- Museum number
Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington; head and shoulders slightly to left, looking to front. 1812
Red chalk over black chalk and graphite
Verso: Friar Juan Fernández de Rojas; head to left with eyes closed and mouth slightly open, scarf across head
Black chalk and graphite
- Production date
Height: 235 millimetres
Width: 177 millimetres
- Curator's comments
- Modified text from McDonald 2013
This remarkable study depicts Arthur Wellesley, the future Duke of Wellington, who was the commander of the British forces in Spain and Portugal when Spain and her allies fought to expel the French during the War of Independence (1808-14). Wellington led an important British victory on 22 July 1812 when the army routed the French at the Battle of Arapiles near Salamanca. The duke arrived in Madrid on August 12 as the French, who had occupied the city since 1808, began to leave.
Goya's drawing shows him exhausted and weakened from the campaign. He wears an expression of resignation and there is no sense of triumph or pride in his considerable military success. The drawing is preparatory for his equestrian portrait now at Apsley House, London, painted while Wellington was in Madrid over one of Manuel Godoy or perhaps Joseph Bonaparte (I. Rose-de Viejo, E. La Parra López & E. Giménez López, 'La imagen de Manuel Godo'y, Mérida 2001). The painting was exhibited in September 1812 in the Real Academia de Bellas Artes de San Fernando. The drawing also served as the basis for another half length portrait of Wellington (National Gallery, London), and Goya evidently also intended to use it for a print, since the paper shows a strong platemark (the result of the sheet being wrapped around the plate), while the space below the drawing would allow for an inscription. Juliet Wilson-Bareau suggests that the darker penumbra around the sitter’s head might indicate that the original intention was for an oval portrait that was then worked up to a rectangular form (Wilson-Bareau 2008). Goya conceived of the drawing as an independent study in which he strove to capture the essence of the sitter.
On the back is a study attributed to Goya in black chalk and graphite of Fray Juan Fernández de Rojas, identified by an inscription not by the artist but possibly that of Valentín Carderera, an early collector of Goya's work. The drawing is very similar to another black chalk study of a head in agony signed and dated by Goya 1818 (Museo del Prado, Madrid) that was used a model for a painting of the last communion of San José de Calasanz (Church of San Antón, Madrid).
The drawing was acquired by the British Museum with a letter by Goya's grandson, Mariano, in which he mentions discovering it hidden by Goya with other prints. He describes the drawing 'Un dibujo hecho en Alba de Tormes despues de la batalla de Arapiles del Duque de Weelingthon [sic] por el q.e se hizo el retrato' (1862,0712.186). Both the letter and the drawing are annotated by Valentín Carderera. His inscription beneath the portrait of Wellington identifies both the sitter and the preparatory function of the drawing.
This drawing was issued as a coloured facsimile by the British Museum in 'Reproductions of Drawings by Old Masters in the British Museum', Part III, Published by the Trustees, in 1893 where it was number XVII and described there as 'Francisco Goya, Portrait of the Duke of Wellington.'
P. Gassier and J. Wilson, 'Goya: His Life and Work with a Catalogue Raisonné of the Paintings, Drawings and Engravings', London 1971, no.898; P. Gassier, 'The Drawings of Goya, I: The Complete Album's, London 1973, no.19; Eleanor Sayre in A.E. Pérez Sánchez and E.A. Sayre (eds), 'Goya and the Spirit of Enlightenment', exh. cat., Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid, Museum of Fine Art, Boston, and Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York 1989, no. 97; Juliet Wilson-Bareau in 'Goya en tiempos de Guerra', ed. M. B. Mena Marqués, exh. cat., Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid 2008, no.79; M. P. McDonald, 'Renaissance to Goya: Prints and drawings from Spain', exh.cat., British Museum, London 2012, p.251; M. P. McDonald, 'El trazo español en el British Museum: Dibujos del Renacimiento a Goya', exh. cat., Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid 2013, cat.no.63.
- Not on display
- Exhibition history
1965, BM, 'Masterpieces of the Print Room'
1972, BM, 'The Art of Drawing', no.344
1974, July-Dec, BM, 'Portrait Drawings', no.325
1976, BM, 'Spanish Drawings'
1980 Oct-Dec, Hamburger Kunsthalle, 'Goya', no.268A
1984, BM, 'Master Drawings and Watercolours in the BM', no.153
1988 Sep-Dec, Madrid, Museo del Prado, 'Goya', no.97
1994/5 Nov-Jan, Lisbon, Gulbenkian Galleries, 'Portugal & Great Britain', no.184
2006/7 Oct-Jan, London, Apsley House, 'The Duke and the artist: Wellington and Goya', no.2
2008 April-July, Madrid, Museo Nacional del Prado, 'Goya in times of War'
2009 July-Oct, Edinburgh, NG of Scotland, 'Imagining Spain...'
2012/13 Sept-Jan, London, British Museum, 'Renaissance to Goya: Prints and Drawings from Spain'
2013 March-June, Madrid, Museo Nacional del Prado, 'El trazo español en el British Museum …'
2013, Aug-Nov, Sydney, AGNSW, 'Renaissance to Goya'
2013-4, Dec-Mar, Santa Fe, New Mexico Museum of Modern Art, 'Renaissance to Goya'
2015 Oct-2016 Jan, London, National Gallery, 'Goya's Portraits'
- Acquisition date
- Prints and Drawings
- Registration number