GOYA Y LUCIENTES, Francisco de (1746-1828). Autograph letter signed ('Fran[cis]co de Goya') to Martín Zapater ('Q[ueri]do Martín'), n.p. [Madrid], 10 November , illustrated with drawings (in pen and ink) of a heart at the head and of a tiny figure (representing himself) beside the signature, 2 pages, 8vo, docketed by the recipient, 'R[ecebida] en 13', numbered '35' in green pencil in top right-hand corner on recto (a few tiny holes from oxidisation of ink, not affecting legibility, one touching second drawing).
GOYA'S DISTRESS AT HIS SON'S ILLNESS: on returning to Madrid from a visit to Zapater in Zaragoza, Goya has been met by the distressing news that 'the highly praised handsomeness of my little son had disappeared and in its place was a monstruosity completely covered with pox blisters. Can you imagine how I felt?': 'Asta la venta del Esp[i]ritus[an]to hemos tenido un buen viaje, pero biendo q[u]e no salían de mi casa a recivirnos consentí la nobedad que hemos encontrado (tantas alabanzas de la ermosura de mi niño an benido a parar, a encontrarlo), echo un monstruo de inchado lleno de viruelas. Considerás como estaré yo? ... Es de las malas noticias que te pueda enbiar para mí y no estrañes me olbide de otras asta tranquilizarme'. The illness (probably chickenpox) of his only surviving son, Francisco Javier, also meant that he would be kept from his duties as 'pintor da camara' at the palace by the forty days quarantine.
Martín Zapater y Clavería (1746-1803) a prosperous merchant, was Goya's closest friend in his native town of Zaragoza, and Goya's letters to him, spanning some 30 years, are almost his only private correspondence to have survived. The letters show him at his most intimate and uninhibited, including many colloquialisms and, frequently, obscene comments and jokes. Some, like the present letter, are embellished with small drawings.
By the autumn of 1790, detained in Madrid by his commitments as Pintor de Camara, Goya had been unable to visit Zapater for some time. Accompanied by another friend, Pepe Yoldi, he paid him a visit of twenty-three days, during which he was made an Honorary Fellow of the Real Sociedad Económica Aragonesa on 22 October. He also made sketches for the portrait of Zapater which was completed in his studio in December 1790 (now in a private collection in London: Ansón Navarro, no. 117, page 164). He left again for Madrid with three companions on 4 November -- a published letter by Zapater dated 6 November refers to Goya's visit and departure. Francisco Javier survived, and was to be Goya's sole heir.
Bibliography: Ángel Canellas López. Francisco de Goya. Diplomaterio, Addenda (Zaragoza, 1991, no.169 bis); Arturo Ansón Navarro. 'Revisión crítica de las cartas escritas por Goya a su amigo Martín Zapater' in Boletín del Instituto e Museo 'Camón Aznar', LIX-LX (1995), page 288; Goya: A Life in Letters, ed. Sarah Symmons with translations by Philip Troutman (2004).