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Masterpieces

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Portrait of Martín Zapater

Francisco de Goya

Fuendetodos, Zaragoza, 1746-Bordeaux, France, 1828

Portrait of Martín Zapater

Oil on canvas, 83 x 65 cm

1797

Ramón de la Sota y Aburto bequest, 1980

A great friend of Goya’s since they were at the Pious Schools together in Saragossa, Martín Zapater (1746-1803), a man of the Enlightenment and a member of the Royal Academy of Fine Arts of San Fernando, was honoured by Charles III with the title of Nobleman of Aragon for his generosity. He became a successful tradesman and kept up an abundant correspondence with Goya that is extremely revealing of the painter’s personality. This portrait was painted in 1797, seven years after a previous portrait of Zapater, at a time when Goya was successfully established in Madrid. Still presenting a certain Neoclassical aftertaste, it portrays a mature and healthy-looking Zapater. Goya focuses all his attention on the face, with its prominent nose (not in vain did he call it a narigón or big nose) and frank and direct gaze. Goya has captured his friend’s expressiveness and his distinct and open personality. At a later date the canvas was cut into an oval shape, in the Romantic taste. Francisco de Goya trained as a painter in Saragossa, from where he moved to Madrid in 1775. A protégé of Bayeu’s at court, he excelled in all genres. His extraordinary talent as a portraitist made him the favourite painter among the nobility and the monarchs Charles III, Charles IV and Ferdinand VII, from whose fierce repression against the liberals he flew in 1824. At the age of seventy-eight he settled in Bordeaux, where he would die four years later. [A.S.L.]

Masterpieces