Constitutional ideas in Francisco de Goya’s work

Constitutional ideas in Francisco de Goya’s work
Yareah Magazine
Ferdinand VII of Spain, by Goya

Ferdinand VII of Spain, by Goya

10 May – 12 August

Room 38. Villanueva building. Prado Museum, Madrid

An eloquent witness of his times, in some of his works Goya interpreted subjects associated with the social and political reforms arising from the constitutional programme first proposed in the Statute of Bayonne of 1808 (a letter addressed to the Spanish people by Napoleon) and shortly afterwards in the 1812 Constitution. The latter was popularly known as La Pepa as it was passed by the Spanish parliament on 19 March, Saint Joseph’s day (in Spanish Pepe is short for José), on the Isla del León in Cadiz.

In some of his AlbumC drawings Goya, who lived in Madrid during the Peninsular War (1808-14), depicted scenes that reflect some of the key ideas expressed in the Statute and the Constitution. These images indicate his enormously positive reaction to the reforms and their consequences.

The return to Spain of Ferdinand VII in 1814 resulted in the abolition of the Constitution and the repression of its supporters and those who had allied themselves with the French. In the final prints of the Disasters of War series Goya symbolically expressed the abrupt disappearance of these new liberties: the end of national sovereignty, of the separation of powers and of uncensored press and publishing industry.


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