Goya’s legacy as seen through Glendinning’s eyes


Tesoros del Museo de Bellas Artes de Bilbao, Pintura: 1400-1939 (CCA.65.118)

Over 400 new titles from the library of Professor Nigel Glendinning have been added to Cambridge University Library’s collections since they were donated in 2013.

Works on the Spanish Old Master Francisco de Goya (1746-1828) and, to a lesser extent, his predecessor Diego Velázquez (1599-1660) feature prominently in this collection.  Exhibition catalogues on European art and monographic works on 20th century art and architecture in Britain are also present. Some examples include: Ten years of British architecture, ’45-’55: an Arts Council exhibition (CCC.65.156); Modern British prints: 1914-1960 (CCC.65.105); The captured imagination: drawings by Joan Miró from the Fundació Joan Miró (CCA.65.23).

A significant number of books discuss art in the Zaragoza province (Aragón, Spain) where Francisco de Goya was born —Academicismo y enseñanza de las Bellas Artes en Zaragoza durante el siglo XVIII  (CCC.65.78); Colecciones y coleccionistas aragoneses en los siglos XVII, XVIII y XIX (CCC.65.100).

The region of Aragón is very proud of its links to Francisco de Goya, and rightly so. Goya worked as a court painter between 1786 and the early 1820s. He served three successive kings (Charles III, Charles IV and Ferdinand VII). His art influenced many 19th and 20th century artists for its innovation and freedom of expression. He took on many different painting styles, embraced new techniques with ease and, to his credit, he is widely recognized as the artist who best represented the internal contradictions of Spain’s transition from the Old Regime to Liberalism.

Perhaps one of the most interesting aspects of this collection is the presence of a large number of exhibition catalogues and monographic works from regional or private museums and art galleries in Spain which would not have been distributed widely when originally published (some examples include: Museo Municipal de Madrid, Museo Provincial de Bellas Artes de Cádiz, Museo del Grabado Español Contemporáneo de Marbella, Real Fábrica de Tabacos de Sevilla, Palacio de Pedralbes, Banco Nacional de San Carlos, Museo de Zaragoza, amongst many others). Some representative examples include: Tesoros del Museo de Bellas Artes de Bilbao: pintura, 1400-1939 (CCA.65.118); Goya grabador: Museo del Grabado Español Contemporáneo, Marbella (CCA.65.33); Goya: retratos para la Real Fábrica de Tabacos de Sevilla (CCA.65.134); La estela de Goya: discípulos y seguidores interpretan la obra del maestro: Museo del Grabado [Fuendetodos] (CCC.65.108); Goya y el Banco Nacional de San Carlos: retratos de los primeros directores y accionistas (CCA.65.1).

Professor Nigel Glendinning (1929-2013) was an acclaimed authority on Francisco de Goya. He is best known for his work Goya and his critics (405:43.b.95.7) although he will probably be best remembered for his world-class research on Spanish art and literature. Glendinning was interested in all aspects of Goya’s art, but in particular on his black paintings and monochrome drawings and etchings, which appear in stark contrast with the artist’s earlier royal commissions. In his library, we find some representative works to this effect: Las pinturas negras de Goya (CCC.65.104); Pinturas negras y apocalipticas de Goya (CCC.65.46);  Francisco de Goya, grabador : instantaneas (CCF.65.6(1-4)).

In 1792-1793, after suffering from a severe illness which left him deaf, Goya’s art took a radical turn. He produced over 300 etchings and lithographs which would consolidate his reputation as a masterful printmaker. Professor Glendinning’s library was particularly strong on Goya’s four series of prints from this period: the Caprichos (Caprices), Tauromaquia (Bullfighting), Desastres de la Guerra (Disasters of War), and Disparates (The Follies).

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The Caprichos (published in 1799, 80 prints) expose the vice and corruption of Spanish society and the Catholic Church. The engravings are accompanied by short ironic commentaries describing human errors and vices, superstition and extravagance– see: El libro de los caprichos, Francisco de Goya… catálogo de los dibujos, pruebas de estado, láminas de cobre y estampas de la primera edición (CCF.65.3).

The Bullfighting series (published in 1816, 33 prints), depicts a series of bullfighting scenes—see: Tauromaquia: primera tirada. Madrid 1816 (CCA.65.153); “La Tauromaquia” (CCA.65.81).

The Desastres (published in 1863, 88 prints) are an account of the Spanish War of independence (1808-1814) depicting the horrors of war—see The disasters of war:  85 aquatint etchings by Francisco de Goya (CCC.65.174).

The Follies (published in 1864, 22 prints), also known as Proverbs, illustrate political issues, proverbs and the Spanish carnival—see Goya: los disparates, presented by the J. Paul Getty Museum (CCA.65.192); Disparates, Francisco de Goya: tres visiones (CCF.65.4).

Professor Glendinning, an avid collector of rare texts and first editions, left an enduring legacy for future generations of reserarchers. To celebrate his career, the Centre of Hispanic Europe Studies, ARTES and the Glendinning family established the Nigel Glendinning Doctoral Studentship in Spanish Studies at King’s College Cambridge, where he read French and Spanish and wrote his PhD thesis on the Spanish writer José de Cadalso.

Sonia Morcillo

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