My Mazamet

Life at № 42

Exceptional Beauty: Up Close and Personal with Goya

Boys with Mastiffs,

de Goya y Lucientes

Prado Museum

1786. Oil on canvas, 112 x 145 cm.

“Two boys hold two large, muzzled mastiffs by their leads. On the collar of one dog is an incomplete inscription reading “DEL SoR”, which may mean “I am in the Royal Service”. The format of this cartoon suggests that the final tapestry would have hung over a door, forming a pair with Boy riding a Ram,the cartoon for which is in the Art Institute of Chicago.”

Now what I’m going to show you today is a real treat. The picture above is what’s called a tapestry cartoon (carton, in French) and serves as the model after which a tapestry is woven. Goya designed 63 cartoons on commission for Charles III and IVth of Spain. The cartoons themselves are well known as they’re mostly at the Prado in Madrid and some (very few) outside of Spain; but what people almost never get to see are the actual tapestries (except for those who’ve visited El Pardo or Viana Palace in Córdoba). And certainly not up close! In my recent efforts to be more constructive (exhausting, since procrastinating and being mean come so much more naturally!), I decided to make it a personal project to find a Goya tapestry and then convince the Goya museum in Castres to buy it. Particularly because tapestries were so iconic in Goya’s work and the museum has none. No easy task as there’s only one sales record I could find of Goya tapestries from the major auction houses in the past 40 years (Sotheby’s NY 2003). And so here we are, I’ve got two. The detail is extraordinary. Think of tapestries in terms of pixels, the smaller the pixel, the finer the image (the better the curves, the more accurate the shadows) – and of course the smaller that knot, the harder it is to make. Behold:

Did you notice there are two mastiffs and one is looking straight at you? This post is going to go private in the near future, so enjoy while it’s around 🙂

And here’s El Balancín. First the cartoon, then the version at Viana Palace, then the version which will hopefully join the museum collection.

Image result for balacin goya

Image result for balacin goya

And in case you’re wondering what tapestry knots look like from behind, here’s an example. Each time the colour changes, another thread is woven into the design:

 

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67 comments on “Exceptional Beauty: Up Close and Personal with Goya

  1. Esme upon the Cloud
    December 8, 2017

    By the Gods they’re magnificent! The detail. Oh to see them in real life, you’re a lucky man Mr Pink, and well done for sourcing them and getting the museum interested, you’re a national treasure!

    – Esme Cloud keeping the pictures for herself before they disappear.

    Liked by 4 people

    • The Pink Agendist
      December 8, 2017

      The museum doesn’t know these pieces are available yet…! I’m going to wait until after the holidays for that. Meanwhile they’ve been baptised by all three dogs who’ve sat on them when I was trying to take photographs. Oops.

      Liked by 3 people

  2. Scottie
    December 8, 2017

    Delightful. Hugs

    Liked by 2 people

  3. makagutu
    December 8, 2017

    Magnificent! You have great taste even in mundane things like paintings
    *walks away*

    Liked by 1 person

  4. foolsmusings
    December 8, 2017

    Wow they are truly beautiful. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • The Pink Agendist
      December 8, 2017

      They’re exceptional. Looking up close and seeing the sort of tedious precision that’s necessary to create one of these pieces is amazing.

      Like

  5. Merilee
    December 8, 2017

    Magnifique! Must say I didn’t at first spot mastiff #2’s mug, but did see more than 4 canine legs. I have, in the past, done a small amount of (much simpler) tapestry weaving and am well aware of “tedious precision” this kind of work takes!

    Liked by 2 people

    • The Pink Agendist
      December 8, 2017

      It’s fun to stand by it at the Prado and listen to the conversations. “Why does it say Mastiffs, I only see one.” – There’s a mistake, what are all these legs… and so forth 🙂
      Did you weave as a hobby or a specific project?

      Like

      • Merilee
        December 8, 2017

        Lol. I did a fair amount of weaving as a hobby, I guess, in my early to mid 30s before my kids were born. Only really did one tapestry ( after an Emile Nolde print), a number of rugs, some clothing, etc. Loved it at the time and figured I’d get back to my 45″ loom
        When I retired from teaching a few years ago. Seems the loom just sat there, my daughter, especially with a new baby herself, was not interested, so I gave it to a very talented weaving friend who’d lost some of her own looms in a divorce.

        Btw, I fell in love many moons ago in the Goya room at the Prado. Said lover and I are still fridnds😍

        Liked by 1 person

  6. Sirius Bizinus
    December 8, 2017

    Why is this post going to go private?

    Liked by 1 person

    • The Pink Agendist
      December 8, 2017

      Buyers, whether private people or institutions, usually prefer to control the discussion around what they buy. Some don’t want pictures of their property out at all. It’s a minefield.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Ali
    December 8, 2017

    Thank you. So very beautiful.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Tish Farrell
    December 8, 2017

    Such exquisite craftsmanship. Thank you for showing them to us.

    Liked by 1 person

    • The Pink Agendist
      December 8, 2017

      Isn’t it just? Imagine the sort of eye it takes to even just recognise the colour nuances and choose the threads. It really does have to be the equivalent to the eye of a master painter.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Tish Farrell
        December 8, 2017

        Indeed – and there is the actual translation from one medium to another – from paint to thread, and how the eye will respond to the work close to, or at some distance. And as you say the making of each stitch requiring such precision, to say nothing of maintaining an even and uniform tension for each stitch. Marvellous the more one thinks of it.

        Liked by 1 person

  9. Steve Ruis
    December 8, 2017

    I suspect the boys would have desired saddles for those dogs! Were the weavers male or female do you think? Probably female with the male designer getting all of the credit.

    Liked by 1 person

    • The Pink Agendist
      December 8, 2017

      There were both male and female weavers. In the big ateliers there were often people specialised in specific things (trees, faces, animals etc.) The people in charge, as you guessed, were always men. In the case of the Spanish Royal Manufactory it was the Vandergoten Stuyck family (men) for the past 300 years.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. kjennings952
    December 8, 2017

    The dogs brought tears to my eyes, so beautiful!! (You have a high quality camera to capture it too!)

    I also love that you are focused on constructive pursuits as a personal growth opportunity 😉 When you share your knowledge of the craft of beauty, you are generous and inspiring!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • The Pink Agendist
      December 8, 2017

      The dogs are nearly “alive”. You can almost feel them breathing. And yes, constructive pursuits are a good thing. For every good thing I do, that’s one less person I’ve had time to torture 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  11. coteetcampagne
    December 8, 2017

    So, will we contribute to the wine stains and shall we bring a fourth dog?

    Liked by 1 person

    • The Pink Agendist
      December 8, 2017

      As long as your dog is friendly it’s okay. Ours are enthusiastically over-friendly…

      Liked by 1 person

      • coteetcampagne
        December 8, 2017

        Bronte doesn’t understand relationships with people or dogs, never had a proper one before we came along .
        Have been gently introducing her to nice people with nice dogs. But she is quite happy to sleep in the car if she can’t cope with the excitement.

        Liked by 1 person

      • The Pink Agendist
        December 8, 2017

        Be prepared for a mess… The house is still very much part construction site! :/

        Like

      • coteetcampagne
        December 8, 2017

        Pink, you haven’t seen our hovel, believe me I have seen it all

        Liked by 1 person

    • Merilee
      December 8, 2017

      Fourth dog?? Did I miss a third one??

      Liked by 1 person

      • The Pink Agendist
        December 8, 2017

        There are three. Morgan (Brittany Spaniel), Bessie (collie mix) and Rudy the Terrorist (rat terrier)

        Liked by 1 person

      • Merilee
        December 8, 2017

        Lovely houndage, Pink!! I thought people were talking about the Goya dogs🐾🐾
        We just adopted a German Shepherd/Mexi-mutt mix ( from Mexico) about 5 weeks ago after losing our dear 15-yr.-old Currie ( German Shepherd/Lab/Great Dane) in early Sept.

        Liked by 1 person

      • The Pink Agendist
        December 8, 2017

        So sorry for your loss! You’ve done the right thing by adopting again. It’s the best way to put your emotions and energy back on track while doing something *constructive*!!!

        Like

      • Merilee
        December 8, 2017

        Thanks, Pink. We only lasted 2 months sans chien because we had a month-long road trip in between and my bf convinced me that driving 3000 km cross-country with a new puppy would not be the smartest move… A couple of years ago we only lasted 10 days sans chat.

        Liked by 1 person

      • coteetcampagne
        December 8, 2017

        Like the sound of Rudy the Terrorist.

        Like

      • Merilee
        December 8, 2017

        How do you keep that white slipcover(?) white??🐾🐾🐾🐾🐾🐾

        Liked by 1 person

      • The Pink Agendist
        December 8, 2017

        It’s generally got a blanket on it, but it’s very good thick linen, which means it can be washed again and again 🙂

        Like

      • Merilee
        December 8, 2017

        😻

        Like

      • The Pink Agendist
        December 8, 2017

        You say that now, just wait until he’s trying to bully his way onto your lap.

        Like

  12. Carmen
    December 8, 2017

    They are real treasures, Mr. M. I’m sure the museum will think you are, too! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  13. karenjane
    December 8, 2017

    What fabulous finds. The work involved in creating them is exquisite, & I appreciate the rare chance to see the reverse. I’ve often seen tapestries in various National Trust houses, but due to the ever present danger of them fading in daylight, they are invariably displayed in darkened rooms, & I find them very boring, as it’s impossible to see any details. These are alive with colour. I think we all hope you will continue to be more ‘constructive’ in future, so we may see more lovely treasures.

    Liked by 1 person

    • The Pink Agendist
      December 8, 2017

      Ooooh, then I’ll do some tapestry posts soon as I’ve got an endless amount of pictures/references and even some good samples of different types of (very colourful) weaving 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

      • coteetcampagne
        December 10, 2017

        Look forward to these posts.
        I have a fair amount of knowledge re old textiles, but not tapestries, sadly. Keen to learn.
        I have to respect the craft. If a painting goes wrong, you can scrape off and repaint a section, most certainly can’t do that with a tapestry, so I admire those who can do.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Merilee
        December 10, 2017

        I would have thought that you could redo an individual knot in a tapestry?? but I may be wrong. The only tapestries I’ve woven were done in small “blocks”, with slits left behind. It wasn’t impssible to redo parts, but not exactly easy.

        Liked by 1 person

      • coteetcampagne
        December 10, 2017

        Not sure, but I cannot imagine it would be easy to rework a complex area.

        Like

      • Merilee
        December 10, 2017

        Not easy, for sure!

        Liked by 1 person

      • The Pink Agendist
        December 10, 2017

        I can see a normal face turning into a Picasso face very easily 😀

        Like

      • merilee
        December 10, 2017

        lol! One of the ocean waves in my tapestry looks more like a blue pyramid…Of course I planned it that way – Cubism and all -not…

        Liked by 1 person

      • The Pink Agendist
        December 10, 2017

        That’s the story of my life 😀 They were supposed to be waves, but they’re pyramids, deal with it!

        Like

      • Merilee
        December 11, 2017

        My story and I’m stickin’ to it😬

        Liked by 1 person

  14. acflory
    December 8, 2017

    Oh My God….these are superb. The delicacy of the colouring…I just can’t imagine the hours that would have gone into just one small part of these tapestries.
    Do we know anything at all about the people [women?] who actually created them?
    My late aunt made lace and she also created tapestries, two of which I now own, so I’m kind of focused on the women behind the scenes so to speak, not just Goya.

    Liked by 1 person

    • The Pink Agendist
      December 8, 2017

      I’ll include some of the behind the scenes info in the coming tapestry posts. The process was amazing. Everything from making the thread, to dying the thread (to match the cartoons!), to designing the piece, involved a tremendous amount of work.

      And on a separate note, the other day I was listening to a singer I think you might like:

      Like

      • acflory
        December 9, 2017

        Yes please! And I love Henri Salvador’s voice. Is his accent pure French though?

        Liked by 1 person

      • The Pink Agendist
        December 10, 2017

        …from Cayenne

        Like

      • acflory
        December 10, 2017

        Hah! I thought there was something a little different about it. Still smooth as silk though. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  15. Merilee
    December 9, 2017

    Gorgeous! There’s a little something that reminds me of Jacques Brel.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Dr Martina Feyzrakhmanova
    December 10, 2017

    This is really cool to get this insight into your work

    Liked by 1 person

  17. midihideaways
    December 11, 2017

    Wonderful – fingers crossed we’ll be able to admire them in Castres before too long!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • The Pink Agendist
      December 11, 2017

      I do hope they agree! I’d much rather see them there than in a private collection where very few people ever get to see them.

      Liked by 1 person

  18. I love tapestries, always have. It is amazing to me that you have these in your possession. I don’t think you should say but obviously I am curious as to how that came to be. As you reveal yourself to us you become more and more interesting.
    You jump from art, to architecture to existential questions, to remodeling to your tortured psyche. I visit every once in a while, not daily and just when I am typing in your URL I am wondering what is going to be there today. Will Pink be up? Will Pink be down? Is he questioning the meaning of “good” today? It just never ends with you, your interests and talents are vast and varied. Although we share some common interests I’m not at all like you which is probably why I enjoy visiting with you.

    Are you still writing your life story or have you put that down for the moment? I enjoyed this Goya tapestry thread.

    Liked by 1 person

    • The Pink Agendist
      December 21, 2017

      Still writing, but I had to focus on these other things for a little while. I find I have to juggle a bit, to clear my mind, and also to exercise it.
      How nice that you like tapestries, that’s rare these days. Has it been the case for a long time, and what piqued your interest?

      Like

  19. Seeing tapestries in the great art museums of Europe since my early 20’s. Especially the HUGE tapestries, how can you not be awed by that? Plus I sew which not the same, but still has similarities to creating tapestries. As a matter of fact I am wearing right now a pair of pajamas I sewed. I sewed my mother a matching night gown.
    Sidebar, I had some specific things I wanted incorporated into a pair of pajamas, and I could not find that anywhere and believe me I put in the effort looking, so I bought a pattern, adjusted the pattern to what I wanted and sewed them myself. I sewed 2 pairs actually plus the nightgown for my mother.

    See I’m a little bit fussy the way you are. I know what I want, I think it through and if I can’t find it I just make it myself. When I was young I sewed many of my business suites, I was very slender and by sewing them myself I could get the fit I needed. Our lives would be easier if we were not so fussy.

    Liked by 1 person

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This entry was posted on December 8, 2017 by in art, design and tagged , , , .
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