Goya's Birthplace

01/12/2017 09:29

Fuendetodos is a small Spanish town where barely one hundred seventy souls live. It is quiet, a real haven of peace until a coach download a students’ bunch coming to visit the heart of the town where painter Francisco de Goya, here omnipresent, was born.

On the road, before taking the detour that leads to the town, a sign with painter’s profile and the inscription Ruta de Goya indicates the direction to take to visit his birthplace and the Museum of Engraving. The sign is just a few steps away from the fountain that gives name to the location, although it is known as Fuente Vieja, the old fountain, and was restored by adding a Gothic arch. It seems that the name of Fuendetodos ended a longstanding dispute originated in the middle Ages and that no one remembers. From here the references to the painter follow one after another, in addition to the indications there’s Goya Street and just beyond Goya Square where is the birthplace house and Zuloaga exhibition room, all chaired by a bust that seems to stare at both facilities from the top of the square. Scattered everywhere there are tiles with quotes and images of the painter: Fantasy, isolated of reason only produces impossible monsters. Attached to it, however, is the mother of art and source of your wishes or Time also paints. Several establishments share the enthusiasm: Maja de Goya, Capricho de Goya and a Goya inspired bakery.

Francisco José de Paula Goya came into this world on March 30, 1746 in Fuendetodos, somewhat by chance as their parents, José Goya, a Basque origin craftsman and Gracia Lucientes resided in Zaragoza and provisionally moved to this house owned by Miguel Lucientes, mother’s brother, where the family lived for six years. The three-storey building, built in the early eighteenth century, is easily identified by its sober facade with two whitewashed windows aligned vertically on the also whitewashed door. The house has been decorated with period furniture, on the ground floor there is a room that serves as a distributor, leading to the kitchen while on the sides are a small room and a staircase leading to the first floor, there are two bedrooms and a living room, the stairs follows up to the barn under a gabled roof enabled in the attic. For many years the birthplace of the painter was ignored until, in 1913, it was identified by another painter, Ignacio Zuloaga who bought it to a descendant, Benita Aznar Lucientes. In 1928 the Union of Initiatives and Propaganda of Aragon was responsible for the maintenance ahead painter's death centenary celebration, also acquiring the adjoining property that now has become Ignacio Zuloaga Exhibition Hall.

Following down Alfóndiga Street, when it changes its name precisely for Zuloaga Street, is the Engraving Museum, opened in April 1989 in a similar traditional house. Here are explained the different procedures of this technique used by the painter. Four engraving collections are exhibited: Caprices, Disasters, Tauromachy and Follies, all of them carried out between 1797 and 1824. Pierre Gassier, who during his life monitored several exhibitions on the work of Goya, noted that the engravings reflected all aspects of that exceptional man: vigour, black humour, biting satire, dreams, obsessions and vitality that led him throughout his life to observe, discover, fustigate or encourage their peers.

Other tributes made to the painter are some sculptures, one in front of the birthplace house, metallic and work of José Gonzalvo in 1978; another bust is inside the house, a gift from the artist Mariano Benlliure and, more classic, the third one is preserved on a stretched pedestal facing the church, commissioned in 1920 by the sculptor Juan Antonio Zuloaga.

The church of Our Lady of the Assumption is also related to the painter, here there’s the baptismal font where he was baptized and, preserved until the Spanish Civil War, was kept the relics box whose door was painted by him.

There are other places that surely must have known Goya along his childhood. Not far from the church, everything is near in Fuendetodos, and already in the suburbs, is the so-called Work of the Moors, who knew better times back in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries when the region was repopulated. However the reference to the Moors is out of place since the fort was built after the Christian take over. Still can be seen the foundations of several towers and part of a stone icebox built later.

Fuendetodos came to have more than twenty iceboxes, maybe twenty one or twenty two. In times of Goya these were in full swing, preserving the winter snow transformed into ice to take to sell to the capital, Zaragoza. Currently there are still three, one of them, the Culroya, has been restored and can be seen from inside descending by the inner metal stairs. Two steps away reappears the Old Fountain, everybody’s fountain as this is the meaning of Fuendetodos, where everything is near.

© J.L.Nicolas


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