Listed in The Telegraph’s 10 best cultural holidays in Spain for 2017.
Listed in The Telegraph’s 50 greatest art, food and culture holidays on Earth.
The eighteenth century was an uneventful chapter in the history of Spanish painting. Foreigners dominated, and the prettiness of Rococo vitiated the traditional strengths of naturalism and expressionistic intensity.
The arrival of Francisco de Goya y Lucientes into this enervated world had an explosive effect. Goya’s early years were spent in unpropitious circumstances having been born in a remote village on the Aragonese plain. He learnt his craft in the equally unpromising location of Zaragoza before escaping to Madrid. At first he made little headway in this more competitive environment, but after a couple of years in Italy his fortunes began to change.
Upon returning to Madrid, he was employed in making cartoons for the Royal Tapestry Factory. His astonishingly candid portraits were no barrier to his rapid rise to success, and in due course he became Principal Painter to the King and Director of the San Fernando Academy.
However, the experience of the Napoleonic occupation and the War of Independence, and an illness which led to deafness, stimulated some of the most nightmarish images in the history of art.
Fly at c.10.40 am from London Heathrow to Madrid (Iberia Airlines) and continue by coach to Zaragoza (c. 4 hours including stops). An evening walk includes the basilica of El Pilar with ceiling paintings by the youthful Goya. First of two nights in Zaragoza.
Zaragoza. The Fine Arts Museum has an extensive collection of works by Goya while a savings bank displays his works in its Plateresque patio. Outside the city, the monastery of Aula Dei has Goya frescoes in its church.
Muel, Fuendetodos, Madrid. See Goya’s ceiling paintings at the hermitage in Muel. Continue to Fuendetodos, where Goya’s childhood home survives and the Museum of Etching contains his complete works. Take the high speed AVE train from Zaragoza to Madrid with lunch on board. On arrival visit the Prado to study Goya’s cartoons. First of three nights in Madrid.
Madrid. The Lázaro Galdiano museum has an early Goya and two of his famous witchcraft scenes. Continue to the Royal Tapestry Factory where Goya worked as a designer for 20 years. At the Royal Palace at El Escorial see Goya tapestries that are not on public display.
Madrid. A second visit to the Prado includes Goya’s Black Paintings. The Academy of San Fernando holds paintings and etchings by the artist. In the afternoon visit the Royal Palace to see works created while Goya was painter to Charles III in the 1780s. Evening visit to the privately-owned Palacio de San Bernardino with a collection of art by Vicente Lopez, Madrazo, Sorolla and of course Goya.
Madrid. The ceiling of the church of San Antonio de la Florida is filled with impressionistic works by Goya and the artist is buried here. The Basilica of San Francisco el Grande has a large altarpiece by Goya, painted in the early stages of his career, while the church of Escuelas Pías San Antón was home to one of his last, great altarpieces. Fly from Madrid to London Heathrow, arriving c. 6.00pm.
Price, per person
Two sharing: £2,110 or £1,970 without flights. Single occupancy: £2,400 or £2,260 without flights.
Flights (Euro Traveller) with Iberia Airlines Airways (Airbus 321); first-class rail travel between Zaragoza and Madrid; travel by private coach; hotel accommodation as described below; breakfasts; 4 dinners with wine, water, coffee; 1 light lunch on the train; all admissions; all tips; all taxes; the services of the lecturer and tour manager.
Hotel Catalonia el Pilar, Zaragoza: a modern 4-star hotel, comfortable and excellently situated. NH Palacio de Tepa, Madrid: a small and excellently located hotel, walking distance from the major museums including the Prado, rated locally as 5-star.
There is quite a lot of walking on this tour, and a lot of standing around in museums. One long coach journey and one journey by train. Average distance by coach per day: 62 miles.
Between 10 and 22 participants.
Before booking, please refer to the FCO website to ensure you are happy with the travel advice for the destination(s) you are visiting: www.fco.gov.uk.