The sitter is the son of the Count and Countess of Altamira. Outfitted in a splendid red costume, he is shown playing with a pet magpie (which holds the painter's calling card in its beak), a cage full of finches, and three wide-eyed cats. In Christian art birds frequently symbolize the soul, and in Baroque art caged birds are symbolic of innocence. Goya may have intended this portrait as an illustration of the frail boundaries that separate the child's world from the forces of evil or as a commentary on the fleeting nature of innocence and youth.
Goya’s portrait of Manuel Osorio Manrique de Zuñiga was already described in 1923 (Mayer) as "perhaps the best" of the artist’s portraits of children from the 1780s. Less than fifty years later, the painting had assumed iconic status and was considered "one of the most appealing and successful portraits of children ever painted, and also one of the most famous" (Virch 1967). This was in part due to Duveen’s sale of the highly publicized canvas in 1927 to Jules Bache, who had decided to acquire the portrait following the suggestion of his daughter Mrs. Gilbert Miller (Behrman 1952). A copy of the painting had also been included as part of the stage set in Henri Bernstein’s play La Galerie des Glaces which opened at the Théâtre du Gymnase, Paris, in October 1924. Bernstein had owned the portrait himself, from at least 1903 to 1925. For the celebrity of the painting in the twentieth century, see Reva Wolf, "Goya’s 'Red Boy'. The Making of a Celebrity," in Sarah Schroth, ed., Art in Spain and the Hispanic World: Essays in Honor of Jonathan Brown, London, 2010.
On January 29, 1787 Goya was paid for a series of portraits for the Banco de San Carlos (current Banco de España), including a full-length one of the governor of the bank, Vicente Joaquín Osorio Moscoso y Guzmán, 12th Conde de Altamira (1756–1816) (Banco de España, Madrid). The success of this portrait prompted the count to commission other portraits of members of his family by Goya. These included images of his wife, María Ignacia Álvarez de Toledo Condesa de Altamira with her daughter María Agustina (MMA 1975.1.148), and of his two sons, Vicente Osorio de Moscoso, Conde de Trastamara (1777–1837; private collection) and Manuel Osorio Manrique de Zuñiga señor of Ginés. As stated in the inscription at the bottom of the painting, Manuel was born on April 11, 1784; he died at the age of eight on June 12, 1792 (for a biography of the members of the Altamira family, see Moffitt 1987). It is likely that all four Altamira portraits were painted between 1786 and 1788, and this is supported by the age of the sitters in each painting. It has been suggested that the portrait of Manuel may be posthumous and painted after 1792, but this seems unlikely, and a dating around 1787–88 would fit for a three or four-year-old boy. The portraits of Vicente and Manuel were accompanied by a third one of their middle brother, Juan María Osorio (1780–1785; Cleveland Museum of Art). The portrait, acquired by the Cleveland Museum as a Goya, and subsequently attributed to Augustín Esteve, is by an unknown artist but, as the inscription at its bottom proves, was a posthumous one painted after 1785. It is unclear if the anonymous painter who portrayed Juan María based his image on Goya’s one of Manuel, or if he established the prototype for the portraits of the two other brothers. In this portrait Manuel wears a red outfit, which has given the painting the nickname the "Boy in Red". He is accompanied by several pets. Attached to a string is a magpie that holds Goya’s calling card in its beak. To the right is a cage full of finches and to the left three cats. Manuel’s pets have been interpreted in several different ways. The caged birds are usually symbols of the soul and of innocence; the cats can be seen as forces of evil; for Virch (1967), "all motion is suspended, but one can easily imagine all hell breaking loose in the next instant, when those monstrously intent cats, foreboding evil, jump at the magpie and tear apart the fragile birdcage, creating disorder and early sorrow. . . By introducing the dark forces of evil Goya gave poignancy to his portrayal of innocent youth." According to Chan (1980) the birdcage is a symbol of the confinement and protection of childhood, while the cats represent Fortune, Time, and Fate, and the magpie Destiny. The animals have also been seen as related to the iconography of Christ and his Passion (Pressly 1992) and to the educational views of the Enlightenment (Mena Marqués 2004). In general the animals fit within a larger visual tradition of children’s portraiture in Spain (Velázquez) and in England (Reynolds and Hogarth). [Xavier F. Salomon 2012]
Inscription: Signed and inscribed: (on card in bird's beak) Dn Franco Goya; (bottom) EL Sr. Dn. MANVEL OSORIO MANRRIQVE DE ZVÑIGA Sr. DE GINES NACIO EN ABR A II DE 1784 (Señor Don Manuel Osorio Manrique de Zuñiga, señor of Ginés [Canary Islands], born on April 11, 1784
the sitter's father, Vicente Osorio de Moscoso, 13th Conde de Altamira; private collection (until 1878; sale, paintings "provenant de l'étranger," Paris, March 30, 1878, no. 17, for Fr 1,200); M. et Mme Henri Bernstein, Paris (by 1903–25; sold for Fr 450,000 and £9,000 to Duveen); [Duveen, Paris, London, and New York, 1925–27; sold for $160,000 to Bache]; Jules S. Bache, New York (1927–d. 1944; his estate, 1944–49; cats., 1929, unnumbered; 1937, no. 42; 1943, no. 41)
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Spanish Paintings from El Greco to Goya," February 17–April 1, 1928, no. 19.
New York. M. Knoedler & Co. "Loan Exhibition of Paintings by Goya," April 9–21, 1934, no. 1.
Brooklyn Museum. "Exhibition of Spanish Painting," October 4–31, 1935, no. 24.
Baltimore Museum of Art. "A Survey of Spanish Painting through Goya," January 3–31, 1937, no. 19.
San Francisco. California Palace of the Legion of Honor. "Exhibition of Paintings, Drawings, and Prints by Francisco Goya (1746–1828)," June 5–July 4, 1937, no. 3.
New York. World's Fair. "Masterpieces of Art: European Paintings and Sculpture from 1300–1800," May–October 1939, no. 150.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "The Bache Collection," June 16–September 30, 1943, no. 41.
New York. Wildenstein. "A Loan Exhibition of Goya," November 9–December 16, 1950, no. 3.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Goya: Drawings and Prints," May 4–30, 1955, no. 166.
The Hague. Mauritshuis. "Goya," July 4–September 13, 1970, no. 10.
Paris. Musée de l'Orangerie. "Goya," September 25–December 7, 1970, no. 10.
Venice. Galleria Internazionale d'Arte Moderna di Ca' Pesaro [Venice]. "Goya, 1746–1828," May 7–July 30, 1989, no. 25.
Athens. National Gallery Alexandros Soutzos Museum. "From El Greco to Cézanne: Masterpieces of European Painting from the National Gallery of Art, Washington, and The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York," December 13, 1992–April 11, 1993, no. 34.
Stockholm. Nationalmuseum. "Goya," October 7, 1994–January 8, 1995, no. 8.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Goya in The Metropolitan Museum of Art," September 12–December 31, 1995, unnumbered cat.
Oslo. Nasjonalgalleriet. "Francisco Goya: Maleri, Tegning, Grafikk," February 10–April 14, 1996, no. 6.
Palais des Beaux-Arts de Lille. "Goya: Un regard libre," December 12, 1998–March 14, 1999, no. 19.
Philadelphia Museum of Art. "Goya: Another Look," April 11–July 11, 1999, unnumbered cat.
Madrid. Museo Nacional del Prado. "El retrato español: Del Greco a Picasso," October 20, 2004–February 6, 2005, no. 53.
Berlin. Alte Nationalgalerie. "Goya: Prophet der Moderne," July 13–October 3, 2005, no. 18.
Vienna. Kunsthistorisches Museum. "Goya: Prophet der Moderne," October 18, 2005–January 8, 2006, no. 18.
Paris. Galeries Nationales du Grand Palais. "Portraits publics, portraits privés, 1770–1830," October 4, 2006–January 9, 2007, no. 48.
London. Royal Academy of Arts. ""Citizens and Kings: Portraits in the Age of Revolution, 1760–1830," February 3–April 20, 2007, no. 102.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Goya and the Altamira Family," April 22–August 3, 2014, no catalogue.
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. "Goya: Order and Disorder," October 12, 2014–January 19, 2015, unnumbered cat. (fig. 43).
London. National Gallery. "Goya: The Portraits," October 7, 2015–January 10, 2016, no. 11.
Valerian von Loga. Francisco de Goya. Berlin, 1903, pp. 40, 201, no. 290, pl. 12 [2nd ed., 1921], as in the collection of Mme Bernstein, Paris.
Albert F. Calvert. Goya, an Account of His Life and Works. London, 1908, p. 137, no. 193.
Hugh Stokes. Francisco Goya: A Study of the Work and Personality of the Eighteenth Century Spanish Painter and Satirist. London, 1914, pp. 252, 333, no. 145, as dated 1784 and in the collection of Mme Bernstein, Paris.
August L. Mayer. Francisco de Goya. Munich, 1923, pp. 59, 197, no. 365 [English ed., 1924, pp. 47, 162, no. 365], calls it perhaps Goya's best children's portrait from the 1780s.
Édouard Brandus. "La collection des tableaux anciens de M. Jules S. Bache, à New-York." La Renaissance 11 (May 1928), p. 190, ill. p. 191.
"From El Greco to Goya." American Magazine of Art 19 (April 1928), ill. p. 186.
Tomás G. Larraya. Goya: Su vida, sus obras. Barcelona, 1928, p. 180, erroneously as still in the Bernstein collection.
X. Desparmet Fitz-Gerald. L'oeuvre peint de Goya: Catalogue raisonné. Paris, 1928–50, vol. 2, pp. 51, 313, 328, no. 332, pl. 259, dates it 1787; notes its sale in 1878.
August L. Mayer. "Francisco de Goya." Pantheon 1 (April 1928), ill. p. 191, dates it 1787.
"Cover." International Studio 91 (September 1928), ill. cover (color).
Walter Heil. "The Jules Bache Collection." Art News 27 (April 27, 1929), p. 4, ill. p. 19 (color), comments that "even in this charming likeness of an innocent child [Goya] brings in a cruel and uncanny note".
A Catalogue of Paintings in the Collection of Jules S. Bache. New York, 1929, unpaginated, ill., notes that in 1924 Henri Bernstein used it as a prop in his play, "La Galerie des Glaces," at the Théâtre du Gymnase, Paris.
Wilhelm R. Valentiner, ed. Unknown Masterpieces in Public and Private Collections. Vol. 1, London, 1930, no. 90, ill., dates it 1787 based on the age of the sitter, costume, and style.
Harry Adsit Bull. "Notes of the Month." International Studio 95 (January 1930), p. 58, calls it "The Boy with the Bird Cage".
Javier de Salas. "Lista de cuadros de Goya hecha por Carderera." Archivo español de arte y arqueología 7 (1931), p. 176, no. 29, as from the Altamira collection.
Virginia Nirdlinger. "Children Now—And Then." Parnassus 3 (December 1931), p. 4.
Helen Comstock. "Loan Exhibition of Goya's Paintings." Connoisseur 93 (May 1934), p. 333, ill.
Ella S. Siple. "A Goya Exhibition in America." Burlington Magazine 64 (June 1934), p. 287.
"Brooklyn Museum Opens Great Exhibition of Spanish Masterpieces." Art Digest 10 (October 1, 1935), p. 6.
A Catalogue of Paintings in the Bache Collection. under revision. New York, 1937, unpaginated, no. 42, ill.
Benno Fleischmann. Francisco Goya. Vienna, [1937?], p. 32, colorpl. 3.
"'Spanish Painting Through Goya' Opens the Year in Baltimore." Art Digest 11 (January 15, 1937), p. 15, ill.
R. J. McKinney. "Seeing the Shows: Spain at Baltimore." Magazine of Art 30 (February 1937), p. 113, ill. p. 112.
Mercedes C. Barbarrosa. The Living Goya. Boston, 1939, p. 194, ill. p. 177.
Duveen Pictures in Public Collections of America. New York, 1941, unpaginated, no. 234, ill., date it 1787.
José Gudiol. Goya. New York, 1941, p. 62, ill. p. 15 (color), dates it soon before Goya's 1792 portrait of Sebastián Martinez.
Regina Shoolman and Charles E. Slatkin. The Enjoyment of Art in America. Philadelphia, 1942, p. 471, pl. 426, date it 1787.
Harry B. Wehle. "The Bache Collection on Loan." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 1 (June 1943), p. 290.
A Catalogue of Paintings in the Bache Collection. rev. ed. New York, 1943, unpaginated, no. 41, ill.
Martin S. Soria. "Agustín Esteve and Goya." Art Bulletin 25 (September 1943), p. 257, calls it "Boy in Red," dates it 1786, and discusses it in comparison with Agustín Esteve's "Little Boy with a Dog" (Private collection, Paris).
Margaret Breuning. "Metropolitan Re-Installs Its Treasures in Attractive Settings." Art Digest 18 (June 1, 1944), p. 6.
"Editorial: The Bache Collection." Burlington Magazine 84 (March 1944), p. 55, ill. (frontispiece), dates it towards the end of the 1780s and states erroneously that it has not been exhibited in the United States.
Introduction by Harry B. Wehle. Masterpieces in Color at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. Ed. Bryan Holme. New York, 1945, p. 13, colorpl. 42, dates it probably 1787.
Carlyle Burrows. "Portrait of Don Juan Osorio-Alvarez." New York Herald Tribune (July 22, 1945), section 4, p. 4, ill., compares it to the portrait of Juan Osorio Alvarez (Cleveland Museum of Art), then attributed to Goya.
Herbert Weissberger. "Goya and His Handwriting." Gazette des beaux-arts 29 (February 1946), p. 115, fig. 1 (detail of signature), calls the artist's signature in this picture an intermediary link between those which are integrated into the painting's subject and traditional inscriptions.
Enrique Lafuente Ferrari. Antecedentes, coincidencias e influencias del arte de Goya: Catalogo ilustrado de la exposicion celebrada en 1932. Madrid, 1947, p. 276.
Henry S. Francis. "'Don Juan Maria Osorio-Alvarez: The Boy with a Linnet' by Goya." Bulletin of the Cleveland Museum of Art (June 1947), p. 113, calls the sitter in our painting the cousin of Juan Maria Osorio-Alvarez, whose portrait—ascribed by him to Goya—is in the Cleveland Museum of Art; elsewhere identifies Manuel Osorio's parents as Juan's [confirming that they are actually brothers]
Millia Davenport. The Book of Costume. New York, 1948, vol. 2, pp. 731–32, no. 2055, ill. (cropped).
Antonina Vallentin. This I Saw: The Life and Times of Goya. New York, 1949, p. 68, ill. opp. p. 56.
Elizabeth E. Gardner. "Notes." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 7 (June 1949), p. 260, ill. cover (color detail) and p. 260, dates it 1787 or 1788 and calls its quiet elegance and formality characteristic of Goya's paintings shortly before he became court painter.
J. M. Pita Andrade. "Aportaciones recientes a la historia del arte español." Archivo español de arte 22 (October–December 1949), p. 371, pl. 2, dates it 1787 or 1788.
Francisco J. Sánchez Cantón in "Los niños en las obras de Goya." Goya (Cinco estudios). Saragossa, 1949, pp. 77–78, pl. 12 [2nd ed., 1978], tentatively dates it 1787, noting that before Goya, children were depicted in most secular Spanish painting as miniature adults.
André Malraux. "Goya." Art News Annual, part 2, 49 (November 1950), p. 52, ill. p. 39 (color).
André Malraux. Saturne. Paris, 1950, pp. 27–28 [English ed., 1957, pp. 21–23, ill. (color)].
J. K. Reed. "Goya Forerunner of the Art Movement in Major New York Show." Art Digest 25 (November 15, 1950), p. 28, calls it "an exception to the comparative weakness of the earlier portraits" included in the 1950 Wildenstein exhibition.
F. J. Sanchez Canton. Vida y obras de Goya. Madrid, 1951, pp. 42–43, 168, pl. 24, dates it 1788.
Antonina Vallentin. Goya. Paris, , pp. 85–86, describes it as capturing "the eternal grace of childhood".
S[amuel]. N[athaniel]. Behrman. Duveen. New York, 1952, pp. 113–16, relates that the Bernsteins sold this picture to a Paris dealer for $50,000 and later Bache bought it from Duveen, at the suggestion of his daughter, Mrs. Gilbert Miller, for $275,000; adds that Gilbert Miller negotiated a lower price, against Bache's wishes [see Refs. Fowle 1976 and Secrest 2004 for different accounts of the sales].
Theodore Rousseau Jr. "A Guide to the Picture Galleries." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 12, part 2 (January 1954), p. 5.
Pierre Gassier. Goya. New York, 1955, p. 32, ill. p. 10 (color), dates Goya's paintings of children "from 1788 on".
F. M. Godfrey. Child Portraiture from Bellini to Cézanne. London, 1956, pp. 44–45.
Martin S. Soria. Agustin Esteve y Goya. Valencia, 1957, pp. 72, 78, fig. 24, [see Ref. Soria 1943].
A. Hyatt Mayor. "The Gifts that Made the Museum." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 16 (November 1957), p. 106.
Juan Antonio Gaya Nuño. La pintura española fuera de España. Madrid, 1958, p. 158, no. 885.
Roberta M. Alford. "Francisco Goya and the Intentions of the Artist." Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 18 (June 1960), pp. 484–85, fig. 1.
Gerald Reitlinger. The Economics of Taste. Vol. , The Rise and Fall of Picture Prices, 1760–1960. London, 1961, p. 331, states that Duveen bought "Miguel [sic] Osorio da Zuniga (the Little Red Boy)" in 1925 for £10,500 and then sold it to Bache for £33,000 after Bache rejected the original price of £56,000 [but see Refs. Fowles 1976 and Secrest 2004 for a refutation of this account].
George Savage. "Two Centuries of Picture Sales." Studio International 162 (November 1961), p. 194, calls it the "Red Boy" and cites Reitlinger's account [see Ref. Reitlinger 1961] of its sale in 1928 for £33,000, the highest recorded price paid for a Goya.
Julián Gállego. La peinture espagnole. Paris, 1962, pp. 182–83, ill. p. 179 (color).
Nigel Glendinning. "Goya and His Times at Burlington House." Connoisseur 155 (January 1964), p. 19, notes the "rigidly triangular pattern" of the composition.
Elizabeth du Gué Trapier. Goya and His Sitters: A Study of His Style as a Portraitist. New York, 1964, pp. 5–6, 52, figs. 9, 11 (overall and detail), dates it 1788 or 1789; comments that in this picture "there appears, perhaps for the first time in his portraiture, evidence of Goya's originality"; notes that similar cats appear later in Goya's 1799 print series "Los Caprichos".
Francisco Javier Sánchez Cantón. Goya. New York, , p. 14, dates it about 1788.
José Gudiol. Goya. New York, 1965, pp. 25, 90, ill. opp. p. 90 (color), dates it 1788.
Claus Virch. Francisco Goya. New York, 1967, pp. 34–35, no. 3, ill., dates it 1787–88 and calls it one of the most famous portraits of children ever painted; notes that "all motion is suspended, but one can easily imagine all hell breaking loose in the next instant, when those monstrously intent cats, foreboding evil, jump at the magpie and tear apart the fragile birdcage, creating disorder and early sorrow... By introducing the dark forces of evil Goya gave poignancy to his portrayal of innocent youth".
Gaspar Gómez de la Serna. Goya y su España. Madrid, 1969, pp. 60, 279.
Calvin Tomkins. Merchants and Masterpieces: The Story of The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1970, p. 316 [rev., enl. ed., 1989].
Pierre Gassier and Juliet Wilson. Vie et oeuvre de Francisco Goya. Ed. François Lachenal. Fribourg, Switzerland, 1970, pp. 61, 68, 78, no. 233, ill. p. 95 [English ed., 1971], date it about 1788; note that Goya painted six official portraits for the Bank of San Carlos between 1785–88, including that of the Count of Altamira, which led to commissions for portraits of the Count's wife and daughter, and two sons, Vicente and Manuel Osorio.
José Gudiol. Goya 1746–1828: Biographie, analyse critique et catalogue des peintures. Paris, 1970, vol. 1, pp. 68, 70, 256, no. 251; vol. 2, figs. 355, 356 (color detail) [Spanish ed., 1969–70; English ed., 1971, vol. 1, pp. 70, 73, 262, no. 251; vol. 2, figs. 355, 356 (color detail)], calls it "almost primitive in its essential scheme"; erroneously claims that the sitter became "a person of great influence in later life".
Jacques Paul Dauriac. "Orangerie des Tuileries. Exposition: Goya." Pantheon 28 (November–December 1970), p. 535.
Jeannine Baticle. Goya. Exh. cat., Mauritshuis. The Hague, 1970, unpaginated, no. 10, ill. and frontispiece (color) [Dutch and French eds., 1970].
Julián Gállego. "Crónica de Paris." Goya (November–December 1970), p. 167.
José López-Rey. "Goya: Madmen and Monarchs." Art News 69 (October 1970), p. 56.
D[iego]. A[ngulo]. Í[ñiguez]. "Exposición de Goya en los museos de la Haya y del Louvre." Archivo español de arte 43 (July–September 1970), p. 361.
Jean Chatelain. "Chronique des musées: Expositions, Orangerie des Tuileries, Goya." Revue du Louvre et des musées de France 20 (1970), p. 254, mentions it as an influence on Renoir's picture "Jean Renoir déguisé en clown rouge" [sic for "The Clown (Claude Renoir)," 1909, Musée de l'Orangerie, Paris].
J[eannine]. B[aticle]. "Chronique des musées: Expositions, Orangerie des Tuileries, Itinéraire de l'exposition Goya." Revue du Louvre et des musées de France 20 (1970), p. 256, ill. p. 255, dates it about 1787.
Fred Licht. "Nouveau regards sur Goya." L'Oeil (October 1970), pp. 10–11, fig. 15, comments that the parallel between the cats' fixed stares and the sitter's lost expression fosters a sense of ambiguity and psychological depth.
Marcel Pleynet. "Lettre de Paris." Art International 14 (December 1970), p. 57, remarks that the Orangerie exhibition in 1970 [see Exh. Paris 1970] was the first time this painting was seen in France.
Enrique García-Herraiz. "Crónica de Nueva York." Goya (September–October 1972), p. 107.
William G. Niederland, M. D. "Goya's Illness: A Case of Lead Encephalopathy?" New York State Journal of Medicine (February 1, 1972), pp. 413–14, fig. 1 [reprinted in Leonardo, vol. 6, Spring 1973, pp. 157–61], observes a sinister note in this picture, apparent in some of Goya's pre-1792 paintings; ascribes the change in Goya's work after his illness of 1792–93 to the mind altering effects of lead-poisoning contracted from white pigment.
Boyce Rensberger. "Goya Grotesquery Laid to Lead's Use." New York Times (February 28, 1972), p. 33, ill., in an interview, Niederland [see Ref. Niederland 1972] cites the sinister looking cats in this picture as an early indication of Goya's "premorbid personality structure" caused by brain damage from lead-based paints.
Everett Fahy. "European Paintings: Goya's Portraits of Pepito Costa y Bonells." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 31 (Summer 1973), p. 174, ill., dates it about 1787 and calls it an example of Goya's early pictures which were highly colored in the 18th-century rococo fashion.
Rita de Angelis. L'opera pittorica completa di Goya. Milan, 1974, pp. 84, 87, 102–03, no. 229, ill., dates it 1788.
Edward Fowles. Memories of Duveen Brothers. London, 1976, pp. 149–50, recounts buying this painting from Bernstein through the intermediary Henri Bardac, for Fr 450,000 and £9,000, on the condition that it remain on loan for Bernstein's play; refutes Behrman's account [Ref. 1952] of Duveen's reducing the sale price for Bache and remarks "he knew that if he did not purchase the picture, it would have been bought at once by Andrew Mellon".
Sarah Symmons. Goya. London, 1977, pp. 11, 24, colorpl. 1 and ill. cover (color), dates it about 1788 and says that it was paired with a portrait of another brother, Juan María, attributed to Esteve (Cleveland Museum of Art); observes that 18th-century English portraits also depicted children with their pets and relates these cats to the monsters in Goya's "St. Francisco de Borja" (about 1788; Valencia Cathedral).
Lorenz Eitner. "Cages, Prisons, and Captives in Eighteenth-Century Art." Images of Romanticism: Verbal and Visual Affinities. Ed. Karl Kroeber. New Haven, 1978, pp. 18–19, fig. 9, states that in eighteenth-century children's portraits, a caged bird symbolizes childhood innocence; observes in this picture "a stillness like the quiet before an execution".
Fred Licht. Goya: The Origins of the Modern Temper in Art. New York, 1979, pp. 180, 193, 230, 232, 234, fig. 112, compares it to Velázquez's "Infante Philip Prosper" (Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna) in which he sees "Velázquez's instinctive desire to enshrine the innocent, fragile boy in a protective interior where all is warm, soft, and benevolent," a direct contrast to the unsettling emptiness of space in Goya's picture; interprets Manuel Osorio's detached stare as deliberate ignorance of the impending doom of his pet bird and remarks that "more than a hundred years before Freud, Goya penetrates the innocence of children's appearance to portray the latent ambiguities and curiosity about death and pain that dwell in every child".
Howard Hibbard. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1980, pp. 394, 398, fig. 716 (color).
Nigel Glendinning. "Convention and Character in Goya's Portraits." Biography in the 18th Century. Ed. J.D. Browning. New York, 1980, p. 171 n. 16, pp. 183–84, compares it to Goya's portrait of Manuel's brother, Vicente (Private collection, Switzerland).
Victor Chan. "Time and Fortune in Three Early Portraits by Goya." Arts Magazine 55 (December 1980), pp. 107, 112, 114, 117, fig. 10, dates it about 1788; calls it a "forthright symbolic portrait about human destiny," interpreting the birdcage as the confinement and protection of childhood, the three cats as Fortune, Time, and the Fates, and the magpie holding Goya's calling card as Destiny, its fate, like Goya's artistic future, dependent on Fortune.
Nigel Glendinning. "Goya's Patrons." Apollo 114 (October 1981), pp. 239, 247 n. 11, comments that the Altamira family portraits are among Goya's most conventional, except for the "strong hint of real life" and sense of irony in Manuel Osorio's; suggests that the Altamiras were not happy with this picture since it was the last work they commissioned from Goya.
Pierre Gassier. Goya dans les collections suisses. Exh. cat., Fondation Pierre Gianadda. Martigny, 1982, p. 38, contrasts the portraits of Manuel and Vicente Osorio, calling Manuel an "éclatant de fraîcheur".
Edward J. Sullivan. Goya and the Art of His Time. Exh. cat., Meadows Museum, Southern Methodist University. Dallas, 1982, p. 84, fig. 37, comments that the central figure in Esteve's "Four Children" (The Sarah Campbell Blaffer Foundation, Houston) is derived from the type of child portrait exemplified by this picture; notes that the bird is a traditional symbol of the soul.
Nancy Coe Wixom inThe Cleveland Museum of Art Catalogue of Paintings. part 3, European Paintings of the 16th , 17th, and 18th Centuries. 1982, p. 482.
Charles S. Moffett inManet, 1832–1883. Ed. Françoise Cachin and Charles S. Moffett. Exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1983, pp. 76, 301, cites this picture as an influence on Manet's painting "Boy with a Sword" (1861; MMA 89.21.2), noting that in both works a child is standing among "attributes that reflect the values of adults".
Edward J. Sullivan. "Goya's 'Two Portraits' of Amalia Bonells de Costa." Arts Magazine 57 (January 1983), p. 78, dates it about 1788 and notes that the three cats "would appear in a later avatar as hungry, frightening beasts, in the print series known as 'Los Caprichos'".
Pierre Gassier. Goya: Témoin de son temps. Secaucus, 1983, pp. 114, 120, fig. 65 [French ed., 1983], dates it about 1788.
Julián Gállego inGoya en las colecciones madrileñas. Exh. cat., Museo Nacional del Prado. Madrid, 1983, pp. 64, 92, fig. 21 (color) [French translation of this essay is published in "Goya," Musées Royaux des Beaux-Arts, Belgium, 1985], dates it about 1788 and calls it one of the best child portraits of all time.
Wilhelm Messerer. Francisco Goya: Form und Gehalt seiner Kunst. Freren, Germany, 1983, p. 118, mentions this "puppet like" sitter as an example of the separation between the physical and psychological in Goya's portraits.
Ronald Paulson. Representations of Revolution (1789–1820). New Haven, 1983, pp. 358, 361, fig. 90, compares the bird among the cats in this picture to the artist among the monsters in the print "The Sleep of Reason Produces Monsters" ("Caprichos," pl. 43, 1799) and to Christ among the mob in "The Taking of Christ" (1798; Toledo Cathedral).
Barbara Burn. Metropolitan Children. New York, 1984, p. 67, ill. (color).
John Dowling. "The Crisis of the Spanish Enlightenment: "Capricho 43" and Goya's Second Portrait of Jovellanos." Eighteenth-Century Studies 18 (Spring 1985), p. 341, fig. 2, dates it 1788; comments that the tension between the bird and cats in this picture predicts the grotesque elements characterizing Goya's works from the late 18th century, such as the print series "Los Caprichos" from 1799.
Colin Simpson. Artful Partners: Bernard Berenson and Joseph Duveen. New York, 1986, pp. 206–7, 295 [British ed., "The Partnership: The Secret Association of Bernard Berenson and Joseph Duveen," London, 1987].
Jeannine Baticle. Goya d'or et de sang. Paris, 1986, pp. 58, 61, ill. p. 61 (color).
Gary Tinterow et al. Capolavori impressionisti dei musei americani. Exh. cat., Museo di Capodimonte, Naples. Milan, 1987, p. 54, cites the influence of this work on Manet's "Boy with a Sword" (MMA 89.21.2).
John F. Moffitt. "Goya's Emblematic Portrait of Don Manuel María Osorio de Moscoso y Álvarez de Toledo." Konsthistorisk tidskrift 56 (1987), pp. 145–56, figs. 1, 1a, 1b (overall and details), cites the recently discovered baptismal record of the sitter, as well as the record of his death in 1792; dates this portrait about 1787–88 or posthumously in 1792, suggesting that either the emblematic accessories were added to an earlier portrait after the sitter's death or that this picture supercedes an earlier one painted from life; discusses the cats, caged birds, and magpie in relation to images and verses in emblem-books of the period, viewing them as symbols of capricious destiny and the inherent instability of the world, noting that "particularly prone to imminent disaster are the most 'sharp-witted' and 'beautiful' male offspring".
Sarah Symmons. Goya: In Pursuit of Patronage. London, 1988, pp. 126, 132, 135, 137–38, ill. p. 127, dates it about 1788 and remarks on the "incipient violence at the feet of Manuel Osorio".
Jeannine Baticle. "Goya portraitiste." Biennale des antiquaires no. 439 (September 1988), p. 92, ill. p. 93 (detail), dates it about 1787-88.
Janis A. Tomlinson. Francisco Goya: The Tapestry Cartoons and Early Career at the Court of Madrid. Cambridge, 1989, pp. 138, 147, 168, 253 n. 54, fig. 89, notes that "the authority with which Goya endows the offspring of his aristocratic patrons . . . distinguishes his portraiture of children . . . within a period of social transition, their appeal is founded on the reassurance they offer of the perpetuity of lineage"; regards the birdcage as a symbol of childhood innocence that "betrays Goya's interest in the iconography of the ages of man during this period".
Alfonso E. Pérez Sánchez. Goya. Paris, 1989, p. 58, fig. 4 (color), comments on the sitter's sad expression and notes that Goya considered cats symbols of evil and childhood as vulnerable to all dangers.
José Luis Morales y Marín inGoya, 1746–1828. Exh. cat., Galleria Internazionale d'Arte Moderna di Ca' Pesaro [Venice]. Milan, 1989, pp. 106, 240, no. 25, ill. in color (cover and p. 107), dates it 1788.
Marianna Minola de Gallotti. "Cronica de Italia." Goya (July–October 1989), p. 104, ill. p. 103 (color).
Monique de Beaucorps. La peinture espagnole. Paris, 1990, p. 114, ill. p. 115 (color), suggests that the sense of forboding in this picture was a premonition by Goya of the looming political crisis in Spain that would effect aristocratic families like the Altamiras; considers the cats and birds precursors of the beasts in Goya's "Los Caprichos" and "Desastres de la guerra".
Milton Esterow. "Masterpiece Theater." Art News 89 (Summer 1990), pp. 134–35, quotes Everett Fahy's description of this painting as "pure Mozart . . . the early Goya, before he really plumbs the depth of the human soul".
Colnaghi in America: A Survey to Commemorate the First Decade of Colnaghi New York. Ed. Nicholas H. J. Hall. New York, 1992, p. 88, compares it to a 1740s portrait of a young boy by Pierre-Hubert Subleyras in which a standoff between a dog and cat suggests a "hint of violence".
Deborah Krohn et al. inFrom El Greco to Cézanne: Masterpieces of European Painting from the National Gallery of Art, Washington, and The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. Exh. cat., National Gallery Alexandros Soutzos Museum. Athens, 1992, pp. 16, 26, 37–38, 308, no. 34, ill. (color).
Jeannine Baticle. Goya. Paris, 1992, p. 132, ill. between pp. 272–73.
William L. Pressly. "Goya's 'Don Manuel Osorio de Zuñiga': A Christological Allegory." Apollo 135 (January 1992), pp. 12–20, colorpl. 1, interprets the picture's iconography in an 18th-century context, and finds allusions to the Christ Child and to the Passion.
José Luis Morales y Marín. Goya: Catálogo de la pintura. Saragossa, 1994, p. 204, no. 178, ill. [English ed., 1997], dates it 1788.
Janis Tomlinson. Francisco Goya y Lucientes, 1746–1828. London, 1994, pp. 65–66, 73, figs. 44–45 (color, overall and detail), suggests that the string attached to the bird was a pictorial device added by Goya as an afterthought; calls it Goya's "last overtly emblematic portrait" and notes that "such a menagerie probably alludes to innocence protected (the caged birds), and its inevitable loss (symbolized by the cats ready to pounce)"; wonders if Goya "complicated the image, perhaps in an attempt to parade his capacity as an intellectual artist".
John F. Moffitt. "Los 'Emblemas Morales' de Francisco de Goya y de Sebastián de Covarrubias." Goya (July–October 1994), pp. 45–47, fig. 1, considers it a posthumous portrait dating from 1792; connects the iconography of the tied magpie with similar images from an emblem-book by Sebastián de Covarrubias, edited in 1610.
Susan Alyson Stein inGoya in The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1995, pp. 14, 45, 55, 57, 67, fig. 1 (color), color detail on front cover, and fig. 27 (installation view).
Holland Cotter. "World of Goya and Those Who Would Be Goya." New York Times (September 15, 1995), p. C30.
Paul Jeromack. "Goya: Truth and Enlightenment." Art Newspaper no. 51 (September 1995), p. 12.
Jean-Louis Augé. "Le portrait de Manuel Osorio à l'âge de trois ans." Dossier de l'art (December 1996), p. 44, ill. in color: p. 45, and details (on front cover and p. 44), dates it about 1787 and calls it a mysterious picture that might be read in terms of Christian symbolism and allegory.
José Manuel Arnaiz. "Nuevas andanzas de Goya: Falsos y auténticos en el Metropolitan." Galería antiquaria no. 136 (February 1996), pp. 43–44, ill. p. 40 (color).
Jeannine Baticle. "Goya au Metropolitan." Connaissance des arts no. 527 (April 1996), p. 60, fig. 1 (color), dates it 1787.
Juan J. Luna inGoya: 250 aniversario. Exh. cat.Madrid, 1996, p. 410 under no. 140.
Juliet Wilson-Bareau. "Goya in The Metropolitan Museum of Art." Burlington Magazine 138 (February 1996), p. 102, observes that it "reveals the care Goya took with the presentation of even his youngest sitters" but laments the current condition of the picture which has lost Goya's original "finishing touches," particularly its colored glazes.
Jonathan Brown inThe Robert Lehman Collection. Vol. 2, Fifteenth- to Eighteenth-Century European Paintings. New York, 1998, p. 183.
Jean-Louis Augé inGoya: Un regard libre. Exh. cat., Palais des Beaux-Arts de Lille. Paris, 1998, pp. 61, 70, 156, 158, no. 19, ill. pp. 157, 159, and on cover (color, overall and detail), interprets the iconography of this picture in terms of destiny, the Christ child, the Passion, and premature death; comments that such an image could not be made without the agreement of the sitter's family and wonders if it was intended for Manuel, as the younger son, to devote his life to the church.
Sarah Symmons. Goya. London, 1998, pp. 119–20, fig. 76 (color), compares it to Velázquez's pictures of dwarves and relates the cats to the monsters in Goya's 1788 paintings for the Valencia Cathedral.
David McTavish. "From Rembrandt to Renoir in Toronto: Frank P. Wood's Role as Private Collector, Public Adviser and Munificent Patron." The Private Collector and the Public Institution. Ed. Sheila D. Campbell. [Toronto], 1998, p. 21, notes that Duveen lent this portrait on approval to Woods, whose wife could not bear to see the three cats staring at the magpie every morning as she descended the stairs.
Joseph J. Rishel. Goya: Another Look. Exh. cat., Philadelphia Museum of Art. Philadelphia, 1999, p. 38, ill. p. 43 (color), dates it 1788 and calls it "one of the most fetching and winsome children's portraits of all time".
Isadora Rose-de Viejo. "Goya. Lille and Philadelphia." Burlington Magazine 141 (April 1999), p. 248, mentions as particularly interesting the interpretation of this sitter as a "new Emmanuel" [see Augé et al. 1998].
Robert Hughes. Goya. New York, 2003, p. 115, ill. p. 114 (color), sees it as an "example of Goya's awareness of how contingent life is".
Meryle Secrest. Duveen: A Life in Art. New York, 2004, pp. 200–201, 446.
Manuela B. Mena Marqués inThe Spanish Portrait: From El Greco to Picasso. Ed. Javier Portús. Exh. cat., Museo Nacional del Prado. London, 2004, pp. 210, 356–57, no. 53, ill. p. 228 (color) [Spanish ed., 2004], dates it 1788; believes this portrait represents Enlightenment theories about children's education.
Dagmar Feghelm. I, Goya. Munich, 2004, pp. 66, 69, ill. p. 67 (color), dates it about 1788 and calls it "an ambivalent, even multivalent enigma".
Manuela Mena Marqués inGoya: Prophet der Moderne. Ed. Peter-Klaus Schuster et al. Exh. cat., Alte Nationalgalerie, Berlin. Cologne, 2005, pp. 14, 110, no. 18, ill. p. 111 (color), suggests this picture was hung in the Altamira home to teach the children about potential dangers [and see Ref. Mena Marqués 2004].
Werner Hofmann inGoya: Prophet der Moderne. Ed. Peter-Klaus Schuster et. al. Exh. cat., Alte Nationalgalerie, Berlin. Cologne, 2005, pp. 27–28, calls the artist's calling card in the magpie's beak an example of Goya's habit of inserting himself into a picture when he felt a personal association; since the magpie is bound to the boy by the string, questions whether the artist's role is one of outsider or partner in the game of perpetrator and victim.
Katharine Baetjer inThe Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York: Chefs-d'œuvre de la peinture européenne. Exh. cat., Fondation Pierre Gianadda. Martigny, 2006, pp. 20–22 [Catalan ed., Barcelona, 2006, p. 19].
Amar Arrada inCitizens and Kings: Portraits in the Age of Revolution, 1760–1830. Exh. cat., Royal Academy of Arts. London, 2007, pp. 184, 202, 327, no. 102, ill. p. 203 (color) [French ed., Portraits publics, portraits privés, 1770–1830, Paris, 2006, no. 48].
Gudrun Maurer inGoya en tiempos de guerra. Ed. Manuela B. Mena Marqués. Exh. cat., Museo Nacional del Prado. Madrid, 2008, p. 220.
Xavier F. Salomon. "Goya and the Altamira Family." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 71 (Spring 2014), pp. 4–6, 32, 34, 36–39, 41–43, 45–47, figs. 2 (color), 3 (set for "La Galerie des glaces"), 4 (color, photograph of Miller apartment) 50 (color detail).
Jane E. Braun inGoya: Order & Disorder. Exh. cat., Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Boston, 2014, pp. 110, 378, fig. 43 (color) and ill. on title p. (color detail).
Janis A. Tomlinson inGoya: Order & Disorder. Exh. cat., Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Boston, 2014, p. 208.
Xavier Bray. Goya: The Portraits. Exh. cat., National Gallery. London, 2015, pp. 63, 66, 71, 213 nn. 23, 27, no. 11, ill. (color).
Thomas Gayford in Xavier Bray. Goya: The Portraits. Exh. cat., National Gallery. London, 2015, p. 229.
Allison Goudie in Xavier Bray. Goya: The Portraits. Exh. cat., National Gallery. London, 2015, p. 244.
Kathryn Calley Galitz. The Metropolitan Museum of Art: Masterpiece Paintings. New York, 2016, p. 425, no. 307, ill. pp. 321, 425 (color).
Artist: Goya (Francisco de Goya y Lucientes) (Spanish, Fuendetodos 1746–1828 Bordeaux)Date: ca. 1819–23Medium: Brush, black ink, and wash on Netherlandish laid paperAccession: 19.27On view in:Not on view