Allegory of the City of Madrid

Francisco Goya
Keywords: AllegoryCityMadrid

Work Overview

Allegory of the City of Madrid
Francisco Goya
Original Title: Alegoría de la Ciudad de Madrid
Date: 1810
Style: Romanticism
Genre: allegorical painting
Media: oil, canvas
Dimensions: 195 x 260 cm
Location: Museo de Historia de Madrid, Madrid, Spain

At the end of 1809, during the French occupation of Madrid, Goya was chosen as 'el pintor madrileno por excelencia' to paint a portrait of Joseph Bonaparte for the City Council. In the absence of the French King, Goya composed this picture, described at the time as 'certainly worthy of the purpose for which it was intended', introducing the portrait of Joseph (after an engraving) in the medallion, to which the figure personifying Madrid points. With the changing fortunes of the war this portrait was replaced (by other hands) by the word 'Constitución', by another portrait of Joseph, again by 'Constitución' and at the end of the war by a portrait of Ferdinand VII. Eventually in 1843 it received the present inscription 'DOS DE MAYO' ('The second of May') in reference to the popular rising against the French in Madrid in 1808. The surprisingly conventional allegorical composition is perhaps dictated by the purpose for which it was originally painted. It contrasts strikingly with the realism and fervour of the scenes from the rising which Goya painted four years later.