Francisco de Goya. The Colossus. c. 1810-12. Museo del Prado, Madrid.

For almost 80 years it has been regarded as one of Francisco de Goya’s towering glories. But yesterday it was revealed that The Colossus was not painted by the Spanish master at all, but by an understudy.

After a seven-month investigation, experts at the Prado gallery in Madrid came to the reluctant conclusion that the masterpiece was probably the work of Asensio Juliá, one of Goya’s assistants. They said that the painting, which has hung in the Prado for 78 years, was «Goyaesque but not by Goya».

Manuela Mena Marqués, head of 18th-century art at the Prado, said: «Seen with adequate light, the poor technique used in its light and colour becomes manifest, as does a marked difference between The Colossus and other masterpieces attributed to Goya.»

A colossal mistake? Art world baffled by ‘Goya’ masterpiece

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