GOYA Y LUCIENTES, Francisco de
(b. 1746, Fuendetodos, d. 1828, Bordeaux)

The Yard of a Madhouse

Oil on tinplate, 43,8 x 31,7 cm
Meadows Museum, Dallas

While he was recovering from the serious illness that left him totally deaf, Goya occupied himself with a series of 'cabinet' paintings which he sent to the Academy and which won approval as scenes of 'national pastimes'. A few days later, he followed these with a twelfth painting of a very different character, which he described in detail in a letter to the Director. The rediscovery of this picture in 1967 provided a touchstone for the identification of the rest of the set of cabinet pictures that Goya had sent to the Academy which are now considered to include subjects such as a Shipwreck and a Fire hardly to be described as national pastimes as well as Strolling Players, and possibly a group of Bullfight scenes.

The Madhouse and other small paintings now in the Academy, once thought to have been among the scenes of so-called national pastimes are now generally attributed to a considerably later date, for stylistic reasons. The Yard of a Madhouse is one of many scenes Goya recorded that he had actually witnessed, among them some of the war scenes in the Desastres (with the titles 'I saw this' and 'this too'). Many of his etchings and drawings testify to his concern for the plight of lunatics and prisoners throughout his life. See, for instance, the drawing of a madman behind bars made in Bordeaux.