6 days, £1,340
Lecturer: Dr Xavier Bray
The eighteenth century was an uneventful chapter in the history of Spanish painting. Foreigners dominated, and the prettiness of Rococo vitiated the traditional strengths of naturalism and expressionistic intensity.
The arrival of Francisco de Goya y Lucientes into this enervated world had an explosive effect. Goya’s early years were spent in unpropitious circumstances having been born in a remote village on the Aragonese plain. He learnt his craft in the equally unpromising location of Zaragoza before escaping to Madrid. At first he made little headway in this more competitive environment, but after a couple of years in Italy his fortunes began to change.
Upon returning to Madrid, he was employed in making cartoons for the Royal Tapestry Factory. His astonishingly candid portraits were no barrier to his rapid rise to success, and in due course he became Principal Painter to the King and Director of the San Fernando Academy.
However, the experience of the Napoleonic occupation and the War of Independence, and an illness which led to deafness, stimulated some of the most nightmarish images in the history of art.
The tour is timed to include two temporary exhibitions, ‘Goya: in times of war’ at the Prado, to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the beginning of the War of Independence, and ‘Goya and Italy’ (a provisional title) in Zaragoza.
DAY 1: LONDON TO ZARAGOZA—fly at c. 9.30 am from London Heathrow to Madrid, then by high-speed ‘AVE’ train to Zaragoza—a walk includes the basilica of El Pilar with ceiling paintings by the youthful Goya—overnight Zaragoza.
DAY 2: ZARAGOZA—the Fine Arts Museum hosts an exhibition ‘Goya in Italy’—a savings bank displays Goya works in its Plateresque patio—private visit to the Archbishop’s Palace to see Goya’s portrait of his predecessor—outside the city, the monastery of Aula Dei with Goya frescoes in its church—overnight Zaragoza.
DAY 3: FUENDETODOS, MADRID—drive to Fuendetodos, where Goya’s childhood home survives; the Museum of Etching contains his complete works—Goya’s ceiling paintings at the hermitage in Muel—train from Zaragoza to Madrid—visit the Prado, one of the greatest art galleries in the world—overnight Madrid.
DAY 4: MADRID—paintings and etchings by Goya at the Academy of San Fernando, his Francisco de Cabarrús at the Bank of Spain, further works in the 18th-cent. Basilica of San Francisco el Grande, more in the Lázaro Galdiano Museum—free time; option of the Royal Palace, which has works by Tiepolo, Mengs and Goya (may close without notice).
DAY 5: MADRID—return to the Prado; here is the largest collection of paintings by Goya, and the exhibition ‘Goya in times of war’—free afternoon; linger in the Prado, or time for Retiro Park or the Thyssen-Bornemisza Collection.
DAY 6: MADRID—visit the Royal Tapestry Factory where Goya worked as designer for twenty years—San Antonio de la Florida is filled with impressionistic works by Goya; the artist is buried here—fly to Heathrow, arriving c. 6.45 pm.
Price: £1,340 (deposit £200)–this includes: air travel (economy class) on scheduled British Airways flights (aircraft: Airbus 319), high-speed rail travel (AVE) between Madrid and Zaragoza (club class)–coach travel for airport transfers and excursions–accommodation as described below–breakfasts and 4 dinners with wine, water and coffee–admission to museums and exhibitions–gratuities for drivers, guides, waiters etc.–airport and state taxes–the services of the lecturer–single supplement £175–price without flights £1,240.
Dr Xavier Bray: art historian specialising in Spanish art and sculpture, currently Assistant Curator of 17th- and 18th-century European Paintings at the National Gallery, London–exhibitions co-curated include El Greco (2004), Caravaggio: the final years (2005) and Velazquez (2006).
Hotels: in Zaragoza (2 nights) modern, 4-star, comfortable and excellently situated–Madrid (3 nights) a small and excellently located hotel, walking distance from the major museums and opposite the Prado, rated locally as 4-star–dinners are at selected restaurants.
How strenuous? There is quite a lot of walking on this tour, and a lot of standing around in museums–average distance by coach per day: 15 miles.
Small group: between 10 and 22 participants.