An investigator affirms to possess the original of a Goya self portrait presently hung at El Prado and denounces that the museum has rejected the possibility of comparing paintings.
“The self portrait of Goya acquired by El Prado in 1995 is a fake”.
This is affirmed by the art promoter Jose Oriol Sierra, who claims to have located the original in the hands of a Catalan collector. After more than two years of investigations Serra affirms that the canvas is a unique “Capricho” that the genius from Fuendetodos gave aS a gift to the Duchess of Alba and denounces that Manuela Mena, who is responsible for Goya’s works at the Prado, has rejected the possibility of comparing both oleos.
Madrid. Rosa Valdelomar.
For art promoter Jose Oriol Sierra, the mere observation and comparison of each of the two self portraits of Goya, the one at the Museo del Prado and that of the Catalan collector, is enough in order to confirm his theory. Despite of its conservation state, which is not very good, the Catalan self portrait is much superior than the copy the Prado has -assures Oriol- that in the later the profound and genial melancholy are absent, neither the richness of the colorful shirt.
From the technical stand point there is also a great difference which can be appreciated in the green background. To demonstrate this, Oriol surprised the reporters he had previously given appointment to in a well known Madrilean restaurant, extracting the Catalan Goya from an attaché and comparing it right there, in situ, with a color reproduction of the canvas at el Prado. He did not, however, allowed the Press to photograph the painting.
But Oriol’s thesis is not solely sustained upon the comparison of both paintings. “In the year 1989 the self portrait that the Prado has was auctioned in Madrid for a very low price, it was adjudicated for 30 million pesetas and right then the authorship of Goya was questioned.” Six years later Prado bought it from the Villaescusa state at a much higher price, granting as sufficient warranty of authenticity the painting’s provenance, when in this case, such provenance is more than a reason to question the authenticity instead of guarantee it”
According to Oriol this self portrait was a personal gift from Francisco de Goya to the XIII Duchess of Alba, with whom he was in love. At the Duchess’ demise, which was in 1802, her state was distributed among her trusted personal staff; among them was Tomas Berganza, the Duchess' administrator.
But the fighting over the inheritance began the very next day after her death. At that moment, copies of several Goyas were made for selling because the cash was not liquidated until 40 years later and by them a lot of interest already existed for the work of Goya. And there is documented evidence of the existence of those copies. The House of the Duke of Berwick, for instance, complained about the fact that the inheritors of the Duchess of Alba had given them copies of paintings passing them on as originals. I do believe that the Goya of the Berganzas is nothing more than a copy that has been considered as authentic since the first exposition that this artist realized in Madrid in 1900. The trail of the original, on the other hand, had been lost, until now.
The key of the “Caprichos.”
Oriol not only wants to vindicate the authenticity of the Catalan Goya, but also to demonstrate the importance of this self portrait. “Until now it has not gone unnoticed that this canvas measures exactly the same as the “Caprichos” engravings (18 X 12).” I believe that this self portrait is an unique “Capricho” that Goya wanted to give as a present to his loved one. It is painted with nobility and seriousness and it is signed on the back of the canvas that he is painting. When the original from Goya was copied, the existing dirt already hid this signature and that is why the canvas of El Prado has a very rough signature and in a place where Goya didn’t usually signed. The fact that he signed at the dorsum of the painting has to be interpreted as to induce to turn the painting, if this is done, in the Catalan Goya a letter “P” of "Paco" or "Pintor" with the calligraphy of the epoch appears. Letter that the Prado copy has NOT. Oriol believes that with this letter Goya invites to unravel the “Caprichos” referring to the horizontality of the texts versus the verticality of the images.
Once his investigations done, Oriol sought to organize a congress of specialists, but he first wanted to be the Prado the first in knowing his thesis. Fernando Checa (El Prado's director a that time) did NOT received him and Manuela Mena did, but she refused to compare both paintings! End.
P.S.(Article appeared in the ABC of Madrid on 23/5/01)
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