Did Goya Paint This Anteater?
Charles III had commissioned a portrait of the anteater from his court painter, the German-born Anton Raphael Mengs. The resulting painting, His Majesty's Giant Anteater, is owned by Madrid's Museum of Natural Sciences and is currently a high point of the Huntington's PST LA/LA offering, "Visual Voyages: Images of Latin American Nature from Columbus to Darwin."
It's a nearly life-size painting, over six feet wide, that conjoins Enlightenment empiricism with fashionable neoclassism. A short bio of the royal pet appears of base of an obelisk, all caps with V's for U's. The landscape background must be Spain, with a castle in the misty distance. (The anteater is shown twice, rolled up in a ball for sleeping at right.)
another tapestry cartoon, The Kite.
Goya scholars are understandably reluctant to accept an unsigned painting, so different from the artist's usual output. But de Urríes' case is not easily dismissed, even if it lacks a smoking gun. It adds another level of intrigue to an already intriguing painting. (Below is Goya's Charles III in Hunting Dress, 1786, with the King's dog curled up—like a sleeping anteater?)