We’ve all been to exhibitions where the whole was more than the sum of its parts, shows where not entirely stellar works combined to make an illuminating point, enlarge our understanding of a period, or change our conception of what an artist was seeking. But what about an exhibition where the parts are greater than the whole—which is a fairly accurate description of the wonderful, perplexing, engaging, and in some ways disappointing “Goya: Another Look.”[1] Jointly organized by the Philadelphia Museum of Art and the Palais des Beaux-Arts, Lille, the exhibition is small, focused, and full of splendid paintings (and some splendid examples of Goya’s prints), yet, oddly, the cumulative effect is less than the impact of the individual pictures on view.

The motivating premise for the show was simple, according to the Philadelphia Museum’s brilliant curator of European...

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