Francisco José de Goya y Lucientes
Spanish, 1746–1828
Friar Pedro Shoots El Maragato as His Horse Runs Off
c. 1806

Oil on panel
11 1/2 x 15 5/8 in. (29.2 x 38.5 cm)
Mr. and Mrs. Martin A. Ryerson Collection, 1933.1075

Francisco José de Goya y Lucientes was a passionate chronicler of the spectrum of human experience, from the mundane to the most brutal political events. The story of the capture of the dreaded Spanish bandit El Maragato in 1806 by the humble monk Pedro de Zaldivia caught the artist’s imagination. It also caught the attention of the Spanish population. The event was publicized in newspapers and pamphlets and became the subject of ballads, popular prints, and paintings. Monk Pedro de Zaldivia Shoots the Bandit Maragato is the fifth panel in a series of six that illustrates the events as they unfolded in the town of Oropesa, west of Toledo, Spain.

This scene presents the degrading and somewhat humorous downfall of the bandit: the monk Pedro, a brother of the Franciscan order, shoots Maragato in the buttocks to prevent him from fleeing. Goya’s broad and quick brushwork pinpoints the essential drama of the event. The painting resembles an immediate, on-the-spot sketch, as if it were meant to accompany a newspaper story that publicized the current event. Goya is known as a Romantic painter for his interest in the irrational aspects of human existence, both criminal and virtuous. Like many other Romantic painters, Goya opposed the rationalist claims of Enlightenment thinkers, who believed in the perfectibility of humanity based on logic. His depictions of contemporary society often reveal the flaws in this more optimistic ideology.

The serial aspect of these six panels confirms the documentary element of Goya’s work. In the first panel, the monk Pedro unwittingly stumbles upon the bandit El Maragato, who raises his gun to the monk and will shortly lock him up with the rest of the Oropesa townspeople. In the second panel, the monk gains freedom from the jail cell by offering the criminal a pair of shoes. He then uses this opportunity to wrest the gun from the bandit and club him with it, illustrated in the third and fourth panels. After shooting him in buttocks, the monk binds El Maragato’s hands with rope to await the authorities. The conclusion of this event, not depicted by Goya, was the public hanging and drawing and quartering of the bandit in Madrid.

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