Goya y Lucientes, Francisco José de
Spanish painter and graphic artist. Goya is generally conceded
to be the greatest painter of his era.
studying in Zaragoza and Madrid and then in Rome, Goya
returned c.1775 to Madrid and married Josefa Bayeu, sister
of Francisco Bayeu, a prominent painter. Soon after his return
he was employed to paint several series of tapestry designs for the
royal manufactory of Santa Barbara, which focused attention on his talent.
Depicting scenes of everyday life, they are painted with rococo freedom,
gaiety, and charm, enhanced by a certain earthy reality unusual in such
cartoons. In these early works he revealed the candor of observation
that was later to make him the most graphic and savage of satirists.
Goya possessed a driving ambition throughout his life (the only masters
he acknowledged were “Nature,” Velázquez, and Rembrandt).
His first important portrait commission, to paint Floridablanca,
the prime minister, resulted in a painting intended to flatter and please
an important sitter, heavy with technical display but less penetrating
than the portraits he made of the rich and powerful thereafter. He became
painter to the king, Charles III, in 1786, and court painter in 1789,
after the accession of Charles IV and Maria Luisa. His royal portraits
are painted with an extraordinary realism. Nevertheless, his portraits
were acceptable and he was commissioned to repeat them. 3
Life and Mature Work
1793 Goya suffered a terrible illness, now thought to have been
either labyrinthitis or lead poisoning, that was nearly fatal
and left him deaf. This created for him an even greater isolation than
was his by nature. After 1793 he began to create uncommissioned
works, particularly small cabinet paintings. His portraits of the duchess
of Alba, who enjoyed the painter’s close friendship and love,
are elegant and direct and not flattering. Almost all the notables of
Madrid posed for him during those years. Two of his most celebrated
paintings, Maja nude and Maja clothed (both: Prado),
were painted c.1797–1805. Goya did his chief religious work in
1798, creating a monumental set of dramatic frescoes in the Church of
San Antonio de la Florida, Madrid.
is in the etching and aquatint media that his profound disillusionment
with humanity is most brutally revealed. In 1799 his Caprichos
appeared, a series of etchings in the nature of grotesque social satire.
They were followed (1810–13) by the terrible Desastres
de la guerra [disasters of war], magnificent etchings suggested
by the Napoleonic invasions of Spain. They constitute an indictment
of human evil and an outrage at a world given over to war and corruption.
Two frenzied paintings known as May 2 and May 3, 1808 (both: Prado)
also record atrocities of war.
Goya executed two other series of etchings, the Tauromaquia [the
bullfight] and the Disparates, the flowers of a tortured, nightmare
vision. Throughout the Napoleonic period Goya retained favor
under changing regimes. At the age of 70 he retired to his villa, where
he decorated his walls with a series of “Black Paintings”
of macabre subjects, such as Saturn Devouring His Children, Witches’
Sabbath, and The Three Fates (all: Prado). His last years, harried
by further illness, were spent in voluntary exile in Bordeaux, where
he began work in lithography that foreshadowed the style of the great
phases of Goya’s enormous and varied production can be appreciated
fully only in Madrid. However, the artist’s work is represented
in many European and American collections, notably in the Hispanic Society
of America, the Metropolitan Museum, and the Frick Collection, all in
New York City, and in the museums of Boston and Chicago. 7
March 30, 1746, Fuendetodos, Spain
d. April 16, 1828, Bordeaux,
consummately Spanish artist whose multifarious paintings, drawings,
and engravings reflected contemporary historical upheavals and influenced
important 19th- and 20th-century painters. The series of etchings "Los
desastres de la guerra" ("The Disasters of War,"
the horrors of the Napoleonic invasion. His masterpieces in painting
include "The Naked Maja" and "The Clothed Maja"
began his studies in Zaragoza with José Luzán y Martínez,
a local artist trained in Naples, and was later a pupil, in Madrid,
of the court painter Francisco Bayeu, whose sister he married
in 1773. He went to Italy to continue his studies and was in Rome in
1771. In the same year he returned to Zaragoza, where he obtained
his first important commission for frescoes in the cathedral, which
he executed at intervals during the next 10 years. These and other early
religious paintings made in Zaragoza are in the Baroque-Rococo
style then current in Spain and are influenced in particular by the
great Venetian painter Giovanni
Battista Tiepolo, who spent the last years of his
life in Madrid (1762-70), where he had been invited to paint ceilings
in the royal palace.
career at court began in 1775, when he painted the first of a series
of more than 60 cartoons
(preparatory paintings; mostly preserved in the Prado, Madrid),
on which he was engaged until 1792, for the Royal
Tapestry Factory of Santa Bárbara. These paintings of scenes
of contemporary life, of aristocratic and popular pastimes, were begun
under the direction of the German artist Anton
Raphael Mengs, a great exponent of Neoclassicism who, after
Tiepolo's death, had become undisputed art dictator at the Spanish
court. In Goya's early cartoons the influence of Tiepolo's
decorative style is modified by the teachings of Mengs, particularly
his insistence on simplicity. The later cartoons reflect his growing
independence of foreign traditions and the development of an individual
style, which began to emerge through his study of the paintings of the
17th-century court painter Diego Velázquez in the royal collection,
many of which he copied in etchings
(c. 1778). Later in life he is said to have acknowledged three
masters: Velázquez, Rembrandt, and, above all, nature. Rembrandt's
etchings were doubtless a source of inspiration for his later drawings
and engravings, while the paintings of Velázquez directed him
to the study of nature and taught him the language of realism.
1780 Goya was elected a member of the Royal Academy of San Fernando,
Madrid, his admission piece being a "Christ on the Cross,"
a conventional composition in the manner of Mengs but painted
in the naturalistic style of Velázquez' "Christ on the Cross,"
which he doubtless knew. In 1785 he was appointed deputy director of
painting at the Academy and in the following year painter to the king,
Charles III. To this decade belong his earliest known portraits of court
officials and members of the aristocracy, whom he represented in conventional
18th-century poses. The stiff elegance of the figures in full-length
portraits of society ladies, such as "The Marquesa de Pontejos,"
and the fluent painting of their elaborate costumes also relates them
to Velázquez' court portraits, and his representation of "Charles
III as Huntsman" (private collection) is based directly on Velázquez'
death of Charles III in 1788, a few months before the outbreak of the
French Revolution, brought to an end the period of comparative prosperity
and enlightenment in which Goya reached maturity. The rule of
reaction and political and social corruption that followed--under the
weak and stupid Charles IV and his clever, unscrupulous queen, Maria
Luisa--ended with the Napoleonic invasion of Spain. It was under the
patronage of the new king, who raised him at once to the rank of court
painter, that Goya became the most successful and fashionable
artist in Spain; he was made director of the Academy in 1795 (but resigned
two years later for reasons of health) and first court painter in 1799.
Though he welcomed official honours and worldly success with
undisguised enthusiasm, the record that he left of his patrons and of
the society in which he lived is ruthlessly penetrating. After an illness
in 1792 that left him permanently deaf, his art began to take on a new
character, which gave free expression to the observations of his searching
eye and critical mind and to his newly developed faculty of imagination.
During his convalescence he painted a set of cabinet pictures said to
represent "national diversions," which he submitted to the
Vice Protector of the Academy with a covering letter (1794), saying,
"I have succeeded in making observations for which there is normally
no opportunity in commissioned works, which give no scope for fantasy
and invention." The set was completed by "The Madhouse"
in 1794, a scene that Goya had witnessed in Zaragoza,
painted in a broad, sketchy manner, with an effect of exaggerated realism
that borders on caricature. For his more purposeful and serious satires,
however, he now began to use the more intimate mediums of drawing and
engraving. In "Los caprichos," a series of 80 etchings
published in 1799, he attacked political, social, and religious abuses,
adopting the popular imagery of caricature, which he enriched with highly
original qualities of invention. Goya's masterly use of the recently
developed technique of aquatint
for tonal effects gives "Los caprichos" astonishing
dramatic vitality and makes them a major achievement in the history
of engraving. Despite the veiled language of designs and captions and
Goya's announcement that his themes were from the "extravagances
and follies common to all society," they were probably recognized
as references to well-known persons and were withdrawn from sale after
a few days. A few months later, however, Goya was made first
court painter. Later he was apparently threatened by the Inquisition,
and in 1803 he presented the plates of "Los caprichos"
to the King in return for a pension for his son.
uncommissioned works gave full scope for "observations,"
"fantasy," and "invention," in his commissioned
paintings Goya continued to use conventional formulas. His decoration
of the church of San Antonio de la Florida, Madrid (1798), is still
in the tradition of Tiepolo; but the bold, free execution and
the expressive realism of the popular types used for religious and secular
figures are unprecedented. In his numerous portraits of friends and
officials a broader technique is combined with a new emphasis on characterization.
The faces of his sitters reveal his lively discernment of personality,
which is sometimes appreciative, particularly in his portraits of women,
such as that of "Doña Isabel de Porcel," but
which is often far from flattering, as in his royal portraits. In the
group of "The Family of Charles IV," Goya, despite
his position as court painter, has portrayed the ugliness and vulgarity
of the principal figures so vividly as to produce the effect of caricature.
Napoleonic invasion and period after the restoration. In
1808, when Goya was at the height of his official career, Charles
IV and his son Ferdinand were forced to abdicate in quick succession,
Napoleon's armies entered Spain, and Napoleon's brother Joseph was placed
on the throne. Goya retained his position as court painter, but
in the course of the war he portrayed Spanish as well as French generals,
and in 1812 he painted a portrait of "The Duke of Wellington."
It was, however, in a series of etchings, "Los desastres
de la guerra"
photograph: "Tampoco" ("No
More"), etching from the series "Los desastres de la
guerra" ("The Disasters of War"
for which he made drawings during the war, that he recorded his reactions
to the invasion and to the horrors and disastrous consequences of the
war. The violent and tragic events, which he doubtless witnessed, are
represented not with documentary realism but in dramatic compositions--in
line and aquatint--with brutal details that create a vivid effect of
On the restoration of Ferdinand VII in 1814, after the expulsion
of the invaders, Goya was pardoned for having served the French
king and reinstated as first court painter. "The 2nd of May 1808:
The Charge of the Mamelukes" and "The 3rd
of May 1808: The Execution of the Defenders of Madrid"
were painted to commemorate the popular insurrection in Madrid. Like
"Los desastres," they are compositions of dramatic
realism, and their monumental scale makes them even more moving. The
impressionistic style in which they are painted foreshadowed and influenced
later 19th-century French artists, particularly Manet,
who was also inspired by the composition of "The 3rd of May."
In several portraits of Ferdinand VII, painted after his restoration,
Goya evoked--more forcefully than any description--the personality
of the cruel tyrant, whose oppressive rule drove most of his friends
and eventually Goya himself into exile. He painted few other
official portraits, but those of his friends and relations and his "Self-Portraits"
(1815) are equally subjective. Some of his religious compositions of
this period, the "Agony in the Garden" and "The Last
Communion of St. Joseph of Calasanz" (1819), are more suggestive
of sincere devotion than any of his earlier church paintings. The enigmatic
"black paintings" with which he decorated the walls of his
country house, the "Quinta del Sordo" (1820-23,
now in the Prado) and "Los proverbios" or "Los
disparates," a series of etchings made at about the same
time (though not published until 1864), are, on the other hand, nightmare
visions in expressionist language that seem to reflect cynicism, pessimism,
1824, when the failure of an attempt to establish a liberal government
had led to renewed persecution, Goya applied for permission to
go to France for reasons of health. After visiting Paris he settled
in voluntary exile in Bordeaux, where he remained, apart from a brief
trip to Madrid, until his death. There, in spite of old age and infirmity,
he continued to record his impressions of the world around him in paintings,
drawings, and the new technique of lithography, which he had begun to
use in Spain. His last paintings include genre subjects and several
portraits of friends in exile: "Don Juan Bautista de Muguiro,"
"Leandro Fernández de Moratín," and "Don
José Pío de Molina," which show the final development of
his style toward a synthesis of form and character in terms of light
and shade, without outline or detail and with a minimum of colour.
there is little evidence for the legends of Goya's rebellious
character and violent actions, he was undoubtedly a revolutionary artist.
His enormous and varied production of paintings, drawings, and engravings,
relating to nearly every aspect of contemporary life, reflects the period
of political and social upheavals in which he lived. He had no immediate
followers, but his many original achievements profoundly impressed later
19th-century French artists--Eugène Delacroix was one
of his great admirers--who were the leaders of new European movements,
from Romanticism and Realism to Impressionism; and his works continued
to be admired and studied by the Expressionists and Surrealists in the