When the dreaded bandit El Maragato was seized in 1806 by the humble monk Pedro de Zaldivia, a lay brother of a Franciscan barefoot order, the story swept through Spain. Not only did daily newspapers and pamphlets publicize it, but songs, ballads, and popular prints also praised the heroic deed. Although Francisco de Goya was chief painter to the Spanish king at the time, he was interested in the whole range of human experience, including contemporary Spanish events. The tale of Zaldivia and Maragato evidently captured his imagination. This small, lively painting belongs to a series of six in the Art Institute, which, like a modern-day comic strip, dramatically illustrates the event. This is the climactic scene, presenting the bandit’s humiliating and somewhat comical downfall at the hands of the brave monk. Here, as in all the panels, the artist’s broad, quick brushwork dispenses with unnecessary detail to pinpoint the essential drama of the event. Goya may have made these paintings for himself rather than for a commission, since they were still listed among his possessions in an 1812 inventory.
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