GOYA Y LUCIENTES, Francisco de
(b. 1746, Fuendetodos, d. 1828, Bordeaux)
The Clothed Maja (La Maja Vestida)1800-03
Oil on canvas, 97 x 190 cm
Museo del Prado, Madrid
Though it was no doubt painted earlier, the first record of The Clothed Maja and the first mention of the paintings together is in an inventory of Godoy's collection dated 1 January 1808, where they are called 'gipsies'. In an article on Los Caprichos published in Cadiz in 1811, it is as Goya's Venuses that they are mentioned amongst his most admired works (they are also called Venuses in Goya's biography by his son). The next mention of the Majas is towards the end of 1814, when Goya was denounced to the Inquisition for being the author of two obscene paintings in the sequestrated collection of the Chief Minister Godoy, 'one representing a naked woman on a bed...and the other a woman dressed as a maja on a bed'. On 16 May 1815, the artist was summoned to appear before a Tribunal 'to identify them and to declare if they are his works, for what reason he painted them, by whom they were commissioned and what were his intentions'. Unfortunately Goya's declaration has not yet come to light.
As a pair of paintings of a single figure in an identical pose, the Majas are a highly original invention. The theory that the clothed woman was intended as a cover for the naked one is very credible. It is not surprising that the Majas attracted the attention of the Inquisition in Madrid in 1814. As late as 1865 Manet's Olympia (which bears such a close resemblance to The Naked Maja that it is difficult to believe that the artist had not seen Goya's painting) created a furious scandal when it was exhibited in the Paris Salon.