I always visit the Israel Museum in Jerusalem and always find amazing things to see. I will have three blog posts on this one excursion because it was quite amazing this time. There are always so many contradictions here in Israel, especially in Jerusalem, and a day at the museum is no exception. Their special exhibit was works by Francisco Goya in honor of his 270th birthday and lent by the Prado Museum in Madrid. The cultural exchange between Spain and Israel only began 30 years ago.
The first series of exquisite prints are from the series called Caprichos. They describe imagery that is part of the “scenery” basically people who usually go unnoticed. In Goya’s hands he placed the figures in the center and turned frivolous images into somewhat sinister ones. The next two are perfect examples of how much Goya was influenced by and admired his predecessor Velasquez. The next series which was considered so radical and dangerous that it was not published until after his death is titled “The Disasters of War”. It depicts the atrocities of war, mostly the invasion by Napoleon that is also depicted in his large scale paintings of May 3, 1808 and then the rest are of the resulting famine from 1811-1812. There is quite a bit of allegory in these prints. A technique unfamiliar to me shown here is called roulette. It’s a special toothed tool used in aquatint to create a dark tone.
It was great to see two of Goya’s most famous paintings (from the Prado) that were created as cartoons for tapestries. Cartoons are full scale drawings or paintings that are then used as templates of sorts for the weavers. They depict a very different scene from the prints. The prints following them are of bullfighting, again influenced by Velasquez and in turn influencing artists like Degas with the diagonals and asymmetrical poles. Check out Degas’ paintings of jockeys to see what I mean. The final prints done just before his death are from a series called “Les Disparates”