THE BUSINESS WORLD needs spaces to solemnize its power. He also needs a platform and comfortable chairs. Finally, we need important characters, richly costumed, each displaying their origins, their decorations or their capital. Because this assembly of shareholders, represented here on a huge canvas by the painter Goya, manages the financial investments of the already promising market, in the 19th century, of Asia for Spanish companies.
On that day in March 1815, the Royal Philippine Company reverently welcomed the Spanish King Ferdinand VII (1784-1833), who came to preside over the meeting and thus remind everyone that he is, here too, essential. The work is a commission and a tribute from the business community to the absolute sovereign. But everyone knows, in this noble assembly, that its position is unstable. So it is with Miguel de Lardizabal (1744-1824) who, although minister of the Indies, is not seated to the right of the king as he should, but relegated to a doorway on the left . Because while Goya was finishing his work, the minister lost the favor of the sovereign, before ending up exiled. The painter’s work reflects these conclaves made up of artificial appearances and internal struggles. The red velvet of the hangings responds to the gray darkness of the walls and bodies that cannot stay in place. Even the pale light that floods into the room only seems to come there to denounce the guilty. We suffocate when it is money alone that leads the dance.