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Goya: The Witches and Old Women Album

Goya: The Witches and Old Women Album


One of the masterpieces of The Courtauld Gallery’s collection of Spanish drawings is a sheet known as Cantar y bailar (Singing and dancing), page 3 from Goya’s Album D, also known as the ‘Witches and Old Women’ album. Bringing together all the extant album pages, currently numbered up to 23, this catalogue proposes a reconstruction of the album that would include the sheets from which Goya’s page numbers have been erased or trimmed away. 


Goya began to create ‘journal albums’ of drawings relatively late in life, after the shattering illness that left him stone deaf before the age of fifty. It was a practice he would sustain until his death, creating eight albums (named with letters A to H) that originally included a total of some 550 drawings. Visually, technically and intellectually coherent, these albums are unified in their discrete techniques and types of support, and paginated (after the first). In these album pages Goya committed to paper his views, with or without written comments, on human nature and the world around him. Each album has its own distinctive subject matter, style and technique. 


The later history of the eight albums, already expertly chronicled, remains under investigation. The disbound album sheets were remounted in large volumes by Goya’s son, then sold en bloc by his grandson. Following their final dispersal by Federico de Madrazo and Valentín Carderera in the 1860s and 1870s, many gaps remain in all the albums. 


This exhibition and the research underpinning it on Album D are the pilot for an international project for the reconstruction of Goya’s graphic oeuvre. The publication will test the extent of Album D and explore the possible sequence and thematic coherence of the sheets. The individual Album D drawings will be reproduced as a proposed reconstructed sequence, each with detailed catalogue entry and technical information. In addition, the publication will define the context of the album by including a number of closely related works by Goya. 


  • Juliet Wilson-Bareau and Stephanie Buck

    Paperback, 260 x 216 m

    200 pages, 150 colour illus.
    ISBN: 978 1 907372 76 6

  • In the press

    ***** "Supreme scholarship … a small show, but a gargantuan achievement." —Evening Standard 


    **** "Wickedly brilliant … remarkable." —Telegraph


    "Extraordinary" —Guardian 


    “Superb” —The Times


    "Fascinating and thrilling" —Independent  


    "Meticulously enlightening catalogue" —Art Newspaper 


    "The admirable scholarship which lies behind the show are kept for the catalogue." —Apollo


    "Once seen, never forgotten." —New York Review of Books


  • Exhibition

    Accompanies an exhibition at The Courtauld Gallery, London, 
    Opens 26 February 2015

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