Time, Truth and History

Sketch for Allegory on the Spanish Constitution, Nationalmuseum, Stockholm

about 1797–99 or 1804
Francisco Goya y Lucientes (Spanish, 1746–1828)

Catalogue Raisonné

G&W 696; Gu 482


41.6 x 32.7 cm (16 3/8 x 12 7/8 in.)

Accession Number


Medium or Technique

Oil on canvas

Not On View





A rough sketch from the early part of Goya’s career, this painting represents the winged Time, holding an hourglass, revealing naked Truth to the viewer. In the foreground, History records the event in her book, while looking over her shoulder in order to acknowledge the past. This composition was later used by Goya in a large-scale allegory relating to Spain’s liberation from Napoleonic rule. In that version, the figure of Truth is replaced by one that may represent the Spanish nation, and the threatening bats and owls lurking overhead have disappeared.


Given by the artist to Juan Carnicero, Madrid [see note 1]. About 1875, Alejandro de Coupigny, Madrid [see note 1]. 1918, purchased in Madrid by Ralph W. Curtis for Horatio Greenough Curtis, Boston [see note 2]; by descent to his wife, Mrs. Horatio Greenough Curtis; 1927, gift of Mrs. Horatio Greenough Curtis to the MFA. (Accession Date: July 21, 1927)

[1] The sketch was first published in "El grabador al aguafuerte," Colección de obras originales y copias de las selectas de autores españoles (Madrid, 1875), vol. 2, pl. 21 (etching after the original painting), as in the possession of Alejandro de Coupigny. It is said to have been given by the artist to Juan Carñicero, librarian of the king. [2] According to a signed note by Horatio G. Curtis (in the MFA curatorial file). A letter written on stationery of the Senate of Spain and signed "R" (March 16, 1916; in the MFA curatorial file) mentions seeing the sketch, though in whose possession it was at that time is not documented.

Credit Line

Gift of Mrs. Horatio Greenough Curtis in memory of Horatio Greenough Curtis