Francisco Goya 1746-1828 BACK

Goya was a child prodigy who could draw like an angel. He was a master of styles, innovative, brisk, and unerring. Like Picasso , Goya painted a bewildering variety of moods and subjects, almost switching back and forth at will between the sweet and the sad. He could depict his mistress, the raven-haired noble Countess of Alba, both naked and clothed, as one of the most fetching women of history. After being afflicted by deafness Goya painted jet black images of tremendous power, showing Saturn devouring his children alive. Goya's art can be defined by duality: public and private, light and dark, beautiful and grotesque. It has always been a mystery how certain artists can take a pen or a pencil or an engraved line and make it come to life. The black scrawls of Goya seem to be able to breath and speak because it is so vital.

An excerpt from Goya by Enriqueta Harris
Whether or not Los Caprichos were withdrawn for political reasons, Goya's success and official position with his royal patrons appears to have been unaffected at the time either by them or by his increasingly unconventional treatment of conventional subjects. His fresco decorations in the church of San Antonio de la Florida, a royal commission executed in 1798 in the space of a few months, owe little to earlier religious frescoes. The over life-size figures are painted in a broad and free style, in strong colours, with hardly any detail - a style that, indeed, has no precedent in Goya's oeuvre. Though Goya in this same period was painting religious subjects such as the St Gregory, and the Taking of Christ in the Sacristy of Toledo Cathedral in a traditional manner, here he has concentrated on the : overall effect. The Miracle of St Anthony, the central theme, is almost overshadowed by the surrounding populace and by the angels in the shape of contemporary women below.

Even less conventional than the San Antonio frescoes are Goya's portraits of his royal patrons. From the time of their accession until 1800, Charles IV and Maria Luisa sat to him on many occasions, and many replicas were made of his portraits of them. He painted them in various costumes and poses, ranging from the early decorative portraits in full regalia in the existing tradition of Mengs to the simpler and more natural compositions in the manner of Veldzquez, who directly inspired the large equestrian portraits in the Museo del Prado. But while following traditional compositions for these state portraits, Goya creates an effect of pomposity rather than majesty and the faces of his sitters reveal a penetrating scrutiny of character. Nowhere is this more striking than in the portrait of Charles IV and his Family. Though Goya doubtless had in mind Veldzquez's unique royal portrait, Las Meninas, which he had copied in an engraving years before. Goya, like Veldzquez, has put himself in the picture at his easel, but his royal assembly lacks any semblance of courtly dignity and elegance. Moreover, despite the official character of the painting and his official position, he has accentuated the ugliness and the vulgarity of the principal figures so vividly as to produce an effect almost of caricature. Theophile Gautier, writing of this picture, remarks that the King 'looks like a grocer who has just won the lottery prize, with his family around him'.

Image List
The Parasol, 1777

The Spell, 1797

Jose Costa y Bonells, called Pepito, n.d.

The Clothed Maja, 1800

Family of Carlos IV, 1800

El Maragato, 1806

Majas on a Balcony, 1808

Majas on a Balcony(attributed to), n.d.

Self Portrait, 1815

The Bullfight, 1816

The Procession, 1816

Self Portrait with Dr Arrieta, 1820

Portrait of Tio Paquete, 1820

Two Old Women Eating, 1821

Monk Talking to an Old Woman, 1824

Visit Goya's Black Paintings at the Artchive.

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This listing of artists is not official. It is merely intended to group the artists in an easy to navigate format.

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