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The Maja Paintings

The Clothed Maja        The Naked Maja

 

The Clothed Maja (La maja vestida)  hangs side by side with The Naked Maja in the Prado museum. The paintings were first owned by Prime Minister Manuel de Godoy, who was known as an avid womanizer, and originally hung in his home in front of the Naked Maja in such a manner that the Naked Maja could be revealed at any time with the help of a pulley mechanism.

The Naked Maja is the painting that caused the Spanish Inquisition to interrogate and ultimately threaten Goya if he ever painted another nude woman. He was asked to reveal the name of the model but he refused. He then was banished from being the King’s painter and was essentially retired to his home where he painted mostly family and friends and some clients. Some think the model in the painting is the Countess D’Alba but the face is not at all similar to the known paintings of her. Most now think the face and body are two or more women.

The Naked Maja is also known as one of the earliest Western artworks to depict a nude woman’s pubic hair without obvious negative connotations (such as in images of prostitutes).

Leocadia Zorillo Weiss

 

La_Leocadia_(Goya)

 

Leocadia was married to a jeweler Isideo Weiss.  Leocadia had an unhappy marriage with Isideo, and was separated from him in 1811. Her husband cited “illicit conduct” during the divorce proceedings. She had two children before the marriage dissolved, and bore a third, Rosario, in 1814 when she was 26. Isideo was not the father, and it has often been speculated that the child belonged to Goya. Leocadia lived with Goya after his first wife Josefa died in 1812 and in 1824 followed him to Provence and stayed with him until his death in 1828.

Rosario Weiss

Rosario Weiss

 

Rosario was born  in 1814, two years after the death of Goya’s wife. At the time of her birth, her mother, Leocadia Zorillo Weiss was separated from her husband Isideo Weiss and living with Goya. So, even though she is named “Weiss,” it is unlikely her father was Isideo.  There is compelling evidence she was Goya’s daughter. Her mother Leocadia Zorrillo Weiss lived with Goya from 1812 on. She even moved with him to Provence in  1824 where she remained until Goya died in 1828. When Rosario was around 12-13 years old, Goya wrote a friend in Paris asking him to teach Rosario how to be a great painter. In that letter, he told his friend to “treat Rosario as though she was my own daughter.”

Leocadia Zorillo, Rosario Weiss

images

This painting is thought to be either Leocadia Zorillo or her daughter Rosario Weiss. The age of the painting makes it is likely Leocadia who was 35 years younger than Goya. Rosario would only have been about 12 when this portrait was painted and the subject looks considerably older then that.

Contess D’Alba

Countess D'Alba with Ring Countess D'Alba pointing

When Goya visited the Duchess’ estate in 1796 to 1797, she was thirty-five years old, just widowed, and in the flower of her beauty.  Goya’s portrait has her pointing to the sand where the words, solo Goya (“only Goya”) are inscribed. The inscription had originally been covered, but during a cleaning of the painting in the 20th century, the words became revealed.  Also, she wears rings inscribed “Alba” and “Goya.”

Countess D'Alba with Ring highlighted

Note the ring on the hand and where it’s pointing. These tidbits and the fact Goya visited the Duchess shortly after her husband’s death have led some to speculate that the Duchess was Goya’s lover. My research says otherwise although not conclusive. So, while we may never know the true nature of their relationship it is obvious that they had something more than just a painter/client relationship. Just what that was will titillate people until some more compelling evidence otherwise reveals itself.

The Duchess died under mysterious circumstances in July 1802 at the age of 40. Although her death was ostensibly due to tuberculosis and a fever, more colorful scenarios have been suggested over the years, among them a theory that she was poisoned (this theory was dramatized in the film The Naked Maja). She had no biological issue although she did have an adoptive daughter, known as María de la Luz who was black and referred to as “la Negrita.”

 

Schloss Karnzow

Castle 2

In 1944, Count Konigsmarck,  the owner of Castle (Schloss) Karnzow,  was asked by the director of the Kunsthalle Museum in Bremen,  to hide a collection of stolen Holocaust art in his castle fifty miles northwest of Berlin. All the best paintings were removed from their frames and stored behind a false wall. The Soviet army eventually found the paintings and took some of them back to the Hermitage museum where they remained until the 1990’s. One of the paintings was a Goya.

Han van Meegeren

Van Meegeren

1889-1947

Henricus Antonius ‘Han’ van Meegeren was a Dutch painter and portraitist and is considered to be one of the most ingenious art forgers of the 20th century.

As a child, van Meegeren developed an enthusiasm for the paintings of the Dutch Golden Age, and later set out to become an artist himself. When art critics decried his work as tired and derivative, van Meegeren felt that they had destroyed his career. Thereupon, he decided to prove his talent to the critics by forging paintings of some of the world’s most famous artists, including Frans Hals, Pieter de Hooch, Gerard ter Borch and Johannes Vermeer. He so well replicated the styles and colours of the artists that the best art critics and experts of the time regarded his paintings as genuine and sometimes exquisite. His most successful forgery was Supper at Emmaus, created in 1937 while living in the south of France. This painting was hailed by some of the world’s foremost art experts as the finest Vermeer they had ever seen.

During World War II, wealthy Dutchmen, wanting to prevent a sellout of Dutch art to Adolf Hitler and the Nazi Party, avidly bought van Meegeren’s forgeries. Nevertheless, a falsified “Vermeer” ended up in the possession of Reichsmarschall Hermann Göring. Following the war, the forgery was discovered in Göring’s possession. It is estimated that van Meegeren duped buyers, including the government of the Netherlands, out of the equivalent of more than thirty million dollars in today’s money.

Albert Göring

Albert Goring

1885-1966

Albert was a German businessman, notable for helping Jews survive in Germany during the Second World War while his older brother Hermann Göring was the head of the German Luftwaffe and a leading member of the Nazi Party.

The Göring family lived with their children’s aristocratic godfather of Jewish heritage, Ritter Hermann von Epenstein, in his Veldenstein and Mauterndorf castles. Von Epenstein was a prominent physician and acted as a surrogate father to the Göring children as the father was often absent from the family home. Albert was one of five children.

Von Epenstein began an affair with Franziska Göring about a year before Albert’s birth.  A strong physical resemblance between von Epenstein and Albert Göring have led many to believe that the two were father and son.

Göring became an active anti-Nazi  when he was made export director at the Škoda Works in Czechoslovakia. There, he encouraged acts of sabotage and had contact with the Czech resistance. On many occasions, Göring forged his brother’s signature on transit documents to enable dissidents to escape. When he was caught, he used his brother’s influence to get himself released. Göring also sent trucks to Nazi concentration camps with requests for labour.  Filled with laborers , the trucks would make a stop in an isolated area and the laborers would conveniently escape.

Albert died before his wartime activities could be publicly acknowledged.