Spain: Commemorating Goya

Spain is the home of many world renown artists including Diego Velazque, Salvador Dali and of course, Pablo Picasso – all of which have been celebrated on Spanish postal stamp issues. Another to have appeared more than once is Francisco José Goya. Indeed, Goya was the first artist to be commemorated on a Spanish postal stamp issue of 15 June 1930, his death centenary. Goya is widely considered the most important Spanish artist of the late 18th and early 19th centuries and celebrated as one of the last of the Old Masters and one of the first of the New Modern era.

Goya was born on 30 March 1746 and studied painting from an early age, becoming the court painter to the Spanish Crown. Goya remained in Madrid during the 1807-14 Peninsular War against the French led by Napoleon. The war affected him deeply and is believed to have influenced his penchant for portrayals of a dark nature including the Disasters and War series and paintings concerned with insanity, asylums, fantastical creatures and corruption, for which he is most known today.

The 1930 issue comprises standard postage stamps with denominations ranging from 1c to 10p employing three very recognisable designs. Two of the designs feature an image captured in the 1826 portrait painting by Vicent López Portaña, just a couple of years before Goya’s death. These two stamp designs differ only subtly in the frame design and were used on no less than fourteen denominations from 1c to 1p.

Spain 1930 10c stamp featuring Goya
Spain 1930 10c featuring Goya
1826 portrait of Goya by Vicent López Portaña
1826 portrait of Goya by Vicent López Portaña

A further three denominations of 1p, 4p and 10p feature one of Goya’s most noted paintings, The Naked Maja – one of a pair of paintings (one featuring the model clothed, the other naked) completed during the artists middle period 1790-1800. It has been described as ‘the first totally profane life-size female nude in Western art’ and in 1813 the Spanish Inquisition confiscated both works as ‘obscene’. The stamp also features the text ‘QUINTA DE GOYA’ in the top left, a reference to the country home of Goya situated on a hill in the old municipality of Carabanchel on the outskirts of Madrid. It was here that Goya painted the Black Paintings comprising fourteen murals, portraying intense, haunting themes, reflective of both his fear of insanity and his bleak outlook on humanity.

Spain 1930 10p stamp featuring The Naked Maja by Goya
Spain 1930 10p featuring The Naked Maja by Goya

Also in the 1930 issue are thirteen Airmail stamps ranging in denominations from 5c to 10p featuring numerous Goya artworks from a substantial backlog of fantasy etchings published towards the end of the 18th century. Goya described the works as depicting “the innumerable foibles and follies to be found in any civilised society, and from the common prejudices and deceitful practices which custom, ignorance or self-interest have made usual”. The images include Volavérunt (They have flown) (1p, 4p, 10p), Disparate Volante (Flying Folly) (5c, 15c, 25c), Asmodeus and Cleofas (5c, 10c, 20c, 40c), and Manera de Volar (A Way of Flying) (30c, 50c, 4p).

Spain 1930 10c stamp featuring Asmodeus and Cleofas by Goya
Spain 1930 10c featuring Asmodeus and Cleofas by Goya
Spain 1930 15c stamp featuring Disparate Volante (Flying Folly) by Goya
Spain 1930 15c featuring Disparate Volante (Flying Folly) by Goya
Spain 1930 1p stamp featuring Volavérunt (They have flown) by Goya
Spain 1930 1p featuring Volavérunt (They have flown) by Goya

Goya retired to the French city of Bordeaux in 1824 and, following a stroke that left him paralysed on the right side, he died on 16 April 1828. Goya featured again on a Spanish postal stamp issue of 1958 celebrating Stamp Day and commemorating 130 years since his death with further images from many of his most noted paintings.

To view postal issues of the Spain, please visit the M&S Philately HipStamp store.

Published by nigelmandsphilatelycom

Nigel Matthews has been a philatelist for more than 30 years. He has a particular interest in the postal history of the Caribbean including associated British Commonwealth countries (incl. Bahamas, Barbados, Bermuda, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Dominica, Grenada, Jamaica, Leeward Islands, Monserrat, St Lucia, St Vincent, Trinidad & Tobago, Turks & Caicos) as well as Cuba, Danish West Indies, Guadeloupe, Haiti, Dominican Republic, Martinique, Netherlands Antilles and Puerto Rico.

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