The Prado Museum houses the most complete Goya collection in the world with 154 paintings and almost a thousand works including drawings, engravings and documents. But among the few gaps to be covered in the representation of the Fuendetodos artist’s work, a jewel was missing that has just become the property of the institution. Is about Hannibal victorious sees Italy from the Alps for the first time, one of his first oil paintings on a historical theme, which Francisco de Goya presented to a painting competition organized by the Academy of Parma on May 29, 1770. The painting has been acquired by the Association of Friends of the Prado Museum from the Foundation Asturian Selgas-Fagalde, for 3.3 million euros. The work was already in the museum’s permanent collection since 2011, the year in which the Asturian entity left it on deposit.
Unlike on other occasions, this time the Prado has preferred not to present the entry of the new painting in person. Its dissemination was made on Wednesday morning through a direct on Instagram with the intervention of the director of the museum, Miguel Falomir and the director of the Association of Friends of the Museum, Nuria de Miguel. Falomir said in that intervention that it is one of the paintings that best describes Goya’s beginnings. Made when the artist was only 25 years old, it was meticulously prepared by the painter based on numerous studies and notes. Some of them are collected in the Italian notebook, in which he collected ideas during his stay in Italy, between 1769 and 1771. There are also two sketches, also on canvas, of this same painting. One is owned by the Zaragoza Museum and the other was auctioned in New York in January 2020.
The donation is dedicated to the memory of Francisco Calvo Serraller and constitutes the first act of the celebration of the 40th anniversary of the Friends of the Museum Foundation, which will continue with the publication of a book on his history and will culminate with an exhibition in the rooms of the Prado, in which, for the first time, the works donated by the Foundation over its four decades of history can be seen together.
In a press release released after Falomir’s intervention on social networks, the museum recalls that the work of which it is now the owner is “a painting of undoubted technical perfection, which is revealed in the harmonious compositional order , in the excellent light treatment and in the safety and firmness of the brushstroke to model the figures with color and light ”.
In the same note it is added that the work received is, chronologically, Goya’s first documented painting. The artist made it in 1771 in Rome, during his two-year stay in Italy, to participate in the competition held by the prestigious Reale Accademia di Belle Arti de Parma. Although the award was awarded to Paolo Borroni, a disciple of that Academy, Goya obtained six votes and one mention, and his name was cited in the January 1772 edition of the accredited literary magazine The Mercure de France.
The work is an important example of Goya’s first contacts with the Italian academic world to make his way professionally. It is also an example of his ability to adapt to the aesthetics and narrative conventions of the academic world. This is one of the first occasions, of which we have testimony, in which Goya had to face such a narratively complex composition, and a very early example of his historical painting based on narrative and non-religious repertoires.