The J. Paul Getty Museum

The Eagle Hunter

Object Details


The Eagle Hunter




Spain (Place Created)


about 1812–1820


Brush and brown ink with brown wash on laid paper

Object Number:



20 × 14 cm (7 7/8 × 5 1/2 in.)

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Object Description

In this drawing, bold line work, various gradations of wash, and striking use of the reserve compellingly render eagle hunting as a brutal and slightly comic task. The hunter precariously dangles from a precipice by a thin rope taut around his waist. Only a metal cooking pot on his head and padded trousers protect him from the sharp beaks of the eaglets and the rugged cliff. Hovering in midair while attempting to pluck the young birds from a nest tucked into a crevice, the eagle hunter remains completely unaware of his impending doom. With sharp talons outstretched, a large adult eagle is about to return to the nest with a hapless rabbit in its beak. The open wicker basket that insecurely hangs from the hunter’s waist and holds an eaglet further points to the futility of this act. The scene could very well be an illustration of the proverb: He who would take will himself be taken. Goya drew the proposed composition with common writing ink on inexpensive Spanish paper—materials that the artist was forced to use during the Napoleonic invasion of Spain. Like his subject matter, the drawing medium and support themselves bear the imprint of desperation. Originally part of Goya’s Images of Spain Album (Album F), this sheet is a highly personal rumination that is not related to further work in any direct sense.


Javier Goya y Bayeu, Spanish, 1784 - 1854 (Madrid, Spain), inherited from his father, 1828; by inheritance to his son Mariano Goya y Goicoechea, 1854.


Mariano Goya y Goicoechea, sold to Federico de Madrazo and/or Roman de Garreta y Huerta around or after 1855.


Paul Lebas (Paris, France) [sold, Hôtel Drouot, Paris, April 3, 1877, lot 53 to Emile Calando.]


Emile Calando (L.837), French, 1840 - 1898, by inheritance to his son, Emile Calando, 1898.


E. Calando (L.426b), French, died 1953, by inheritance to Pierre Emile F. Calando.


Pierre Emile F. Calando, French, 1904 - 1992

- 2010

Private Collection (Paris, France) [sold, Sotheby's, London, July 6, 2010, lot 9, to Jean-Luc Baroni.]

2010 -

Jean-Luc Baroni, Ltd., sold to Private Collection, London.

- 2017

Private Collection, sold to the J. Paul Getty Museum, 2017.

Goya's Realism (February 11 to May 7, 2000)
  • State Museum (Copenhagen), February 11 to May 7, 2000
Michelangelo to Degas: Major New Acquisitions (January 17 to April 22, 2018)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center (Los Angeles), January 17 to April 22, 2018

Hôtel Drouot, Paris. 105 Dessins par Francisco Goya. April 3, 1877, lot 53.

Gassier, Pierre. "Une source inédite de dessins de Goya en France au XIXe siècle." Gazette des Beaux-Arts 80, no. 6 (July-August 1972), p. 113, no. 53.

Gassier, Pierre. The Drawings of Goya. The Complete Albums (London: Thames & Hudson, 1973), p. 497.

Gassier, Pierre. "Des oeuvres inédites de Goya?" L'oeil, Magazine International d'Art: La Biennale des Antiquaires à Paris, no. 482 (September-October 1996), pl. 3.

Knudsen, Vibeke Vibolt. Goya's Realism, exh. cat. (Copenhagen: Statens Museum for Kunst, 2000), pp.100-101, ill.

Jean Luc Baroni. Master Drawings at the Salon du Dessin, Paris; 30th March - 4th April 2011 (Florence: 2011), no 12, ill.

Sotheby's, London. Old Master and British Drawings. July 6, 2010, pp. 48-50, lot 143, pl. 143.