Goya's Forge, painted about 1815-20, with its pervasive darkness, vigorous brushstrokes, and proletarian subjectmatter, introduces a note of harsh realism into the generally calm and restful pictures in The Frick Collection. The size of this painting—normally reserved for religious or mythological scenes—endows the image of backbreaking labor with a sense of monumentality. In composition, the work evokes the traditional depictions of the forge of Vulcan, here updated to the gritty reality of modern industrial Europe. For the steel magnate Frick, the subject of this Spanish masterpiece must have had strong resonance. Little detracts from the raw power of the three workers arranged in a pyramidal composition around a red-hot sheet of molten steel. The gestures of the smiths complement one another. The energy of the figure closest to us rises upward from a powerful base of muscular legs through the hoisted arm and sledgehammer. His counterpart bows downward and forward, holding the sheet in place with tongs. A stooped old man, holding bellows, juts in between the two young men—a grim reminder of the inexorable toll of time and unrelenting labor.


  • Title: The Forge
  • Creator: Francisco de Goya y Lucientes
  • Date Created: Around 1815-1820
  • Physical Dimensions: w1250.95 x h1816.1 in
  • Type: painting
  • External Link: See more on The Frick Collection website
  • Medium: Oil on canvas
  • Style: Genre
  • Provenance: Javier Goya, son of the artist. Purchased in 1836 by Baron Taylor and Adrien Dauzats for the French government. King Louis Philippe of France (died in exile at Claremont, Surrey, in 1850). Louis Philippe sale, May 2-21, 1853, Christie's, Lot 354, sold to Henry Labouchere (afterward Lord Taunton). Inherited by Labouchere's grandson, E.A.V. Stanley, Quantock Lodge, Bridgewater, Somerset. Agnew. Bought by Colnaghi and Knoedler, July 1914. Frick, 1914. Source: Paintings in The Frick Collection: French, Italian and Spanish. Volume II. New York: The Frick Collection, 1968.
  • Painter: Francisco de Goya y Lucientes
  • Original Title: La fragua
  • Credit Line: Henry Clay Frick Bequest

Additional Items

The Forge (Supplemental)

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