Francisco José de Goya y Lucientes, Zeichner
Bildnis des Duke of Wellington, ca. 1812
This drawing is closely related to Francisco de Goya's other portraits of the Duke, all three of which are in London: a red-chalk drawing at the British Museum (inv. 1862.0712.185), an oil on panel at the National Gallery (inv. 6322) and an oil on canvas at Apsley House (inv. WM 1566-1948). The earliest historians to study the Hamburg collection, including Valerian von Loga and August Mayer, accepted this drawing's attribution to Goya notwithstanding changes in the latter's position on this collection's goyesco drawings between 1920 and 1923. In his 1975 catalogue of Goya's drawings, Pierre Gassier maintained this attribution, but many specialists have cast doubt on its originality, including Allan Braham, who considered it a copy by one of Goya's assistants "as a record of a painted portrait.” Juliet Wilson-Bareau thought it was probably by Valentín Carderera, to whom he also attributed the inscription. According to him, Carderera could have seen and copied the painting at that stage of its creation. The arguments against attributing this drawing to Goya have almost always stemmed from its technique, specifically what Eleanor Sayre called its weak and indecisive representation of the sitter's features. As a result, it has often been considered a copy of the drawing in London. Except for that possible attribution to Carderera, who actually owned this drawing, no one else has ventured to propose an author. The artist, however, might have been someone from the world of engravings, as one of the most widely accepted working hypotheses associated with this drawing involves that practice. Indeed, numerous authors consider the London drawing a possible preparatory sketch for a print intended to make the Duke's image better known. Moreover, there are indications that this was the purpose of the London drawing, as its paper shows the marks of a copper plate and its image has the proper format and placement, with the lower part left empty for the posterior addition of a title on the print. It is well known-the Hamburg collection has notable examples that Goya made similar red-chalk drawings for engravings. This drawing also has a series of characteristics that suggest it was intended for use in that process, but they also relate it to the moment in which the artist was preparing his oil portrait for the National Gallery. Firstly, the dimensions of the Duke's face are identical in both drawings, which clearly indicates that one is a tracing of the other, although there is no documentation to that effect, and the London drawing shows no marks of red chalk on the back. Secondly, both have marked contours that indicate part of that process. On the other hand, the Hamburg drawing modifies some aspects of the London drawing, which seems to link it more to the painted portrait. It is also very close to the painting in formal details such as the clothing and military decorations. Moreover, modifications made to the latter during the painting process have been carefully studied by Braham and Wilson-Bareau. Analysis of these differences indicate that the Hamburg drawing captures a moment in the middle of the painting process when the Golden Fleece, which the Duke received in August 1812, was placed over the medallion of the War of Independence, but before the Duke was awarded the Gold Cross with three bars in 1813. This latter military honor was added to the painting afterward and the Fleece was moved to accommodate it. That allows us to consider the Hamburg drawing a copy of the red-chalk work in which certain anatomical aspects were corrected, including the nose's dorsal hump and nostrils; the eyes, which are slightly smaller; and the eyelids, which are less droopy. Later, coinciding with the painting, some details of the Duke's clothing were completed in this drawing, possibly with the intention of making a print. A comparison of the two shows that this second drawing corrects certain aspects of the first in order to create an image with greater dignity, poise, and confidence. We know that Goya made other pencil drawings for engravings, including one of the Count of Gausa that was engraved by Fernando Selma (1752-1810; Museo del Prado, D 6427) and another of the Duchess of Osuna, known only through a print by Selma. It is thus perfectly possible to relate such drawings with the engraving process. The criticized lack of strength in the background pencil marks, or the lack of marks of varying intensity that would have added nuances to the portrait, are not sufficient to support a rejection of Goya's authorship. As part of a larger creative process, it is understandable that he could have copied his own work in order to maintain a high level of quality in the portrait that was supposed to serve as a model for the engraver, adding the Golden Fleece to the sitter's decorations. The results
may weaken this drawing just as the portraits in The Family of Charles IV (Madrid, Museo Nacional del Prado, P 726) are less fresh than those in the corresponding oil studies painted from life. And, at present, it would be very difficult to demonstrate that a drawing of this quality could have been made by a hypothetical assistant or even by Carderera.
Of course, Carderera is a fundamental figure in the story of these drawings, as the first of his articles about the painter, published in 1860, indicates that he, himself, owned “two studies, one in red crayon, the other in black crayon, according to Lord Wellington, the sitter for his great equestrian portrait. They bear a character of amazing indivuality. It has been pointed out that the inscriptions on both drawings are by Carderera's hand, and we know that the British Museum acquired his drawing from the London merchant, Colnaghi, in 1862. Wilson-Bareau's suggested attribution of the Hamburg portrait to Carderera would imply a historical falsification by that Spanish scholar and collector, who would thus have misrepresented it to the prestigious French periodical, Gazette des Beaux Arts. Nevertheless, while it may be possible to question other drawings from Carderera's collection, the quality of the present work, its definition of Wellington's physiognomy, and its relation to other works by Goya, allow us to maintain the latter's authorship.
José Manuel Matilla
1 Braham 1966, 78-83.
2 See Braham 1988, 155.
3 Wilson-Bareau in Mena Marqués (ed.) 2008, 278, nos. 78-79.
4 Wellesley and Steegmann 1935, 13.
5 Braham 1966.
6 Wilson-Bareau in Mena Marqués (ed.) 2008, nos. 78-79.
7 Matilla 2010, 377-401.
8 "deux études, l'une au crayon rouge, l'autre au crayon noir, d'après lord Wellington, qui
lui servirent pour son grand portrait équestre. Elles portent un cachet d'individualité étonnante."; Carderera 1860, 215.