The dazzling whites of this child’s elaborate costume, tailored in imitation of a soldier’s uniform, set him apart from the additional military references guised as toys: a horse, drum, and rifle with fixed bayonet. This extraordinary portrait is most closely related to works that Goya painted shortly after 1810 and seems to allude to the Spanish War of Independence (1808–14). Known by the nickname Pepito, the sitter was the son of Rafael Costa de Quintana, doctor to King Ferdinand VII; his mother was the daughter of Jaime Bonells, doctor to the Alba family, important patrons of Goya’s.
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Title:José Costa y Bonells (died l870), Called Pepito
Artist:Goya (Francisco de Goya y Lucientes) (Spanish, Fuendetodos 1746–1828 Bordeaux)
Medium:Oil on canvas
Dimensions:41 3/8 x 33 1/4 in. (105.1 x 84.5 cm)
Credit Line:Gift of Countess Bismarck, 1961
Known by the nickname Pepito, José Costa y Bonells is identified by the inscription on the lower left. He was one of the three children of Rafael Costa de Quintana, a prominent physician in Spain at the turn of the nineteenth century. Rafael served in the Ejército de la Izquierda under the marqués de la Romana, was subsequently General Superintendent of Public Health (Superintendente General de Salud Pública) in Cádiz, from 1810 Médico de Cámara, and a year after was nominated minister in the Tribunal del Protomedicato Supremo. He was the author of a popular medical publication, the Curso de Anatomia. Costa lived in a house in Calle del Desengaño in Madrid, the same in which Goya had lived between 1779 and 1782 and in 1800. Pepito’s mother was the daughter of another distinguished physician, Jaime Bonells, who had been the family doctor to the Duke of Alba. Her name is uncertain and she is described by the sources as Fernanda or Amalia Bonells y Mas (for the issue of her name, see Sullivan 1983). She was also portrayed by Goya; the painting is now in the Detroit Institute of Arts. Pepito had a brother, Ignacio, and sister, Rafaela. She married the painter Antonio Brugada, who was a friend and disciple of Goya in Bordeaux, and was also the author of the inventory of Goya’s belongings after his death in 1828 (for the most up to date account of the Costa family see Maurer 2008).
The last two numbers on the date in the inscription here are illegible, and the painting has therefore been variously dated between 1804 and 1818. It is likely, however, to have been painted around 1810, at a time when Goya also portrayed other children, such as Victor Guye (National Gallery of Art, Washington) and his own grandson Mariano Goya (private collection).
Pepito is depicted wearing an outfit with military connotations. His hair is shaped in the Napoleonic fashion, and next to him are a toy drum and rifle with a bayonet. He holds with his left hand a hobbyhorse, in reference to dismounted equestrian portraits, popular at the time with royal and military figures. These attributes surely refer to the Spanish War of Independence (1808–14), and Pepito has been described as "a child of the war years" (Wilson-Bareau 1996).
The sitter married Antonia Bayo y Henry, and the couple had one child who died in infancy. They subsequently adopted their niece, Matilde de Quesada y Bayo, later Countess of Gondomar, who was the daughter of Antonia’s sister. This portrait was inherited by Matilde, who sold it in 1904 to the Galerie Trotti, Paris. Before the painting was sold, the family commissioned a copy of it from the artist Federico de Madrazo y Kuntz. Pepito’s portrait reached New York in 1906, with Knoedler, and it then passed through four American private collections, those of Mr. and Mrs. John W. Simpson, New York (1906–17), Andrew W. Mellon, Pittsburgh (1918), Mr. and Mrs. Morton F. Plant, New York (1918–29) and finally that of Mr. and Mrs. Harrison Williams (1929–61), New York and Paris. It was Harrison Williams’s widow, Mona, later Countess Bismarck, who bequeathed the painting to The Met in 1961.
Xavier F. Salomon 2012
Inscription: Signed, dated, and inscribed (lower left): Pepito Costa y Bonells / Por Goya. 18[ ]
José Costa y Bonells (until d. 1870); his niece, Matilde de Quesada y Bayo, Condesa de Gondomar (1870–1904; sold to Trotti); [Galerie Trotti, Paris, 1904–6; sold to Knoedler]; [Knoedler, New York and London, 1906; sold to Simpson]; Mr. and Mrs. John W. Simpson, New York (1906–17); [Knoedler, New York, 1917–18]; Andrew W. Mellon, Pittsburgh (1918; sold to Knoedler ); [Knoedler, New York, 1918; sold for $90,000 to Plant]; Mr. and Mrs. Morton F. Plant, New York (until his d. in 1918); Mrs. Morton F. Plant, later Mrs. William Hayward, New York (1918–29); [Knoedler, New York, 1929]; Mr. and Mrs. Harrison Williams, New York (1929–until his d. in 1953); Mrs. Harrison Williams, Paris, later Mona, Countess Bismarck (1953–61)
New York. M. Knoedler & Co. "Loan Exhibition of Paintings by El Greco and Goya," January 1915, no. 18.
New York. M. Knoedler & Co. "A Loan Exhibition of Sixteen Masterpieces," January 6–18, 1930, no. 11.
New York. M. Knoedler & Co. "Loan Exhibition of Paintings by Goya," April 9–21, 1934, no. 13 (as "Pepito Costa y Bonello," lent by Mr. and Mrs. Harrison Williams).
New York. M. Knoedler & Co. "24 Masterpieces," November 4–23, 1946, no. 20 (lent by Mr. and Mrs. Harrison Williams).
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Patterns of Collecting: Selected Acquisitions, 1965–1975," December 6, 1975–March 23, 1976, unnumbered cat.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Goya in The Metropolitan Museum of Art," September 12–December 31, 1995, unnumbered cat.
Madrid. Museo Nacional del Prado. "Goya: 250 aniversario," March 30–June 2, 1996, no. 140.
Martigny. Fondation Pierre Gianadda. "The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York: Chefs-d'œuvre de la peinture européenne," June 23–November 12, 2006, no. 29.
Barcelona. Museu Nacional d'Art de Catalunya. "Grandes maestros de la pintura europea de The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Nueva York: De El Greco a Cézanne," December 1, 2006–March 4, 2007, no. 23.
Madrid. Museo Nacional del Prado. "Goya en tiempos de guerra," April 14–July 13, 2008, no. 48.
Brisbane. Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art. "European Masterpieces from The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York," June 12–October 17, 2021, unnumbered cat.
Osaka. Osaka City Museum of Fine Arts. "European Masterpieces from The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York," November 13, 2021–January 16, 2022.
Tokyo. National Art Center. "European Masterpieces from The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York," February 9–May 30, 2022.
"A Portrait of a Boy by Goya." Burlington Magazine 10 (October 1906), p. 54, ill. p. 55, as with Knoedler & Co., dated 1804.
Albert F. Calvert. Goya, an Account of His Life and Works. London, 1908, pls. 161, 163 (overall and detail), as "Portrait of a Boy".
Loan Exhibition of Paintings by El Greco and Goya. Exh. cat., New York M. Knoedler & Co. New York, 1915, p. 21, no. 18, as "Pepito Costa y Bonells," dated 1804, from the collection of "Countess Uda [sic for Vda] de Gandomar [sic], Madrid".
Arts & Decoration 5 (March 1915), ill. on cover.
A. de Beruete y Moret. Goya: Pintor de retratos. Madrid, 1916, pp. 126–27, 180, no. 254, pl. 47 [English ed., 1922, pp. 153–54, 214, no. 263, pl. 49], as "Pepito Corte"; notes that the date is so worn that it is difficult to say whether it reads 1813 or 1818, although it seems to be 1813 and the inscription and signature appear to be of a later date; calls its authenticity indisputable and locates it "outside of Spain".
August L. Mayer. Francisco de Goya. Munich, 1923, pp. 87, 190, no. 243, pl. 237 [English ed., 1924, pp. 68, 153, no. 243, pl. 237], as "Pepito Corte (Costa?) y Bonella," dated "1813 (or 1818?)," and in the collections of Andrew Mellon and later Mrs. William Haywood [sic]; doubts the authenticity of the signature.
A. de Beruete y Moret. Conferencias de arte. Madrid, 1924, p. 296, identifies Pepito as the son of a "doctor friend" of Goya.
Francisco Zapater y Gómez. Colección de cuatrocientas cuarenta y nueve reproducciones de cuadros, dibujos y aguafuertes de Don Francisco de Goya . . . publicadas por Don Francisco Zapater y Gómez en 1860. Madrid, 1924, pl. 148.
Tomás G. Larraya. Goya: Su vida, sus obras. Barcelona, 1928, p. 191, as in the Haywood [sic] collection, New York.
X. Desparmet Fitz-Gerald. L'oeuvre peint de Goya: Catalogue raisonné. Paris, 1928–50, vol. 2, pp. 173, 322, 331, no. 460, pl. 380, reads the date as 1808; states that the copy was made in 1906, before the original was sold [see Notes]; as in the collection of Harrison Williams, New York.
R. Gómez de la Serna. Goya. Madrid, , p. 277.
Esther Singleton. Old World Masters in New World Collections. New York, 1929, p. 272, ill. p. 271.
Ella S. Siple. "Art in America—Messrs. Knoedler's Exhibition." Burlington Magazine 55 (December 1929), pp. 331–32, pl. 3a.
"Old Masters in New York Galleries." Parnassus 2 (January 1930), pp. 3–4.
Harry Adsit Bull. "Notes of the Month." International Studio 95 (January 1930), p. 58, ill. p. 59.
A Loan Exhibition of Sixteen Masterpieces. Exh. cat., M. Knoedler & Co. New York, 1930, p. 25, no. 11, ill. n.p., as dated 1804.
Alfred M. Frankfurter. "Thirty-Five Portraits from American Collections." Art News 29, no. 33 (May 16, 1931), p. 4, ill. n.p.
Helen Comstock. "Loan Exhibition of Goya's Paintings." Connoisseur 93 (May 1934), p. 333.
Ella S. Siple. "A Goya Exhibition in America." Burlington Magazine 64 (June 1934), p. 287.
"Field Notes: Important Goya Show at Knoedler's." American Magazine of Art 27 (May 1934), p. 280, ill. p. 281.
Leonardo Estarico. Francisco de Goya: El hombre y el artista. Buenos Aires, 1942, p. 270, pl. 145, as dated 1813 or 1818.
Alfred M. Frankfurter. "Ex Collection Knoedler." Art News 45 (November 1946), p. 38, ill., dates it 1804.
Enrique Lafuente Ferrari. Antecedentes, coincidencias e influencias del arte de Goya: Catalogo ilustrado de la exposicion celebrada en 1932. Madrid, 1947, pp. 178, 276.
F. J. Sánchez Cantón in "Los niños en las obras de Goya." Goya (Cinco estudios). Saragossa, 1949, pp. 85–86 [reprinted, 2nd ed., 1978], dates it 1813, the year that Pepito's grandfather, Jaime Bonells, died; notes an element of sadness in this picture, which he knows only from a photograph.
F. J. Sanchez Canton. Vida y obras de Goya. Madrid, 1951, pp. 104, 171, pl. 72, is inclined to date it 1813 rather than 1818.
Valentín de Sambricio. "La exposición bordelesa de Goya, en Madrid." Seminario de arte aragones 4 (1952), p. 21, as dated 1813; identifies the sitter's parents as Fernanda Bonells and Rafael Costa.
F. M. Godfrey. Child Portraiture from Bellini to Cézanne. London, 1956, p. 45, pl. 86.
Juan Antonio Gaya Nuño. La pintura española fuera de España. Madrid, 1958, p. 174, no. 1045, reads the date in the inscription as 1808 (he notes that Mayer [Ref. 1923] considered the inscription apocryphal).
Elizabeth du Gué Trapier. Goya and His Sitters: A Study of His Style as a Portraitist. New York, 1964, p. 28, discusses it in the context of Goya's portrait of Pepito's mother, identified as Fernanda Bonells (Detroit Institute of Arts).
Xavier de Salas. "Los retratos de la familia Costa." Archivo español de arte 38 (January–March 1965), pp. 64–65, identifies Pepito's parents as Amalia Bonells and José Costa; traces early provenance of the picture.
Gaspar Gómez de la Serna. Goya y su España. Madrid, 1969, pp. 166, 285, dates it 1808.
Pierre Gassier and Juliet Wilson. Vie et oeuvre de Francisco Goya. Ed. François Lachenal. Fribourg, Switzerland, 1970, pp. 208, 214, 253, no. 895, ill. pp. 208, 262 [English ed., 1971], tentatively date it 1813, or the year proposed for the portrait of Pepito's mother (Detroit Institute of Arts), and suggest that her father's death in this year could explain her portrayal in black; mention a Goya miniature that may also depict Pepito.
José Gudiol. Goya 1746–1828: Biographie, analyse critique et catalogue des peintures. Paris, 1970, vol. 1, pp. 175, 328, no. 662; vol. 4, figs. 1072, 1073 (overall and detail) [Spanish ed., 1969–70; English ed., 1971, vol. 1, pp. 179, 335–36, no. 662; vol. 4, figs. 1072, 1073 (overall and detail)], dates it about 1813.
Enrique García-Herraiz. "Crónica de Nueva York." Goya (September–October 1972), p. 107, discusses this picture's first installation in the MMA collection galleries.
Jeannine Baticle. Letter to Olivier Aaron. December 29, 1972, believes Pepito was born about 1802–3, and appears here to be about seven or eight years old; dates our portrait during the Spanish War of Independence [1808–14].
David L. Shirey. "A Goya Valued at $2-Million is Given to Metropolitan." New York Times (July 27, 1972), pp. 1, 22, ill., relates that José Lopez-Rey dates the picture between 1804 and 1808 because Pepito's military suit fell out of fashion after 1808, but adds that most scholars date it between 1814 and 1818 for stylistic reasons.
Everett Fahy. "European Paintings: Goya's Portraits of Pepito Costa y Bonells." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 31 (Summer 1973), unpaginated [indexed as pp. 174–75] , ill. (overall and detail), dates it shortly after 1810 and remarks that seen alongside the portrait of Manuel Osorio (MMA 49.7.71) it shows "Goya's development from a poetic eighteenth-century painter to a profoundly moving realist of the early nineteenth"; sees "direct allusions to war" in Pepito's toys.
Rita de Angelis. L'opera pittorica completa di Goya. Milan, 1974, p. 127, no. 555, ill. p. 127 and colorpl. 48, dates it "1813 [?]".
Anthony M. Clark inThe Metropolitan Museum of Art: Notable Acquisitions, 1965–1975. New York, 1975, p. 78, ill., dates it about 1813.
Howard Hibbard. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1980, pp. 394, 398, fig. 715 (color).
José Camón Aznar. Fran. de Goya. Vol. 4, Saragossa, 1982, p. 13, ill. p. 37 (color), dates it 1813.
Charles S. Moffett inManet, 1832–1883. Ed. Françoise Cachin and Charles S. Moffett. Exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1983, p. 76, fig. a, cites this picture as an influence on Manet's painting, "Boy with a Sword" (1861; The Met 89.21.2), noting that in both works a child is standing among "attributes that reflect the values of adults" and that the sitters' facial expressions are similar.
Edward J. Sullivan. "Goya's 'Two Portraits' of Amalia Bonells de Costa." Arts Magazine 57 (January 1983), pp. 80–81, fig. 3, notes that the Detroit portrait of Pepito's mother is revealed by x-radiography to have been painted on two separate occasions, originally appearing in a floral, less modest dress, and later with greater sobriety, presumably after the death of her father in 1813; suggests that our portrait of Pepito was made on this later occasion.
Pierre Gassier. Goya: Témoin de son temps. Secaucus, 1983, p. 304 [French ed., 1983], dates it about 1813.
Barbara Burn. Metropolitan Children. New York, 1984, p. 40, ill. (color).
Jeannine Baticle. "Goya portraitiste." Biennale des antiquaires no. 439 (September 1988), p. 92.
Walter Liedtke. The Royal Horse and Rider: Painting, Sculpture, and Horsemanship, 1500–1800. New York, 1989, p. 320, no. 208, ill., dates it about 1813, in the aftermath of the French Revolution, and calls it a "dismounted equestrian portrait" in which a child's play alludes to the role once inhabited by Spain's rulers
Milton Esterow. "Masterpiece Theater." Art News 89 (Summer 1990), pp. 134–35, ill., dates it about 1800; quotes Everett Fahy's description of this portrait: "I find that even though it's a child, the artist is able to express his feelings about war and the grim realities that this child is facing as he grows up in a no-longer-innocent world".
Nigel Glendinning. Goya, la década de los caprichos: Retratos, 1792–1804. Exh. cat.Madrid, 1992, p. 123, dates our portrait and that of Pepito' s mother between 1808 and 1815.
José Luis Morales y Marín. Goya: Catálogo de la pintura. Saragossa, 1994, p. 321, no. 441, ill. [English ed., 1997], dates it about 1813.
Susan Alyson Stein inGoya in The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1995, pp. 45, 55, 67, fig. 37 (color).
Eleanor Sayre. "One Connoisseur's View of Goya." Goya in the Museum's Collection: Controversies and Insights. October 20, 1995, observes that the "calligraphy of the white brushstrokes on his trousers... suggest to us something of the spirit of the little boy".
Paul Jeromack. "Goya: Truth and Enlightenment." Art Newspaper no. 51 (September 1995), p. 12.
Katharine Baetjer. European Paintings in The Metropolitan Museum of Art by Artists Born Before 1865: A Summary Catalogue. New York, 1995, p. 165, ill., as "José Costa y Bonells (died 1870), Called Pepito".
José Manuel Arnaiz. "Nuevas andanzas de Goya: Falsos y auténticos en el Metropolitan." Galería antiquaria no. 136 (February 1996), p. 44, ill. (color), criticizes interpretion of the toys in this picture as allusions to the Spanish War of Independence.
Jeannine Baticle. "Goya au Metropolitan." Connaissance des arts no. 527 (April 1996), pp. 63, 66, fig. 9 (color).
Juan J. Luna inGoya: 250 aniversario. Exh. cat.Madrid, 1996, pp. 33, 410–11, no. 140, ill. pp. 233 (color), 410, dates it about 1813 and finds allusions to war in the picture.
Juliet Wilson-Bareau. "Goya in The Metropolitan Museum of Art." Burlington Magazine 138 (February 1996), pp. 101–2, describes the sitter as a "child of the war years".
Enrique Arias Anglés. Goya. Madrid, 1996, p. 132, ill. p. 133 (color), dates it about 1813 and notes its influence on similar French impressionist paintings.
Katharine Baetjer inThe Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York: Chefs-d'œuvre de la peinture européenne. Exh. cat., Fondation Pierre Gianadda. Martigny, 2006, pp. 162–66, no. 29, ill. (color, overall and detail) [Catalan ed., Barcelona, 2006, pp. 88–91, no. 23, ill. (color, overall and detail)], believes the inscribed date most likely read as 1813.
Gudrun Maurer inGoya en tiempos de guerra. Ed. Manuela B. Mena Marqués. Exh. cat., Museo Nacional del Prado. Madrid, 2008, pp. 220–21, no. 48, ill. (color).
Katharine Baetjer inEuropean Masterpieces from The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. Exh. cat., Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art. South Brisbane, 2021, pp. 199, 231, ill. p. 198 (color).
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