A Woman and two Children by a Fountain

Francisco de Goya y Lucientes

Una mujer y dos niños junto a una fuente

Goya y Lucientes, Francisco de

Fuendetodos (Zaragoza), 1746 - Burdeos, 1828

A Woman and two Children by a Fountain, 1786

© Colección Carmen Thyssen-Bornemisza

Works owned by Mr. Borja Thyssen-Bornemisza

Oil on canvas

35,5 x 18,5 cm


Artwork history

  • Dukes of Osuna, 1798.

  • Lafora, Madrid, 1896.

  • Duke of Valencia, Madrid.

  • Mercedes of Bourbon, Madrid.

  • Carlos of Bourbon Madrid.

  • Ferrer Alonso, Madrid.

  • Private Collection, Madrid.

  • P. & D. Colnaghi, London, 1960.

  • Private collection, Herefordshire, England.

  • E. V. Thaw, New York.

  • Thyssen Bornemisza Collection, Lugano, 1983.

  •  Borja Thyssen-Bornemisza  Collection.


Exhibition & Sales Casa Ducal de Osuna, Madrid, nº 81.


Exhibition “Centenario del Dos de Mayo”, Madrid, nº 3661.


Goya, The Hague, Mauritshuis; Paris, Musée de l´Orangerie, nº 9.

1993 - 1994

Goya. El capricho y la invención, Madrid, Museo Nacional del Prado; London, Royal Academy of Arts; Chicago (IL), The Art Institute of Chicago, nº 23.


De Canaletto a Kandinsky. Obras maestras de la Colección Carmen Thyssen-Bornemisza, Madrid, Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza, nº 13, p. 72.

1996 - 1997

From Zurbaran to Picasso. Masterpieces from the Collection of Carmen Thyssen-Bornemisza, Shanghai, Shanghai Museum; Beijing, China National Art Gallery, p. 28.


Capolavori dalla Collezione di Carmen Thyssen-Bornemisza: 60º anniversario dell'apertura della Pinacotecca di Villa Favorita, Lugano, Villa Favorita, nº 38, p. 114.

1998 - 1999

Masterworks from the Carmen Thyssen-Bornemisza Collection, Tokyo, Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum; Takaoka, Takaoka Art Museum; Nagoya, Matsuzaka Art Museum; Sendai, Miyagi Museum of Art, nº 11, pp. 40-41.

1999 - 2000

Naturalezas pintadas de Brueghel a Van Gogh. Pintura naturalista en la Colección Carmen Thyssen-Bornemisza, Madrid, Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza, nº 4, pp. 44-47.


De Van Dyck a Goya. Maestros Antiguos de la Colección Carmen Thyssen-Bornemisza, Castellón, Museo de Bellas Artes, nº 21, pp. 90-92.


Il trionfo del colore. Collezione Carmen Thyssen-Bornemisza. Monet, Van Gogh, Gauguin, Toulouse-Lautrec, Matisse, Kandinsky, Rome, Palazzo Ruspoli, pp. 48-50.

2005 - 2006

Goya. Prophet der moderne, Berlin, Nationalgalerie; Viena, Kunsthistorisches Museum, nº 16, p. 106, illus. p. 107.

  • -Yriarte, Charles: Goya: sa biographie, les fresques, les toiles, les tapisseries, les eaux-fortes et le catalogue de l’oeuvre. Paris, H. Plon, 1867, p. 145.

  • -Cruzada Villaamil, G.: Los tapices de Goya. Madrid, 1870, nº XXXV, p. 140.

  • -Viñaza, Conde de la: Goya, su tiempo, su vida, sus obras. Madrid, Tipografia de Manuel G. Hernández, 1887, p. 281.

  • -Loga, Valerian von: Francisco de Goya. Berlin, Grote, 1903, nº 558, p. 220.

  • -Beruete y Moret, Aureliano de: Goya pintor de retratos. Madrid, Blass y Cia, 1916 [English ed.: London, 1922], vol 1: Composiciones y figuras (1917), nº 101.

  • -Mayer, August L.: Francisco de Goya. Munich, F. Bruckmann, 1923, nº 681

  • -Desparmet Fitz-Gerald, Xavière: L’oeuvre peint de Goya: catalogue raisonné. Paris, F. de Nobele, 1928-1950, nº 149.

  • -Sambricio, V. de: Tapices de Goya. Madrid, 1946, nº 45-A.

  • -Nordström, F.: Goya, Saturn and Melancholy. Studies in the Art of Goya. Stockholm, 1962, pp. 50-54.

  • -Gassier, Pierre and Wilson, Juliet: Vie et oeuvre de Francisco Goya. Fribourg, Office du Livre, 1970, nº 261, p. 97.

  • -Gudiol, José: Goya. 1746-1828. Biografia, estudio analitico y catálogo de sus pinturas. 4 vols. Barcelona, Ed. Poligrafa, 1970, vol. 1, nº 222, p. 251.

  • -Angelis, Rita de: L’opera pittorica completa di Goya. Milan, Rizzoli, 1974. Classici dell’arte; vol. 74, nº 219.

  • -Águeda Villar, M.: ”Novedades en torno a una serie de tapices de Goya”. In Boletín del Museo del Prado. 1984, nº 13, p. 44.

  • -Gudiol, José: Goya. 1746-1828. Biographie, étude analytique et catalogue de ses peintures. Barcelona, Polígrafa, 1984, nº 216.

  • -Arnáiz, J. M.: Francisco de Goya. Cartones y tapices. Madrid, 1987, nº 49-B.

  • -Tomlinson, J. A.: Francisco de Goya. The Tapestry Cartoons and early Career at the Court of Madrid. Cambridge (MA), 1989, pp. 175, 179.

  • -Watteville, Caroline de: The Thyssen-Bornemisza Collection. Guide to the Exhibited Works. Lugano – Milan, Electa, 1989, p. 127, illus. c.

  • -Goya. El capricho y la invención: cuadros de gabinete, bocetos y miniaturas. [Exhib. cat. Madrid, Museo del Prado – Chicago (IL), The Art Institute, 1993-1994]. Wilson-Bareau, Juliet and Mena Marqués, Manuela B. (eds. lit). Madrid, Museo del Prado, 1993, pp. 168-169, 354-355 [ Sheet by Wilson].

  • -Tomlinson, J. A.: Francisco de Goya. Los cartones para tapices y los comienzos de su carrera en la corte de Madrid. Madrid, 1993, pp. 228-231.

  • -Morales y Marín, José Luis: Goya. Catálogo de la pintura. Zaragoza, Real Academia de Nobles y Bellas Artes de San Luis, 1994, nº 163, p. 196.

  • -Luna, Juan J. and Moreno de las Heras, Margarita: Goya. 250º aniversario: del 30 de marzo al 2 de junio 1996, Museo del Prado. Madrid, Museo del Prado, 1996, p. 322, note 8 [Sheet by Moreno de las Heras].

  • -De Canaletto a Kandinsky. Obras maestras de la colección Carmen Thyssen-Bornemisza Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza. [Exhib. cat. Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza]. Llorens Serra, Tomàs (ed.). Madrid, Fundación Colección Thyssen-Bornemisza, 1996, nº 13, p. 72. [Sheet by Enrique Valdivieso].

  • -Capolavori dalla Collezione di Carmen Thyssen-Bornemisza: 60º anniversario dell’apertura della Pinacotecca di Villa Favorita. Llorens Serra, Tomàs (ed.). [Exhib. cat. Lugano, Villa Favorita]. Geneva-Milan, Skira, 1997, nº 38, p. 114. [Sheet by José Luis Díez].

  • -Colección Carmen Thyssen-Bornemisza. Arnaldo, Javier (ed.). 2 vols. Madrid, Fundación Colección Thyssen-Bornemisza, 2004, vol. 1, pp. 168, 170, illus. pp. 169, 171 (detail) [ Sheet by José Luis Díez].

  • -Goya – Prophet der Moderne. Schuster, Peter-Klaus; Seipel, Wilfried and Mena Marqués, Manuela B. (eds.). [Exhib. cat., Berlin, Alte Nationalgalerie – Vienna, Kunsthistorisches Museum, 2005-2006]. Cologne, DuMont, 2005, p. 106, illus. p. 107 [Sheet by Manuela B. Mena Marqués].

Expert report

This charming small painting is the preparatory study for the cartoon traditionally known as “Poor Folk at the Fountain” painted by Goya between 1786 and 1787 to serve as the model for one of the tapestries mean to hang in the Dining Room of the Prince and Princess of Asturias in the Palace of El Pardo, near Madrid.

Decorating this room was Goya’s first commission for the Crown after he was appointed Painter to the King in 1786. The artist was asked to supply “paintings with playful and pleasant themes, that are required for that Royal Residence”. He planned a group of scenes that alluded to the four seasons”. For the wall associated with winter, divided into three parts by two large windows, Goya painted the cartoon entitled Snown fall, undoubtedly one of his most remarkable compositions of those produced for the Royal Tapestry Manufactory. It was flanked on each side by The Wounded Brickleyer and A Woman and Two Children by a Fountain. Because the available wall surfaces were so narrow, the cartoons have notably elongated proportions. Two compositions with animals, Cats Fighting and Birds Flying, were destined for the spaces above the windows.

In order to obtain royal approval for his decorative project, Goya quickly made sketches for all of the scenes destined for the room. He referred to them in a letter to his friend Zapater of 12 September 1786: “I am currently extremely occupied making preliminary sketches for a room in which the Prince eats”. He must have shown these sketches to the monarch not much later, since he presented a bill at the end of that same year for the cost of “a carriage to the Royal Residence of El Escorial in order to present to His Majesty (may God preserve him) the Sketches for the Dining Room of El Pardo.

Among the attractive and colourful scenes that make up this set, it is undoubtedly in those dedicated to winter that Goya manifests, for the first time in this sort of decorative cartoon, a marked social awareness of the everyday reality around him, the same consciousness that would evolve toward the more extreme and dramatic works characteristic of his maturity.

While the principal scene shows wayfarers returning from an animal slaughter sheltering themselves from a snowstorm in a snow-covered landscape, one of the flanking canvases shows a bricklayer being carried his companions after having fallen from some scaffolding, while its pair shows a woman with two children heading for a fountain.

The preparatory studies that Goya made for these last two pictures differ markedly from their cartoons. In the first of these, the bricklayer is drunk, not wounded. With regard to its pair, the present sketch shows an agreeable-Iooking young woman, accompanied by two children (undoubtedly her own) who are patiently  waiting for one of the jugs to be filled with the water pouring from the fountain. One of the children, seen from behind and wearing a hat, holds another jug, while the other, smaller child is crying has his arms crossed in anger. In the background we see the outline of a modest house.

There is nothing in this small sketch that suggests a winter setting. This aspect would be completely altered in the definitive cartoon which differs considerably from the present preparatory sketch. In the final work, the landscape is covered with snow and a tree with bare limbs has been added to emphasise the verticality of the composition and to reinforce the sensation of unpleasant cold, also suggested by the figure of the child who has placed his hands under his clothes in order to keep them warm. The third jug leaning by the fountain has also been omitted and is now held by the woman, while in the sketch her hand rested on the child’s shoulder to console his crying. In addition, the clothes worn by the characters are modest but decorous, a feature emphasized in the definitive cartoon, which although indicating the humble status of the family, is far from depicting them as beggars, It has recently been suggested that this family might be that of the bricklayer in the other picture. Goya’s intention may have been a reference to the decree recently promulgated by Carlos III in favour of the victims of work-related accidents and of their farnilies.

Aside from this aspect, the sketch is a splendid example of Goya’s exquisitely refined technique which he used in this sort of small format painting, consisting of an extremely delicate and careful treatment of the figures, executed with very light, vibrant brushstrokes which shade with extraordinary sensitivity the faces and clothes. This is evident in minute details such as the tied laces of the smaller child, the fringe of the shawl tied at the woman’s waist or the effects of light that model her face.

All of the sketches painted by Goya for this decorative scheme were bought by the Dukes of Osuna on 6 May 1798 for their residence at La Alameda. The present one does not, however, appear in the bill of sale and it is therefore likely that it was given by the artist to the Dukes, his friends and patrons.

At the sale of the Osuna Collection the sketch was acquired by the art dealer Lafora for 1,000 pesetas.

José Luis Díez