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Stirling, Ford, and nineteenth-century reception of Goya: The case of the <i>Santa Justa and Santa Rufina</i>: 'abomination' or 'appropriate composition'?

By H. Macartney

Abstract

This article considers an aspect of the complex relationship between the two best-known British Hispanophiles, Richard Ford and William Stirling, as the starting point for an examination of their response to Goya's art, in particular, his Santa Justa and Santa Rufina (1817, Seville Cathedral). In February 1845, William Stirling went to Spain to carry out further research for his Annals of the Artists of Spain (1848), taking with him one of the very few copies of the suppressed edition of Ford's Hand-Book for Spain (1845). Among the paintings he made notes on was Goya's Santa Justa and Santa Rufina, which Ford had attacked as a 'David-like abomination', claiming also that the models for the virgin martyrs were strumpets. Stirling disagreed with Ford's assessment, but, by the time his Annals were published in 1848, he had come much closer to Ford's view. The article ponders the reasons for Ford's attack on this work by Goya, and for Stirling's change of mind. Their assessment of the painting is also considered in the context of how much each knew about Goya's art at this time, including other examples of his works they saw or wrote about. Both writers reacted against the neo-classical aspects of the painting, and the article considers this in the light of Ceán Bermúdez's close involvement in this commission for Seville Cathedral, and his publication of a pamphlet on the painting in 1817. Stirling, however, became an important collector of Goya's works, some of which were illustrated or referred to in the Annals. His entry on the artist also incorporated other myths, in addition to that supplied by Ford, notably provided by Bartolomé José Gallardo and Théophile Gautier. Nevertheless, it was surprisingly balanced, and provided the most extensive and appreciative account of the artist in English by

Publisher: Maney Publishing
Year: 2007
OAI identifier: oai:eprints.gla.ac.uk:49689
Provided by: Enlighten

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