“Maha dressed” and “Maha nude”: How passion flared up around the scandalous paintings of Francisco Goya
Surprisingly, the paintings of the famous Spanish artist, painted at the turn of the enlightened XVIII and XIX century gold, became the causes of scandals until the liberated XX. Despite the fact that the nude style in art is a tradition and it seems that it should not shock anyone, these works became “markers” that showed that society is ready to see naked goddesses in pictures, but it is completely different about the image of real beauty, earthly women.
Machami in Spain was called the dandy of commoners. They are usually considered to be “urban dwellers”, but in the XVIII century they were residents of the slums of Madrid. They personified the very ideal of female attractiveness in the Spanish sense, combining romanticism, self-esteem and bright temperament. Therefore, on the well-known canvases, Goya reflected not just an abstract standard of feminine beauty, but a very concrete national character.
The portrait was originally conceived as anonymous and still keeps its secret. The fact is that at the time of its creation, the customs of Spain did not allow artists to depict a naked female body without mythological overtones or negative coloring (for example, a repentant sinner). The Inquisition, which existed in this country almost until the middle of the XIX century, had a great influence on art, exercising strict censorship. While drawing a naked blink, Goya deliberately violated the law, therefore, it is believed that her clothed twin was created.
Accurate information about how these scandalous canvases were created has not been preserved. Most likely, the customer of the bold picture was Manuel Godoy, the first minister of Spain and the favorite of the royal couple. It was so dangerous to keep nudes at home in those days, that the naked maha was hidden from prying eyes with a swing dressed. With the help of an ingenious mechanism, the upper sheet was removed, opening the erotic scene that was incredible for that time.
And yet, despite all the precautions, in 1808 the picture was discovered by the Inquisition. The canvas, together with other objects of art of “dubious content” was confiscated, and the highest dignitary of the kingdom appeared in court. There, Manuel Godoy did not unlock and quickly discovered the name of the accomplice of this terrible crime – that is, the author of the canvas. Francisco Goya was also accused of immorality. His works were called “extremely indecent and threatening public interests.” Fortunately, the artist managed to avoid more serious consequences, but only because the Spanish Inquisition at the beginning of the 19th century was no longer the same.
It would seem that in the twentieth century, when many debates about the art and works of Francisco Goya subsided, were considered undoubted masterpieces of the world artistic culture, there should be no more confusion with the paintings. However, the nudity of the beautiful mahi continued to confuse the public. In 1930, to the 100th anniversary of the artist’s death, a series of three postage stamps was issued. The image of the nude mahi again caused a scandal, not only in conservative Spain, but also in other countries. Moral moralists talked about the possible corruption of children who are fond of philately and especially emphasized the fact that an indecent image should be licked before sticking to an envelope!
Interestingly, by the end of 1930, the US Postal Department banned all mail from Machami. Such letters should have been withdrawn and sent back to the addressee. This postal struggle continued for several decades – in 1952, an incident occurred in Belgium, when the police arrested the brand of naked maxi, insulting the public in the window of a local store.
Immediately after World War II, another time bomb exploded related to this picture. Now it was about the identity of the woman who served her as a model. For many years it was believed that Goya wrote his masterpiece from a famous Spanish aristocrat. Maria Caetana de Silva, 13th Duchess of Alba was indeed the patroness and, most likely, the artist’s mistress, as well as a model for many of his paintings. However, there was no reliable evidence of her posing for Mahi.
It turned out that the aristocratic descendants of Alba are very unhappy with the rumors that the beauty of their bold great-great-grandmother inspired the artist and is now put on public display. In 1945, they decided to prove the innocence of their proud clan to an indecent masterpiece.