The Last Communion of San José de Calasanz

The painting by Goya will be on loan by the Order of Escuelas Pias de la provincia de Betania. It will be exhibited in the Room 22 of the Villanueva building for a year. It was the last of Goya’s ecclesiastical commission for an altarpiece for the Saint’s chapel was completed in 1819, coinciding with the opening of Museo del Prado 200 years ago.

Very little is known of the relationship Goya had with the Piarists in that time, he may well have felt a personal involvement with the saint, who was not only a fellow Aragonese, canonized in Goya’s lifetime, but also the founder of the religious schools that are said to have given him his education in Saragossa.

The temporary exhibition of this painting in the Museo del Prado has a special meaning as it coincides with the celebration of the bicentenary of the museum, the same year the painting was completed. The exhibition of this painting in the context of a much bigger and the most complete collection of the artist, allows us to deeper delve into the essence of his art.

This large altarpiece, with its highly charged dramatic subject is seen to its best advantage in the dimly-lit chapel for which it was painted. Studying each of his characters, he seems to foreshadow the classical occidental theme of light and shadow as the metaphors for the actions and thoughts of the main characters.

Image credits:

The Last Communion of San José de Calasanz, Francisco de Goya. Oil on canvas, 303 x 222 cm. 1819. Madrid, Padres Escolapios Collection

La última comunión de San José de Calasanz, Francisco de Goya. Óleo sobre lienzo, 303 x 222 cm. 1819. Madrid, Colección Padres Escolapios

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