1794. Pen, Brown ink on verjured paper, 208 x 153 mm. Un exposed

Letter from Francisco de Goya to Martín Zapater (1746-1803), his childhood friend in Zaragoza, with enigmatic beginning, distorting the place and date of the mission. Makeup to María Teresa Cayetana de Silva, Duchess of Alba, and confidence in the pretence of painting her a full-length portrait. Sketching for the equestrian portrait of Manuel Godoy, Duke of Alcudia. Concern about the difficulties and political significance of the commission. News of the delegation of the task, initially entrusted to Francisco Bayeu, for his indisposition and trip to Zaragoza. Request to process the repayment of a loan, documented by receipt. Fired with the painter's cartoon.

This is one of the preserved letters of Goya's extensive correspondence, about one hundred and thirty-two known or preserved, with his Zaragozan childhood friend, Martín Zapater, which began in 1775 after the artist's final transfer to Madrid and concluded in October 1799. This correspondence is a true self-portrait of the painter, who in this intimate epistollary relationship reveals the warmest, humane and closest aspects of his personality, his simple tastes, his social ascent and his ambitions as an artist. The letter set out here also presents curiosity on the date of its heading, such as "2 August 1800" and written in "London". However, the news contained in the text relates to events that took place in August 1794, so it is safely placed in that month and year and sent from Madrid. At the beginning of the previous year Goya suffered during a trip to Andalusia the serious illness from which he became deaf, but began working again on his return to Madrid. In a communication from the spring of 1794, Francisco Bayeu, to questions from the management of the Tapestry Factory about whether Goya was already in a position to work, answered that "although it is certain that Don Francisco Goya has suffered a serious illness, it is also that he has validated something, and paints, though not with the teson and constancy that you love" (April 25, 1794). However, in the letter of 2 August, the artist referred to Bayeu having "fled the body" of a very important commission: the equestrian portrait of Godoy, then Duke of Alcudia, title with which the kings had honored him in May 1793. Goya, despite the lack of tesson blamed by his brother-in-law, had already painted a sketch and awaited the minister's orders to move to La Granja and execute the painting. The letter has a hunchous tone, of deep confidence with her interlocutor, to which she rams from the first lines, and to which goya gracefully invites her to help him paint the face of the Duchess of Alba, an ancirating that he would make her a full-length portrait, which would be hers dressed in white (Madrid , Liria Palace), painted the following year. Goya this time signs his letter not with his usual name and rubric but with a quick caricature of himself, to which he adds an explanation, "that's how I am…". It is difficult to know what he meant by it and what he expressed with his image, although the line of ellipsis continues precisely to the mouth of the artist, ajar and as if he had inflamed lower lip, whose prognathism, which appears more nuanced in the portraits of the painter, follows the expressive exaggerations characteristic of the caricature. It is possible that the artist wanted to tell his friend that his teeth hurt and that a soothing with the stick that holds between his fingers was being applied. On the other hand, that object could be a pencil holder and say with it that it was drawing, but it is so difficult to clarify the true meaning of the cartoon as the joke of the date and the place of sending the letter, since these are private and personal references that only the two friends could understand, which often happens in the rest of the letters. Goya's numerous self-portraits of this period help here to understand how the artist masterfully handled and altered his own factions in that crucial period of his life, immediately prior to the numerous and varied fissionomic deformations of the Caprichos characters. From the art of caricature, which was born in Italy in the classicist field of Annibale Carracci in the late sixteenth century, there are few examples of artists of the quality of Goya, whose ability to represent his fellowmen, his prodigious skill as a cartoonist and his sense of humor make him one of the most interesting artists of this genre. A contemporary reference possibly truthful, such as that of the bibliophile Bartholomew José Gallardo, who was able to meet Goya in the early nineteenth century (W. Stirling-Maxwell, Annals of the Artists of Spain, 1848), could illustrate this activity of the artist: "During the morning visit of his friends, he took (Goya) sands from the shuttle and spreading the contents on the table was amused by caricatures drawn with his deft finger in an instant […]The great matter, repeated with ever new variations, was Godoy to which he favored with particular antipathy".