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The Spanish painter Francisco de Goya (1746 - 1828) created the oil painting “Duke of Wellington” in 1814. The painting measures 52.4 x 64.3 cm and is not painted on linen but on mahogany wood. Goya was born in Fuendetodos, Aragón, Spain and served as court painter to King Charles III of Spain. and Charles IV. In the 1790s, he mainly created prints that he sold on the open market. Some of his etchings have critically portrayed political and social events. He died at the age of 61 on April 16, 1828 in Bordeaux, France.
With the Spanish campaign of Napoleon Bonaparte in the years 1807 - 1814 and his proclamation to the Spanish king by his brother Joseph Bonaparte, the displeasure among the Spanish population grew. The term guerrilla was coined by the resistance of the Spanish population to the French. England helped Spain fight France by trying to prevent French dominance in Europe. The Duke of Wellington has successfully driven Napoleon's army out of the royal city of Madrid on the Spanish side. Napoleon's war in Spain was ended in 1814 by the commander Duke of Wellington.
The portrait of the Order of the Golden Fleece is visible on the portrait. Belonging to this knightly order was already considered a privilege granted by the emperor as a reward for merit in the days of Wellington. Goya added the medal after the painting, as Wellington received it later in 1814.
Francisco de Goya admired the English military leader and made a total of three portraits of Wellington. The first portrait shown here was started in 1812 and completed in 1814. It was purchased by the Wolfson Foundation through the London National Gallery in 1961.
In the early morning of August 21, 1961, retired bus driver Kempton Bunton entered the National Gallery in London through a toilet window, took Francisco de Goya's painting "Duke of Wellington" off the wall and escaped through the same window. The police first suspected a professional thief and therefore found no trace of a perpetrator. A short time later, the Reuters agency received a letter asking for a ransom of £ 140,000. The money should be made available to the socially disadvantaged in England so that they can pay the television fees. The demands of the ransom was not answered.
The picture came to fame in the first James Bond film “Dr. No ”from 1962, in which James Bond's Dr. No enters and recognizes the stolen painting hanging on the wall.
Four years later, Bunton contacted the press again. This time he announced that the painting could be picked up in a trunk compartment of the railroad. Six weeks later, he volunteered for the police. At the following trial, Bunton's defense attorney was able to convince the court that the retired bus driver had no intention of keeping Goya's painting. As a result, Kempton Bunton was only sentenced to three months in prison. In 1969, his son John Bunton admitted that he had acted on his father's behalf and that he had stolen the picture. His father would have used the painting for his campaign to ban television fees for the socially disadvantaged and pensioners.