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Art History

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Francisco Goya

Art History Honors Meka Collett 


I chose Francisco Goya because he is considered to be one of the “Old Masters” of his time, as well as one of the most important Spanish Artists of his time. Within this booklet you will learn more about this great painter and how he became to be the greatest portraitist of his time, as well as the hardships he faced that shaped his darkly romantic themes to his pieces. The genius of Goya went on to inspire artists such as Picasso to carry on his social commentary or embody his style and flair.



Goya's Life...

Goya was born 30th of March in 1746 to Jose Benito de Goya y Franque and Gracia de Lucientes y Salvador in a small village called Fuendetodos in Aragon, Spain. They were a modest family but were not poor, as his mother held aspirations and pretenses of a wealthier family. His education was sufficient but not of any grand quality, he knew how to read, write, make calculations and some history knowledge. When he was 14 he studied painting under Jose Luzan y Martinez, and then he moved to Madrid to study with Anton Raphael Mengs. He had no real passion for anything other than painting, which he was exceptional at and found interesting.

Goya's Later Life...

He married Josefa Bayeu in 1773, however they had a tragic union as it was filled with multiple miscarriages. Goya perfected his portraits while being hired as a court painter to the Spanish Crown in 1786. In 1793 he was afflicted by an undiagnosed illness that caused him to become completely deaf, while his work became darker he was still appointed Director of the Royal Academy in 1795 and in 1799 Goya attained the highest position within the ranks of the Court Painters - the Primer Pintor de Camara. Goya retired to Bordeaux in France in 1824, and he was accompanied by his supposed lover Leocadia Weiss. Goya suffered a stroke paralyzing his right side, he then died and was buried on April 16 of 1828 at the impressive age of 82.

Behind Goya's Style...

Goya was a Romantic Artist, Romanticism is the artistic and intellectual movement that emphasized the importance of nature and individualistic expressions of emotions and placed great value in imagination. It rebelled against usual social normalities, which characterized Goya’s social commentary perfectly. He was first enlisted as a court painter due to his impressive portrait mastery, he painted for the royal court of Spain for many years for countless families and individuals. However Goya always snuck in religious or other allusions that would hint at certain corruption or disruptiveness of the time period and the political aspects of it. He was inspired by the likes of Diego Valazquez.

Behind Goya's Style...

Later Goya transitioned into more of his own original creative pieces, many that caused controversy due to their obscene nature of depicting naked forms. However despite the outcries he never lost his satirical style of commentary behind his paintings. In his later years, Goya faced the hardships of Napoleon’s invasion of Spain. Goya endured the effects of the Peninsular War, and while he did not ever openly comment on its effects on him, the trauma and hardship can be interpreted from the series “Disasters of Wars” by Goya, as well as in his paintings. His pieces from this period included mostly themes of insanity, depicted asylums and creatures such as witches and demons that tied into religious and political corruption.

Charles IV of Spain and His Family

Year 1801

Oil on Canvas - Museo del Prado

La Maja Desnuda - Between the years 1797-1800

Museo del Prado, Madrid - Oil on Canvas

"The Third Of May 1808" - 1814 Museo del Prado, Madrid - Oil on Canvas

"Saturn Devouring His Son" - 1819-1823

Goya's wall of his home

Oil on Plaster later transferred to Canvas

Museo del Prado, Madrid

"The Witches' Sabbath (The Great He-Goat)" - 1821-1823

Plastered on Goya's home walls - Oil on Plaster Wall later transferred to Canvas  

Museo del Prado, Madrid

"La Maja Vestida" - 1800-1805 Madrid - Oil on Canvas

Museo del Prado, Madrid

"La Maja Desnuda" - this painting is a very simple yet evocative painting, with muted and dark tones serving in the background with the figure a striking lightness in the frame laying upon light pillows it helps amplify the model's effect. The nakedness and the lewd positioning of the figure embodies the spirit of the Romantic movement and straying from past social normalities. This painting is striking to me because of the boldness and unabashed nature of it, it helped move art forward in more open expression and away from the restrictive and refined portraiture preferred by patrons.

My Favorite Pieces:



My Favorite Pieces:

"The Third of May 1808" broke boundaries as many Romantic and Modern pieces did, before this artists depicted war with a high style that was very pretty, regal and dramatic. This bloody depiction of tragedy is evocative and serves the purpose to pursue Goya's commentary on war, the colors are dark to depict how these gruesome deeds were committed in the night, and I feel sorrow as I see men standing helplessly before cold killers surrounded by fallen comrades. This picture even makes me think of the man in the white as Christ-like as he wears the only white in the picture and stands unarmed and pleading, amidst the violence.