In 1823, fearful of the uncertain political situation in Spain, Goya deeded his famous house, the Quinta del Sordo, to his grandson, Mariano. It was there that he had recently painted a series of fantastic murals, known as the Black Paintings (now in the Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid). The following year the seventyeight-year-old, widowed artist obtained a leave of absence from Ferdinand VII on the pretext of visiting a spa in France and went instead to Bordeaux to join fellow Spanish exiles. An old friend, the playwright Leandro Fernández de Moratín, reported his arrival in a letter of June 30:
In effect, Goya has arrived, deaf, old, clumsy and weak, and without knowing a word of French and without bringing a servant (which no one needs more than he) and so content and so desirous of seeing the world.
Goya continued on to Paris, where he spent the summer, and was back in Bordeaux by September. His companion, Leocadia Zorrilla y Weiss, forty-two years his junior, and her two children, Rosario and Guillermo, ages ten and fourteen, joined him there. Until the artist’s death on April 16, 1828, they lived together in the cosmopolitan port city. Goya returned twice to Madrid (an arduous seven-day journey) to visit his only child, Javier, his daughter-in-law, Gumersinda, and his beloved grandson. Although displaced and in frail health, Goya produced a diverse body of work in his last years: portraits in oil, expressive crayon drawings, lithographs, and amazing improvisations on tiny chips of ivory. The examples of Goya’s triumphant final legacy presented here attest to his unflagging creative powers and tremendous will to live through his art as he faced death.
Principal funding for Goya's Last Works has been provided by the Robert Lehman Foundation, with major support from Merrill Lynch; Melvin R. Seiden in honor of Jonathan Brown and Susan Grace Galassi; The Widgeon Point Charitable Foundation; Mr. and Mrs. Walter A. Eberstadt; The Samuel H. Kress Foundation; and The Getty Grant Program of The J. Paul Getty Trust. The catalogue has been generously underwritten by Lawrence and Julie Salander and made possible, in part, by Furthermore: A Program of the J. M. Kaplan Fund. Support for scholarly programming has been provided by the Arthur Ross Foundation. Additional support has been provided by The Helen Clay Frick Foundation and the Fellows of The Frick Collection.
This exhibition is also supported by an indemnity from the Federal Council on the Arts and Humanities.