For years, Spain’s famed Prado museum had its suspicions about one of its most prized Goyas. Now the museum says it is certain the painting is not by the 18th century master.
The Prado’s announcement about “Colossus,” a large oil painting depicting the torso of a giant bursting through the clouds as he marches above a terrified village, is causing a furor among experts, some of whom still believe the painting is genuine.
Francisco de Goya y Lucientes’ “Colossus” has always been one of the Prado’s major attractions and a highlight of his series on Spain’s war against Napoleon, whose troops invaded in 1808. Doubts about its authenticity began to surface in the early 1990s and grew in April when the museum unexpectedly excluded the painting from its blockbuster show “Goya in Times of War.”
The museum, which continues to display the work in its Goya rooms, says fresh studies indicate the “Colossus” might be the work of a minor painter, Asensio Julia, a pupil and a workshop assistant of Goya’s. One of the most significant findings, it says, are what appear to be Julia’s initials at the bottom of the painting.
But Nigel Glendinning, a leading British art historian and Goya expert, said he still thinks the painting is by Goya. He dismissed the museum’s argument about the crude style of the work, saying Goya rarely went for specific details in his paintings, often preferring broad and rough brush strokes.