A Giant Seated in a Landscape, sometimes called 'The Colossus'
Goya (Francisco de Goya y Lucientes) (Spanish, Fuendetodos 1746–1828 Bordeaux)
Burnished aquatint with scraping and strokes of 'lavis' added along the top of the landscape and within the landscape
Plate: 11 3/16 × 8 3/16 in. (28.4 × 20.8 cm)
Harris Brisbane Dick Fund, 1935
Not on view
One of Goya’s most striking images, the implicit subject of this work is unclear. A giant seated in a landscape turns his head over his shoulder as if he has been disturbed from thought. Perhaps he had been awaiting the dawning of a new day and turns because the moment has come. The Spanish master produced this print using burnished aquatint to achieve subtle effects of light and dark—an apt technique for depicting a crepuscular atmosphere and conveying the sense of unease that pervades the composition.
It is not known exactly when Goya made this print. It has been dated to around 1800 or ‘by 1818'. There is a close relationship between the print and the famous painting of the 'Colossus' in the Museo del Prado, Madrid. Both works show the same figure. The painting has always been attributed to Goya, but in 2008 it was assigned by the Prado Museum as a studio work and not by the master himself. There is no consensus and disagreement continues. The print is critical in the debate about the authorship of the painting. If the painting is a studio work then the artist borrowed the figure of Colossus from Goya’s print. Given his imagination and originality, it seems highly unlikely that Goya would borrow the figure from someone else’s painting to use in his print.
Marking: Provenance: Sanchez Gerona (1874-1937), Madrid. Director of the Calcografía Nacional. This information appears in a note in the MMA catalogue of the Provot sale, written in Ivins hand.
Georges Provot, Paris, his important collection of Goya prints was sold at Hotel Drouot on 10 April 1935, no marks. The MMA purchased this impression with Colnaghi acting as their agent.
April 10, 1935 Hôtel Drouot, Paris, lot 29; Georges Provôt (active before 1935); Vendor: P. & D. Colnaghi & Co.
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. "Goya and the Spirit of Enlightenment," January 18, 1989–March 26, 1989.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Goya and the Spirit of Enlightenment," May 9, 1989–July 16, 1989.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "The Power of Prints: The Legacy of William M. Ivins and A. Hyatt Mayor," January 26, 2016–May 22, 2016.
A. Hyatt Mayor "Goya's Giant." in The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, vol. 30, no. 8, New York, August 1935, pp. 153-54, ill.
William M. Ivins Jr. "Goya's Giant." in Metropolitan Museum Studies. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, vol. 5, no. 2, New York, September 1936, p. 182, ill.
Tomás Harris Goya: Engravings and Lithographs Vol. I: Text and Illustrations; Vol.II: Catalogue Raisonné. Oxford, 1964, cat. no. 29.I, ill.
A. Hyatt Mayor Prints & People: A Social History of Printed Pictures. New York, 1971 (reprinted 1980), fig. no. 630, ill.
Eleanor Sayre, Sue Welsh Reed The Changing Image: Prints by Francisco Goya. Exh. cat. Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Boston, 1974, cat. no. 231, ill.
Alfonso E. Pérez Sánchez, Eleanor Sayre Goya and the Spirit of Enlightenment. Exh. cat. Museo del Prado, October 6-December 18, 1988 ; Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, January 18-March 26, l989 ; Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, May 9-July 16, 1989 (English edition). Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Boston, 1988, cat. no. 117, p. 258, ill.