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Department of Decorative Arts: 18th century: neoclassicism

Fight at the New Inn

© 2002 RMN / Jean-Gilles Berizzi

Decorative Arts
18th century: neoclassicism

Muriel Barbier

Francisco de Goya y Lucientes (1746-1828) came to the Spanish court in 1775. He would stay five years in Madrid, where he painted several cartoons for tapestries to be woven at the Royal Tapestry Factory for the Spanish Crown. On the whole, Goya chose plebeian, everyday subjects for them, an example of which is the Louvre's Fight at the New Inn. Its satirical approach and darkly ironic mood are characteristic of Goya's work.

A card players' brawl

In 1775 Goya delivered his first cartoons to the Royal Tapestry Factory of Santa Barbara, established in 1720 by Philip V. Most of Goya's cartoons and tapestries are today in the Prado or the Escorial. In creating his designs, the artist enjoyed a degree of freedom, and the themes he chose are illustrated using archetypal figures from everyday life. The setting of the Fight at the New Inn is a perfect one in which to assemble a variety of types. There are majas, Murcians in short trousers, and other figures, perhaps coachmen or muleteers. Having taken their rest, these last had settled down to play cards. But a fight has broken out, and while it is going on the innkeeper is taking the money abandoned on the gaming table.

A tapestry commissioned for El Pardo

Goya's tapestries were made for El Pardo, the winter residence of the kings of Spain, some eight miles outside of Madrid. In all, he painted sixty-three cartoons on popular subjects. Ten tapestries woven to these designs were hung in the dining room of Prince Carlos and Princess Maria-Luisa. Besides the Fight at the New Inn, these included the Picnic, the Dance on the Banks of the Manzanares, Maja and Cloaked Men, the Card Players, the Kite, and four overdoors. Goya's work on these led to his being presented to the royal couple, who became his patrons. It might seem surprising that these rather light-hearted popular scenes were hung in a royal palace. El Pardo was, however, a country residence, where manners were more relaxed than in the palaces of the capital.

The influence of Spanish popular theatre

The groups of figures are symmetrically distributed in a friezelike composition. The inn itself is without depth, like stage scenery, and it is possible that Goya was influenced by Spanish theater in the composition of the work. A number of plays could have served as inspiration, especially the "sainete," one-act musical comedies with very simple plots, which looked satirically at the life and behavior of ordinary people. It is equally likely that his royal clients had a distinct taste for such popular theater. Its satirical and ironic vision of social life was entirely shared by Goya, and here it is given a moralizing edge: what lies at the root of the brawl is money.


Tomlinson J., Goya, London, 1995, pp. 25-37.

Technical description

  • After Francisco de GOYA (y Lucientes) (Fuendetodos, 1746 - Bordeaux, 1828)

    Fight at the New Inn

    Last quarter of 18th century


  • Tapestry, wool and silk

    H. 2.85 m; W. 4.79 m

  • Franco-Spanish artistic exchange, 1941 , 1941

    OA 11930

  • Decorative Arts

    Sully wing
    1st floor
    Cabinet Chinois
    Room 624

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