While the design mafia flocked to the myriad events allied to the opening of the London Design Festival, your scribe spent a blissful morning yesterday at the British Museum press preview of the exhibition “Renaissance to Goya: Prints and Drawings from Spain,” after which she admired the 5th c BC Motya Charioteer, on loan from Regione Siciliana, Assessorato dei Beni Culturali e dell’Identità Siciliana.

Your scribe chatted with Dr Mark McDonald, Curator of the exhibition, about Goya’s etching “The Blind Guitarist” (El ciego de la guitarra), 1778, the artist’s largest print and study for a tapestry. In 1775 Goya was living in Madrid and working on tapestry designs for Real Fábrica de Santa Bárbara. Your scribe assumes this tapestry was woven for Real Sitio del Pardo (Palacio del Pardo), but welcomes clarification from readers.

The Blind Guitarist, Francisco de Goya, etching, 1778. Collection of The British Museum. Not for reproduction. NB: glass reflection in upper quadrant.

The composition is sketchy, particularly in the central zone with its thicket of figures. The exhibition label explains Goya had to modify the design “because the weavers found it impossible to interpret” the drawing for a cartoon. Were Goya’s loose and fluid lines evidence of his faith in the skill of the weavers or arrogance? “Option A”, Dr McDonald replied without hesitation, “certainly not arrogance”. Goya was, says McDonald, confident in the weavers’ skills, but “modified” and “simplified the central nine heads” when the weavers found the zone “impossible to translate”. The exhibition is open until 6 January 2012. DJ

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