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28.7.03

When a Goya is no longer a Goya

What will happen to the teaching of art history if Goya did not actually paint the Black Paintings on the walls of his estate Quinta del Sordo? This is exactly what an archival historian in Madrid, Juan Jose Junquera, believes (see the article by Arthur Lubow in Sunday's New York Times Magazine but note that Junquera did not state his theory about the misattribution in his book The Black Paintings of Goya, which will be released in the United States in November). I have been showing Goya's Saturn and The Dog to my Humanities class every year since I began teaching it. Junquera believes that these paintings are not examples of how Goya, in his deaf old age, seemed to paint with an uncannily "modern" eye but may actually have been painted later in the 19th century after Goya was dead. The same thing happens when musicologists question the attribution of a favorite piece of music, but this mostly occurs with Renaissance composers, whose biographies often have more questions than answers. I am amazed that no one has challenged the documentation of these paintings until now. How many other misattributed great works are out there?

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