This and the following drawing both come from Album F, also called Images of Spain Album. The drawings are on Spanish paper and both sheets bear the watermark PAVLAR. About 97 drawings from Album F are extant and the highest numbering known is '106'. The album seems to have been begun during or immediately after the Peninsular War and there is some evidence that some pages were drawn as late as 1819.
Very few drawings from Album F are inscribed (for one notable exception, see the next lot). On the present drawing, the inscription in pencil and in French is a much later addition, probably copied from the 1877 Paris sale catalogue. This sheet was page '47' of the original bound album but it bears two other numberings applied by Federico de Madrazo. This shows that when Madrazo took it out of one of Javier Goya's large albums he evidently moved it from one to another of his own three albums.
Drawings from Album F are usually executed only in brown wash but on this one Goya also extensively used a bright carbon-grey wash to suggest the forms of rocks and the interior of a cave in the background, conveying a remarkable sculptural quality to the figure. The drawing, brushed with breathtaking freedom, has a finished appearance which is unusual in sheets from Album F. For the head (which was originally positioned further forward) and the hands, Goya has used with extraordinary virtuosity a thinner brush (but no pen) and a brown ink lighter in tone.
As opposed to the following drawing, this one does not seem to be part of a sequence. A man seated on a rock, wearing a shift, with long, bare, and almost skeletal legs, is praying in front of a cross, his eyes and his mouth wide open. The light illuminates the head and the coarse hands vigorously clasped together in an attitude of deeply felt prayer. His expression suggests heartfelt repentance and profound sorrow.
The scene with its setting in a cave with large rocks and the inclined cross is reminiscent of the Saint Jerome painted in 1794-8 now in the Norton Simon Museum in Pasadena (fig. 1; J. Gudiol, Goya, Madrid, 1970, no. 181, fig. 179). In a drawing from Album C, also called the Inquisition Album, an almost naked hermit also represented in a sort of cave, his hands clasped on a skull, is looking with passion towards a cross. This drawing, now in the Prado (Gassier, op. cit., 1973, no. 157 [C7]), is titled by Goya, not without sarcasm, 'Al desierto para ser santo, amen' (Into the desert to be a saint, Amen).
Goya also treated the subject of repentance in one of his last religious pictures, executed around 1820, now in the Phillips Collection, Washington, The Repentant Saint Peter (fig. 2; J. Gudiol, op. cit., no. 174, fig. 271).
But strangely - or one might say, tellingly - the closest parallel to this drawing in Goya's albums can be found in representations of prisoners. For instance, two sheets from Album C titled 'Not everyone knows it' and 'You are going to escape from your sorrows' show inmates seated on the ground, hands and feet tied, in an attitude which alludes to prayer (Gassier, op. cit.., nos. 240 [C95] and 257 [C113]). Repentance also evokes the tragic image of one of Goya's earliest and most famous etchings, The garrotted man (fig. 3), circa 1778, representing an executed prisoner, his hands tied and holding a cross.
The open mouth and the deep-set eyes of the penitent in the present drawing convey an even more striking intensity which prefigures the iconic Scream (fig. 4) created by Edvard Munch almost eighty years later.
We thank Juliet Wilson-Bareau for her kind help in cataloguing this drawing.