He stands at an angle, wearing no medals or over the top decorations. His eyes are relaxed and he seems to want to smile, perhaps even to talk. Don Pedro, Duke of Osuna, part of a society that loved formality, could only pose with such familiarity in front of the artist who by this time was already a friend – the Spaniard Francisco De Goya.
The painting, created around 1790 (…stop to think about this… that’s about 223 years ago!), is now on exhibit at the Norton Simon Museum in Pasadena, a loan from The Frick Collection of New York. With the care that such an important art piece requires, ”Don Pedro” was moved to our area so that anyone willing may admire it… until March 3.
“Don Pedro” has been placed close to another three Goya paintings that live permanently at the Norton. Perhaps, although this is his first time on the west coast, he still feels at home because of it.
Goya is known to some as the “Last Old Master” and to others as the “First Modern Artist.” That is because he started with what at the time were traditional religious frescoes, but later switched to portraits and genre painting and introduced a style in which he combined reality with his own musings.
The real-life Duke of Osuna was one of Goya’s most important clients. Along with his wife, the influential man commissioned about 30 paintings from the artist. Goya underlined his familiarity with the Duke right on the painting by placing in Don Pedro’s right hand a card that reads: “El Duque de Osuna. Por Goya.” Perhaps by the time he created this piece Goya was already deaf, as history tells us that by 1793 he had completely lost his hearing after enduring a serious illness.
“Don Pedro” is reason enough to make it to the Norton Simon Museum. However, a collection of etchings and lithographs by Goya is also on exhibit. “Unflinching Vision: Goya’s Rare Prints” is a compilation owned by the Museum that is not regularly on view. Most are drawings and prints that Goya worked on during his lifetime (meaning they are originals, not reproductions), and many display titles that were handwritten by the Master himself. Altogether it is a can’t-miss exhibition!
The Norton Simon Museum is located at 411 West Colorado Blvd. It is open every day except Tuesday from noon to 6 p.m., and on Friday until 9 p.m. Admission is $10 general; $7 for seniors; free for those under 18, students, and military. And admission is free for everyone on the first Friday of every month between 6 p.m. and 9 p.m.
Dena Burroughs photos