It is an exquisite pencil portrait on paper of Juana Galarza de Goicoechea, a wealthy merchant who was part of the painter’s in-laws.
The fixed clear gaze and the hint of a smile on her lips make her face friendly. This is how Francisco de Goya immortalised Juana Galarza de Goicoechea in a fine pencil portrait: a wealthy merchant who was part of the painter’s family-in-law (his son, Javier de Goya, married Gumersinda de Goicoechea, the second daughter of the portrayed).
It is an exquisite miniature in pencil on paper, depicting the profile of a mature woman, with a lost but serene gaze, dressed in the fashion of the first decade of the 19th century and with her hair tied up in a high, regency-style up-do. After an in-depth, long, meditated and contrasted study, which has lasted just over three years, Doctor Ximo Company and the researcher Jésica Martí, from the Centre of Art of the Modern Period in Lleida, have linked the woman to Juana Galarza, and have attributed the piece to Francisco de Goya.
This opinion has been contrasted with different experts on the subject and they have all agreed on the great quality of the piece: it is a small miniature drawing made in a very resolute and dynamic way, with a fine and exquisite result. It is beautiful, elegant and exudes an air of freedom. The portrait could only have been drawn by someone very close to the Goicoechea family, and, moreover, it had to be someone with great talent, an intuitive and trained hand, which is evident in the ease with which each of the strokes has been drawn: above all, the wild tuft of hair screams out that it has been done by the hand of the Aragonese master, Francisco de Goya.
The work has an inscription on the lower right-hand side, a type of annotation quite common among 19th-century collectors who tried to bring order to their art collections by writing the name of the artist to whom they suspected the piece belonged: in this case Goya.
The research process has been long, as it has been approached from many different points of view so as not to leave any loose ends, and it has been worth it: the paper corresponds to the first decade of the 19th century; the woman depicted is from Goya’s direct environment; the type of piece – a pencil portrait – is part of Goya’s production; and it would even fit in perfectly with the evolution of portraiture in Goya, and within the modes of representation used for his family in particular. Each question has been answered and no stone has been left unturned. But, moreover, the lines are not only Goya’s: they are Goya’s own. The work belongs to a private collection.