Francisco de Goya

Children Playing at Soldiers (Niños jugando a los soldados)

Children Playing at Soldiers (Niños jugando a los soldados)
Datos Generales
Cronología
Ca. 1777 - 1785
Ubicación
Pollok House, Glasgow, United Kingdom
Dimensiones
29 x 42 cm
Técnica y soporte
Oil on canvas
Reconocimiento de la autoría de Goya
Undisputed work
Titular
Pollok House
Ficha: realización/revisión
25 Apr 2010 / 28 Jun 2017
Historia

Before arriving at the Madrid museum where it is now housed, this painting belonged to the London collection of Anne Maxwell Macdonald.

Análisis artístico

Between 1777 and 1785, coinciding with his work for the Royal Tapestry Factory of Santa Bárbara, Goya produced a series of oil paintings on the theme of children's games, all of them of very similar dimensions. Sambricio has suggested that these works could be a set of sketches for tapestry cartoons. However, we can probably rule out this hypothesis considering the complexity of the scenes, which would have made their subsequent conversion into tapestries difficult. They are more likely canvases in their own right, perhaps made to order, and of which various copies exist, probably executed by Goya's assistants. Such work would have provided a valuable source of income for the Aragonese artist, who was at the time still at the beginning of his career. Moreover, the fact that there exist more than one copy of each of the oil paintings that make up the series suggests that these works, thanks to their agreeable subject matter, achieved some modest success. They would have been ideal for decorating the homes of well-off members of society.

As for the sources that inspired this group of works, we should consider the possibility that Goya may have been familiar with the costumbrista paintings of Pedro Núñez Villacencio (Seville, Ca. 1635-Seville, 1700). He may even have had the opportunity to see some of the paintings by David Teniers the Younger (Antwerp, 1610-Brussels, 1690) which had been used at the Royal Textile Factory of Santa Bárbara.

In 1842, fourteen years after Goya's death, the existence of this series of pictures came to light when four of them were acquired in Seville by William Stirling-Maxwell, of Pollok, Glasgow (Kenmure, 1818-Kenmure, 1878). The Santamarca collection holds six more paintings from the same series, adding two new titles (Children Playing at Soldiers and Children Playing at Bullfighting) to the four which had been acquired by the Scottish historian and collector.

In Children Playing at Soldiers we see a group of children on a hilltop, having fun imitating grown-ups. Despite his ragged clothes, the boy in the centre of the composition is impersonating a king, surrounded by other children who are pretending to be his vassals. One of them is even kneeling before the pretend king, perhaps swearing his allegiance. To the left of this group, five boys dressed as soldiers are marching.

Between 1778 and 1779, Goya had painted a tapestry cartoon with the same title (Prado Museum, Madrid) . The differences between the present work and the cartoon centre around the fact that the children in the cartoon belong to a higher social class, as we can see from their clothes and their carefree attitude. In addition, in the cartoon the children are playing in a much more open setting, perhaps a reflection of their financial well-being. In the work painted later, however, we can see a veiled criticism of the social and political reality of the time, especially in the submissive pose of the child who is kneeling before the pretend monarch.

There exist two more copies of Children Playing at Soldiers, one in the collection of the Santamarca Foundation, in Madrid, and the other in the Maxwell Mac-Donald collection, London.

Exposiciones
  • Goya nelle collezioni private di Spagne
    Villa Favorita
    Lugano
    1986
    consultant editor Marta Medina. From June 15th to October 15th 1986
  • Goya et la modernité
    Pinacothèque de Paris
    Paris
    2013
    from October 11st 2013 to March 16th 2014
Bibliografía
  • Vie et ouvre de Francisco de Goya
    Juliet Wilson and Pierre Gassier
    p. 90, cat. 154
    1970
    Office du livre
  • Goya, 1746 – 1828. Biografía, estudio analítico y catálogo de sus pinturas, 4 vols.
    José Gudiol
    vol. I, p. 266, cat. 191
    1970
    Polígrafa
  • L’opera pittorica completa di Goya
    Rita de Angelis
    p. 97, cat. 125
    1974
    Rizzoli
  • Nuevas aportaciones a la obra de Goya
    Goya
    José Camón Aznar
    p. 205
    nº 148-150
    1979
  • Goya. Arte e condizione umana
    Alfredo de Paz
    p. 60, il. 40
    1990
    Liguori editore
  • Goya en la Fundación Lázaro Galdiano
    Mariana Cano Cuesta
    p. 335, cat. 92
    1999
    Fundación Lázaro Galdiano
  • Goya y lo goyesco en la Fundación Lázaro Galdiano
    pp. 99-123
    2003
Enlaces externos
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