Alma Mater Museum

Basílica del Pilar


The Alma Mater Museum is located in the Archbishop´s Palace of the city, which was built on the bases of what was the Roman Basilica situated in the forum.

The museum is situated in the oldest part of the Archbishop´s Palace, specifically in the area known as the bishop´s houses. The visit takes place in the rooms where the Kings of Aragon lived from the XII century, and which are built in several styles: Romanic, Gothic, Mudejar and Renaissance, together with areas redecorated in styles typical of the XIX and XX  centuries. Moreover, the museum has a temporary exhibition room which completes its programme.

In one of its rooms is the work Portrait of Archbishop Joaquín Company by Francisco de Goya.

Portrait of the Archbishop Joaquín Company

The Franciscan Joaquín Company y Soler (1732-1813) governed the diocese of Zaragoza between 1797 and 1800, the year in which he was appointed Bishop of Valencia. Besides occupying the most important posts in his order, he was he was a Grandee of Spain first class and consultant theologian of the Real Junta of the Order of Carlos III, a member (1797) and Director (1797-1800) of the Royal Aragonese Economic Society of Friends of the Land, and President (1798-1800) of the Royal Academy of Noble and Fine Arts of San Luis de Zaragoza.

In the opinion of Pablo J. Rico (1991), the portrait would have been painted at the request of the prelate after he was appointed to occupy the bishopric of Valencia (August 1800). The sessions for the painting from life, which led to the preparatory sketch (Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid) would have taken place in Madrid, from where the definitive painting would travel to Zaragoza to occupy its place in the portrait gallery of the Archbishop´s Palace.

Therefore, this work corresponds to the most fertile period of Goya the portrait painter, who became the First Court Painter in October 1799. The subject appears standing and full length, slightly in the three quarter position but with the head turned towards the spectator. He is holding up his hand with a card with the signature of Goya. He is wearing a cassock and a simple cross hangs on his chest: In the upper right-hand corner is the family coat of arms with the episcopal tassels. At the base of the painting there is an inscription, and another in the bottom left-hand corner. The figures appears in a neutral space with a shadowy background, only defined by the shadows projected on the ground.

This is a model of an episcopal portrait sober and austere in its staging, magnificently resolved, with substantial economy of resources, though colour and light, in the line of Velazquez, with outstanding psychological penetration and a strong power of attraction. The cold, blue and green tones used in the habit mean that the skin colour of the face and hands, painted in warmer shades, achieve the prominence sought. The red stains of the lining and the skullcap enliven the whole in which the transparencies and pleats of the surplice are outstanding.

As regards the inscriptions, the first and original one is written on two lines at the base of the painting and is partially covered by the frame and the other is written on twelve lines which are perfectly visible and are located in the lower left-hand corner and repeats with slight differences the biographical data of the first inscription, except for the omission of the reference to the monarch Carlos IV and to the Pope Pius VII. Neither did this information appear in the portrait of Company of the church of San Martín in Valencia (lost or destroyed in 1936), in which the subject was wearing the Cross of the Order of Carlos III, reasons which have led to Martín Soria thinking that this second portrait was painted by Agustín Esteve, a disciple and collaborator of Goya

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