
    consultant editors Lorenza Mochi Onori and Claudio Strinati. From March 18th to June 18th 2000
  • Goya: Prophet der Moderne
    Alte Nationalgalerie
    Berlin
    2005
    from July 13th to October 3th 2005. Exhibitied also at the Kunsthistorischemuseum, Vienna, October 18th 2005 to January 8th 2006, consultant editor Manuela B. Mena Marqués
  • Goya en tiempos de guerra
    Museo Nacional del Prado
    Madrid
    2008
    consultant editor Manuela B. Mena Marqués, from April 14th to July 13th 2008
  • Goya y el infante don Luis: el exilio y el reino.
    Palacio Real, Madrid
    Madrid
    2012
    Arte y ciencia en la época de la ilustración española. Responsable científico Francisco Calvo Serraller. Del octubre de 2012 a enero de 2013.
Bibliografía
  • Xavier Desparmet Fitz-Gerald
    L'œuvre peint de Goya. 4 vols
    París
    1928-1950
    vol. I, p. 255, cat. 227
  • GASSIER, Pierre y WILSON, Juliet
    Vie et ouvre de Francisco de Goya
    ParísOffice du livre
    1970
    pp. 257, 267, cat. 980
  • vol. I, p. 358, cat. 618
  • ANGELIS, Rita de
    L’opera pittorica completa di Goya
    MilanRizzoli
    1974
    p. 126, cat. 549
  • Francisco de Goya Y Lucientes
    Diplomatario
    ZaragozaInstitución “Fernando el Católico”
    1981
    pp. 326, 369, nºs 227, 240
  • WILSON-BAREU, Juliet
    Goya. El capricho y la invención. Cuadros de gabinete, bocetos y miniaturas
    MadridMuseo del Prado
    1993
    pp. 303-305, 377, cat. 90 y p. 306 (il.)
  • José Camón Aznar
    Francisco de Goya, 4 vols.
    ZaragozaCaja de Ahorros de Zaragoza, Aragón y Rioja
    1980-1982
    vol. IV, p. 256 (il.)
  • MENA, Manuela B. (comisaria)
    Goya en tiempos de guerra
    MadridMuseo Nacional del Prado
    2008
    p. 272, cat. 76 y p. 273 (il.)
Enlaces externos
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