Art Goya: The Portraits
To celebrate Credit Suisse's sponsorship of the landmark exhibition 'Goya: The Portraits' at the National Gallery in London, the bank is exploring the lives of the artist's subjects through mobile technology.
Central to Credit Suisse's support of the National Gallery – a collaboration that began in 2008 – is widening access to the arts, and a striking hoarding in Trafalgar Square, displaying a selection of Goya's portraits, is attracting the attention of passers-by.
The hoarding encourages you to 'bring Goya's portraits to life using your smartphone'. Users photograph Goya’s subjects displayed on the hoarding; image-recognition technology then generates exclusive audio guides about the sitters.
Each minute-long audio guide has been created by Credit Suisse to mark the first exhibition to focus solely on Goya's portraits, with the show running from 7 October 2015 until 10 January 2016. Once an audio guide has finished, the listener has the option of replaying it, exploring a different portrait, or finding out more about Credit Suisse’s partnership with the National Gallery.
The people behind Goya's portraits
This formidable-looking woman is Maria Antonia Gonzaga de Caracciolo, the Dowager Marchioness of Villafranca. At around the time Goya painted her in 1795 she was sixty years old and had been widowed for almost two decades. But she was evidently still interested in fashion, even if it was a little out of date. Her crimped and frizzed hairdo was a style that had been all the rage in Spain a decade earlier. It is clear The Dowager Marchioness was content with her look, however, and in sitting for Goya, she appears to have been fully conscious of her senior position within one of the best-connected aristocratic families in late 18th century Spain.
The National Gallery’s exhibition gathers many of her illustrious relatives. Along with the Dowager Marchioness herself you can meet her daughter, the Duchess of Altamira, her son, the Duke of Alba and her fabulously wealthy and powerful daughter-in-law, the Duchess of Alba – the subject of perhaps Goya’s most famous portrait which is here in London for the very first time.
Around half of Goya's surviving portraits feature in the exhibition, with pictures lent by private and public collections from Sao Paulo to New York, and from Stockholm to Mexico, alongside important loans from Madrid's Museo Nacional del Prado. A number of the portraits have never been hung before in a public gallery, having only been on display in the private homes of the descendants of the sitters.
The exhibition explores Goya's technical, stylistic, and psychological development as a portraitist, tracing his career from his early days at the court in Madrid, as well as his appointment as the First Painter to Charles IV, while becoming the favoured portraitist of the Spanish aristocracy.
In addition to Goya's life-sized paintings on canvas, the exhibition showcases his miniatures on copper and his fine black and red chalk drawings. Of all the portraits assembled for this exhibition, one which is bound to generate great interest is the iconic 'Duchess of Alba', which has only left the United States once before, and has never previously been displayed in Britain. Lent by the Hispanic Society of America in New York, the picture, painted in 1797, shows Goya's friend and patron as a 'maja', in a black costume and 'mantilla'.
The exhibition's curator, Dr Xavier Bray, intends that ‘Goya: The Portraits’ brings about a "reappraisal of Goya's status as one of the greatest portrait painters in art history.
“His innovative and unconventional approach took the art of portraiture to new heights through his ability to reveal the inner lives of his sitters, even in his grandest and most memorable formal portraits," said Dr Bray.
Credit Suisse's audio guides will serve as an introduction to some of those lives. Credit Suisse's commitment to the arts is reflected in its long collaboration with the National Gallery, which attracts more than 6.5 million visitors a year. The partnership provides funding for the Gallery's exhibitions and educational programmes, as well as its late-night opening programme.
Garrett Curran, the CEO of Credit Suisse in the United Kingdom, said: "We are delighted to support the National Gallery's 'Goya: The Portraits', which is the first exhibition to focus solely on Goya's work as a portraitist and will give visitors a rare opportunity to witness the significant changes that took place in European political and social history as well as its key protagonists during Goya's long life."
Dr Gabriele Finaldi, Director of the National Gallery, said: "This exhibition constitutes the best possible survey of portraits by one of the most profound and incisive painters to ever put brush to canvas. Goya's gaze pierces through outward appearances and reveals human frailty, fortitude, folly, and wisdom."