Spain remembers the Peninsular War
Brutality was nonetheless laced with heroism, which is why the Spanish War (as the French call it) became – despite the loss of an estimated million lives – a romanticised episode in Spain's collective memory, a brief precious moment of glory that today everyone seeks to reclaim. This is hardly surprising, since for the subsequent two centuries Spain suffered the loss of a world empire, civil wars, military coups and a role on the world stage that dwindled to insignificance.
Hence the enthusiasm with which Spain prepares to mark this year's 200th anniversary. But the forthcoming festivities, re-enactments, official parades, exhibitions and book launches are likely, to British eyes, to have a peculiarly missing centre. Where, we may ask, is the Duke of Wellington, perhaps the greatest general Britain ever produced, whose tens of thousands of crack troops deployed for seven years in Spain and Portugal were never vanquished?
The Prado museum is restoring the two great works as the centrepiece of a forthcoming exhibition, Goya in Times of War. Goya's drawings, Disasters of War, begun in 1810 at the height of the bloodshed, capture precise episodes with a timeless quality that applies to all wars.
They show "universal human behaviour", says Jose Manuel Matilla, the head of the Prado Museum's department of drawings and prints. "Goya's Disasters mark the maximum expression an artist has ever achieved of the irrationality of violence and its terrible human consequences." The works were shunned in the artist's lifetime. No one wanted such stark documentary records of cruelty perpetrated by both soldiers and civilians. They remained in his family for decades and entered the Prado after 1860.
comments powered by Disqus
- South Dakota drops history as a high school requirement
- The Forgotten History Of 'Violent Displacement' That Helped Create The National Parks
- Gospel of Jesus’ Wife May Be Authentic, New Tests Suggest
- Architect Sought for Obama’s Presidential Library Complex
- 2016 election's leading candidates have strong Jewish family ties
- Historians tackle America’s mass incarceration problem
- Report: Russian studies in crisis
- Ken Burns: Donald Trump’s birtherism — a “politer way of saying the ‘N-word'” — proves America isn’t remotely “post-racial”
- Medievalist calls on historians to welcome pop culture
- NYT History Book Reviews: Who Got Noticed this Week?