It's official: 'Goya work' was painted by his pupil

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Francisco de Goya's arresting image of a brooding giant rising above a stampede of terrified people and animals has held pride of place for decades in Madrid's Prado museum.

But in an announcement set to raise a storm in the art world, the museum said yesterday that the celebrated El Coloso was not by the Spanish master after all, and was probably painted by a pupil in his studio.

In a devastating critique, the museum's chief Goya specialist said the painting, made during Napoleon's occupation of Spain after 1808 and long seen as one of the artist's most dramatic portrayals of the horrors of war, was "a pastiche".

"Stylistically, it is completely alien to Goya," said Manuela Mena, the Prado's senior Goya specialist who has studied El Coloso and doubts over its attribution for nearly 20 years. She also revealed doubts over at least three other Goyas held by the Prado.

The admission comes two months after The Independent broke the news of the polemic surrounding the iconic painting on the eve of the Prado's blockbuster Goya exhibition.

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