Connect with us

DailyArtMagazine.com – Art History Stories

When The Inquisition Met Nude Maja

Bodies And Erotic Art

When The Inquisition Met Nude Maja

Which one do you prefer?
The Nude Maja or The Clothed Maja?

This question might have been asked by the painter Francisco Goya when he completed both paintings and showed them side by side to the commissioner, Manuel de Godoy, Prime Minister of Spain (1792 to 1797).
Maja is not a name of the girl, as I used to think, but a general term describing people from the lower class of Spanish society in the late 18th to early 19th century, especially in Madrid. They were one of the favorite subjects of some 19th-century Spanish painters because they had very characteristic elaborate outfits and particular manners, as they often were described as cheeky…

Cheeky Godoy

Francisco Goya, The Nude Maja, c. 1797–1800, Museo del Prado, Madrid. nude maja

Francisco Goya, The Nude Maja, c. 1797–1800, Museo del Prado, Madrid

The Nude Maja came first: Prime Minister commissioned Goya for a painting of a naked girl to hang it in his private collection. He had a separate cabinet reserved for nude paintings only, as he liked to collect “questionable pictures”, such as Velazquez Rokeby Venus (in other words, he liked to look at naked ladies). One of the accounts says that the Clothed Maja was placed in front of the naked one and in order to reveal it, one had to pull a cord. Godoy retained the nude girl for six years before it was discovered by investigators for the Spanish Inquisition in 1808.

Cheeky Goya

Diego Velázquez, Rokeby Venus, c. 1647–51, National Gallery, London nude maja

Diego Velázquez, Rokeby Venus, c. 1647–51, National Gallery, London

The Inquisition confiscated all the works from the collection and brought Godoy and the curator of his collection, Don Francisco de Garivay, before a tribunal. They were forced to reveal the artists whose works were “so indecent and prejudicial to the public good.” Goya was in real trouble. How did he escape prosecution? Goya said that he had only followed and emulated traditional painters such as Titian (and his Venus or Danaë) and Velázquez. Inquisition couldn’t say a word because both the church and the court admired Titian and Velazquez and did not find anything offensive in the Rokeby Venus.

Cheeky Maja

Francisco Goya, The Clothed Maja, 1803, Museo del Prado, Madrid. nude maja

Francisco Goya, The Clothed Maja, 1803, Museo del Prado, Madrid


Who was the model for these paintings? Most proabably it was Godoy’s young mistress Pepita Tudó, although some say that Goya painted his own mistress or moreover, he mixed the features of several ladies. Whoever she was, she had an enormous influence on Wester art to follow as it was the first instance in which pubic hair was painted in a non-prostitution context, and the model challenged the viewer with her direct gaze.Any associations guys? Yes, Manet’s Olympia is likely to be inspired by The Nude Maja.

 


Magda, art historian and Italianist, she writes about art because she cannot make it herself. She loves committed and political artists like Ai Weiwei or the Futurists; like Joseph Beuys she believes that art can change us and we can change the world.

Comments

More in Bodies And Erotic Art

  • Ancient Greece

    Venus Vincit Omnia. Venus in Art

    By

    Venus (also known by her Greek name Aphrodite) is the Goddess of Love. We’ve explored some famous Venus’ here. Next, Velázquez’s portrait put her onto the list of contenders for “Best Bums in Art.” Then there’s a discussion of Courbet’s paintings, along with Boticelli’s depiction of...

  • Diego Velázquez, The Rokeby Venus, 1644, National Gallery, London Diego Velázquez, The Rokeby Venus, 1644, National Gallery, London

    Baroque

    Painting of the Week: Diego Velázquez, The Rokeby Venus

    By

    Diego Rodríguez de Silva y Velázquez (1599 – 1660) was the leading artist in the court of King Philip IV, and one of the most important painters of the Spanish Golden Age and European Baroque. And The Rokeby Venus is his only surviving nude, three others...

  • 21st century

    Bold Is Beautiful – a Guide to Spotting a Ravinder Reddy Sculpture

    By

    Ravinder Reddy (b. 1956) is a contemporary Indian sculptor. His sculptures of women are now some of the most recognisable examples of contemporary South Asian Art. He studied in Vadodara, India, and also in Britain. Since the 1980s his art has been fascinated with female bodies and...

  • Andy Warhol's Ladies and Gentlemen Andy Warhol's Ladies and Gentlemen

    20th century

    Pride Month: Andy Warhol’s Ladies and Gentlemen

    By

    The club “The Gilded Grape”, situated in the no man’s land of Eighth Avenue and West 45th Street in New York City, was a hub of drag queens and black and Hispanic transvestites. In 1975, Bob Colacello, future Interview magazine editor and friend of Andy Warhol,...

  • Bodies And Erotic Art

    Celebrating the Male Body in Renaissance Florence

    By

    The adoration of a male body was an inspiration for many artists and there’s no medium better suited to presenting the full beauty and complexity of it than sculpture. Today we’ll take a look at the works by three Florentine artists celebrating the male body. In...

To Top

Just to let you know, DailyArt Magazine’s website uses cookies to personalise content and adverts, to provide social media features and to analyse traffic. Read cookies policy