The Last Communion of St Joseph of Calasanz, 1819 by Goya

This last ecclesiastical commission for an altarpiece for the Saint's chapel was received in May 1819 to be completed by the saint's day on 27 August. A sketch in Bayonne is said to have been in the Quinta del Sordo at Goya's death. Goya is alleged to have said that this would be his last painting in Madrid, as it virtually was, apart from the decorations of the Quinta and the Self-Portrait with Dr Arrieta.

When the altarpiece was finished Goya wrote to the Rector returning most of the payment he had received saying: 'D. Francisco Goya has to do something in homage to his countryman', and a few days later he sent as a gift the small panel of The Agony in the Garden. These two paintings are outstanding in Goya's oeuvre for the intensity of the religious devotion they reflect. Goya may well have felt a personal involvement with the saint, who was not only a fellow Aragonese, canonized in Goya's lifetime (1767), but also the founder of the religious schools that are said to have given him his education in Saragossa. This large altarpiece with its highly charged dramatic subject is seen to its best advantage in the dimly-lit chapel for which it was painted.