Goya, star of the new exhibition hall of the Bank of Spain

The veins, the tendons, the bones of whitish hands, untouched by manual labor, made to manage economic power. Francisco de Goya painted in 1785 the hands of José de Toro-Zambrano y Ureta “with a anatomical perfection in the first portrait commissioned by the Banco de San Carlos for this manager of the entity ”, highlighted this Wednesday the art historian Manuela Mena, perhaps the most authoritative voice on the work of the Aragonese artist, in the presentation of the shows that she would curate with Yolanda Romero and with which the Bank of Spain opens a permanent exhibition hall at its headquarters in Madrid. King Felipe has inaugurated this exhibition, entitled 2328 real fleece. Goya and the origins of the Banco de España Collection , which can be visited until 26 February 2022 and its protagonist is the genius of Fuendetodos and the five portraits commissioned by the institution. The BE did not show these works to the public since 1982.

Yolanda Romero has explained that this new space, which the BE wants to be another link in the Paseo del Arte, next to the Prado, Thyssen or Reina Sofía Museums, “is in the heart of the bank, in the original entrance, under the clock”, and it is accessed through the chamfer that overlooks the Plaza de Cibeles. It is a free cultural offer, for which you have to reserve a ticket on the bank’s website. The exhibition, whose title responds to the payment made to Goya for the De Toro-Zambrano painting, “is the first step to share the artistic and documentary collection.” On this occasion, from 1782, when the Banco de San Carlos was founded, to 1833, when it was renamed Banco de España, after the merger between Banco de San Fernando, which had happened to of San Carlos, and that of Isabel II. The BE collection totals “about 4. 000 pieces and there are already exhibitions scheduled until 2024 ″ added Romero.

When Goya painted these commissions, he was not yet the recognized master that he would later become, “although he had entered the San Fernando Academy of Fine Arts by acclamation, in 1780, ”Mena pointed out. Perhaps for this reason, the 10 . 10 real fleece that he pocketed for his work “does not suppose that he was paid particularly well”, according to Romero, who interrupts his explanation by the chime of one of the three precious clocks, two of them table, that are in the exhibition, “and that it cost 1. 500 real to the bank ”, he adds to compare its price with what was delivered to the artist. They are the clocks that the directors of the entity heard when they dispatched and made decisions.

Retrato de Goya de José de Toro-Zambrano y Ureta.
Portrait of Goya by José de Toro-Zambrano y Ureta.

Serrano also recalled that for a time Goya lost the authorship of these portraits because they were saved and were not signed. It took more than a century for, in 1900, the bank could demonstrate thanks to the books in which they were noted down the orders and payments that were yours. The main room of the exhibition is presided over by the courtly portrait of José Moñino y Redondo, first count of Floridablanca, in which the Aragonese painter was included, in profile and at a smaller size, next to the character, fundamental in the creation of the bank. “It is something very rare, but it means that Goya already had a knowledge of his value as an artist.”

Mena stressed that in these canvases an evolution of Goya can be seen, “drier in the early portraits ”, to the dazzling oil painting by Francisco de Cabarrús, from 1788, last by the author of The naked maja for the bank. In it he painted Cabarrús full-length, “with a silk suit, apple green, the color that symbolizes money, and his tripon, which indicates that, although it ennobled the portrayed, he entered the character.” He also dared to do this with King Carlos III, in a portrait of 1786, commissioned by the bank , in which he showed the monarch with marked wrinkles on his face, tanned by the sun of hunting days, which contrasts with the white forehead, which was usually covered by a hat, and hanging fur on the neck. They are always works with symbols, as in the painting by Francisco Javier de Larumbe y Rodríguez, by 1787, half-length, who in the left hand holds the staff of the bank directors while the right is hidden in the jacket, “the gesture of the characters with intellectual interests.”

There is a space in the exhibition dedicated to the historian Juan Agustín Ceán Bermúdez, also painted by Goya, who as a senior officer of the Secretariat was the one who had the right to commission the portraits from the Aragonese. As Mena contemplates these works, she has no doubt that Goya “had soaked up Velázquez.”

In addition to the goyas, the tour includes “Works that were part of the bank’s oratory, which were installed for employees to hear mass,” added Serrano; a way to prevent officials from wasting time from work. Among them stands out the Virgen del lirio , by Cornelis van Cleve, of approximately 1550, which the bank acquired in 1787, and a molten silver cross presiding over official oaths.

Vicente Joaquín Osorio de Moscoso y Guzmán Fernández de Córdoba y la Cerda, XIII conde de Altamira, por Francisco de Goya (1786).
Vicente Joaquín Osorio de Moscoso and Guzmán Fernández de Córdoba y la Cerda, XIII Count of Altamira, by Francisco de Goya (1786).

Along with art, several showcases display almost a hundred documents from the BE Historical Archive, some fundamental to the history of the institution, such as the real certificate of 1782 by which he created the bank , then a corporation with private capital; the illuminated cover of the first book of agreements of the meetings and copies of the first issue of banknotes in Spain, of March 1, 1783, designed with delicate watermarks and with the particularity that, like today, each value had a different color, “a novelty that the Banco de San Carlos incorporated,” says Romero.

Among the decorative elements, the ballot box of the Banco de Isabel II, used for the entity’s leaders to vote on decisions. And a furniture symbol of power, the memorial table of the Council of Ministers from the time of Fernando VII, with eight drawers, one per minister. “Its small size suggests that the meetings should not last long,” says Serrano. Something logical if the one who had the last word was the absolutist Fernando VII, who appears portrayed by Vicente López Portaña with a bloated face, months before he died in 1833.

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