- Museum number
Object: Ruinas del interior de la yglesia del Hospital General de Nuestra Senora de Gracia
Series: Ruinas de Zaragoza (Ruins of Saragossa)
Square tower visible through archway of ruined church; carter collecting casualties foreground left.
- Production date
Height: 294 millimetres
Width: 401 millimetres
- Curator's comments
- On 15 June 1808 the French Napoleonic army commanded by General Lefebvre laid siege to Saragossa. They were fiercely opposed by 6000 Spaniards led into Saragossa by General José de Palafox y Melzi, who due to his brave actions became a national hero. The assault on the city lasted until August 13 when the French were forced to lift the siege and retreat having destroyed large parts of the city.
Fernando Brambila and Juan Gálvez were among the artists who went to Saragossa to record the destruction after the city was destroyed by the French army. Goya also recorded his impressions. They returned to Madrid in November 1808 to work their material into a series of prints. Progress was interrupted by the second French occupation of the city when they decided to go to Cadiz where their project was taken up by the Academy of Fine Arts. The prints appeared finally in 1812 (J. Vega, 'Museo del Prado. Catálogo de estampas', Madrid, 1992).
The series consists of 36 prints of different sizes. 'Doce grande de a pliego, representan el estrago causado por las bombas en los principales edificios de la ciudad; otras doce medianas, ruinas de diferente género y diversos encuentros interesantes; en fin, doce mas prequeñas seran retratos de los patriotas mas señalados en aquella defensa, sacados de natural, con el trage y armas que heoricamente usaban, y puestos en accion en las lances que mas nombre les dieron.' Eleven show personages who defended Saragossa under siege from the Napoleonic army, the remainder views of destroyed buildings. Six examples of the personages and eight of the buildings are in the BM (1899,0714.164/177).
The prints were published in instalments of three prints on the last day of each month. Each set had one print is each size. The series is remarkable for the Romantic aesthetic of the sublime horror they express. The ruins themselves are an expression of the violence wrought on Spain in general. The aquatint medium imparts a surreal sense to the prints. The stark contrasts of light and dark underscore the physical damage. Large areas are plunged into darkness evocative of an underworld of chaos. Brightly lit open areas illuminate figures. In all of the prints depicting the ruins are groups of people. Some mourn the fallen, carry away the dead and the wounded, others begin the task of clearing the debris. The human conditions of sorrow contrast with the determination to rebuild and emerge from the ashes.
See also comment under 1899,0713.164.
For discussion of the series see M. McDonald, 'Renaissance to Goya: prints drawing from Spain', exh. cat., British Museum London 2012, pp.251-54.
- Not on display
- Associated events
- Associated Event: Peninsular War 1808-1814
- Acquisition date
- Prints and Drawings
- Registration number