The work that concerns us here, Hannibal as a winner observes Italy for the first time, is one of the first important canvases within the vast artistic production of one of the most outstanding pictorial geniuses in the history of Spanish art, Francisco of Goya. The canvas is actually little known; Classicist cut has little to do with the latest paintings made by the artist in Bordeaux.It is an early work, one of his first productions in which the academic influenceand the guidelines of the Academy are visible
Francisco de Goya y Lucientes (1746 – 1828) is one of the most prominent artists of the late 18th and early 19th centuries. Born in Zaragoza, the artist began his training at the Zaragoza Academy of Drawing, but without a doubt his great teacher will be Francisco Bayeu, who will soon encourage him to travel to Italy to meet the great figures of Renaissance art. Goya was unable to obtain the long-awaited scholarship granted by the Academy to travel to Rome as a scholar, forcing him to finance the trip by his own means.
Once in Italy, the artistcompeted in a famous contest organized by the Academy of Parmain which he imposed strict guidelines; this was the canvas with which the artist won the honorary prize of the Academy ofParma. Following the indications of the competition, the artist represented Hannibal at the top of a rocky landscape -supposedly after crossing the Alps- with the helmet of his cuirass raised and looking towards the horizon where the Italian fields that are already outside the field of viewer's vision. The contest also established that the Carthaginian general must be guided by a genius, which Goya has interpreted rather as the figure of an angel pointing to the Italian countryside.
Behind Hannibal appears a horseman with a large flag that appears behind his general's man. In a third plane, behind the rider we see how a chariot descends from the sky with the goddess Victoria who carries in one of her hands a laurel wreath to commemorate the feat of the Carthaginian general while in the other hand, she carries a wheel of Fortune., perhaps alluding to Hannibal's changing fortunes. In the lower right corner we see a male figure standing with his back to the viewer and with the head of an ox, it is an allegorical representation -inspired by the iconography of Cesare Ripa- of the river Po that runs through the Lombardy region. Completing the scene are the Carthaginian armies in battle.
It seems that Goya may have followed the same composition for this work as for a previous painting that he submitted to a competition at the Zaragoza Academy. Thecoloring used encompasses a wide range of grays, blues, and pinkish tones that give the composition a heroic yet unrealistic vibe; in fact, this was the biggest criticism of theAcademy jury that did not award the artist the first prize but an honorable mention.