Biography of Francisco de Goya y Lucientes (1746-1828)

Biography and works of Goya occupy a unique place in the history of art. His long life and his intense and uninterrupted pictorial activity, the diversity of themes and techniques - oil paintings, drawings and engravings, the variety of its stages and its special sensitivity to the historic moment that touched his life, makes a unique figure painting and history. Goya was witness to the extraordinary changes in the society of his time living the fullness of life of the old regime and the beginnings of the contemporary age. His contact with intellectuals like Jovellanos, Iriarte, Meléndez Valdés or Fernández de Moratín, got you in touch with the ideas of the Enlightenment, which also had been turned on in families of the aristocracy with whom Goya had relationship.

Self-portrait. Goya. Museo del Prado. Madrid.

Goya, whose time was the French Revolution, was a direct witness of the war of independence. Unlike other painters, whose work on the impact of the events of his time, is not reflected Goya reveals an intimate connection of art, the existence and history. Its transformation intellectual and ideological, his introverted, accentuated by the deafness that caused illness in 1792-93, made him an artist who expresses the feelings and emotions that will yield the world that surrounds him, creating a revolutionary work that radically changed the basics of painting.

Goya renounced the status of artist estranged and isolated into a passionate protagonist. This attitude explains the realization of series of engravings of steel critique of the society of his time, such as Los Caprichos, or passionate denunciation of the horrors of war, such as the disasters of war, or paintings of a torn pathos, as the charge of the Mamelukes and the massacre of the night of May 3.

This attitude, developed Goya through a broad panorama of themes and techniques subordinating the components of the painting to the phenomenon of the expression. Goya was a painter who practiced the mural painting from his youth to maturity. In some of these works, such as the frescoes of San Antonio de la Florida, Goya broke decidedly with the academic principles of fresco painting to impose a hegemony of color and expression over the classic contentions of the drawing.

Goya was also an excellent writer, the first range universal for our painting, comparable to what were Dürer and Rembrandt in the 16th and 17TH centuries. Also in this specialty Goya was an innovator, and reached a deep understanding of the complex techniques of engraving, at which conferred a deep artistic dimension. Goya, a painter obsessed with the expression and ignored the academic standards, was a constant experimenter of techniques and procedures that, as engraving, contributed decisively to the knowledge and dissemination of his art.

The first data his that we know nothing did assume what would be. March 30, 1746 was born in Fuendetodos, a desolate village near Zaragoza. His father, José Goya, was a modest Browning. After studying in the pious schools in Zaragoza, where wage a friendship with Martín Zapater that would last a lifetime, he/she went to study painting with José Luzán. The young Goya was fourteen years old and received the training conventional, dominant at the time, based on the copy of French and Italian prints. After some failed attempts to achieve an aid of the Academy of fine arts of San Fernando in Madrid to go to Italy, in 1771 was recognized his talent for the first time with a special mention of the Academy of Parma. That same year received the Commission to decorate the dome of the bandstand our Lady of Pilar in Zaragoza which concluded the following year with a baroque conception not exempt from suggestions of Correggio fresco.

In 1773, Goya married Josefa Bayeu sister of the famous painters, Ramón and Francisco, whose support, especially the latter, was decisive for the artistic career of the painter. For these years, Goya began an important activity. Proof of this are the paintings to the Charterhouse of Aula Dei de Zaragoza (1774), themed's life of the Virgin and child Christ which shows a style much more classic than the paintings of the decoration of the bandstand and tempered.

At the end of 1774 moved to reclaimed Madrid for cartons for the Royal tapestry factory, and the following year gave the first hunting-themed, carried out under the direction of Francisco Bayeu, which Goya shows subject to the style of his brother-in-law. It's a period of painting of Goya in which the artist shows folded to the official taste and which is good shows the famous Christ (Madrid. Museo del Prado) presented, on May 5, 1780 for his reception as a member in the Royal Academy of fine arts of San Fernando.

Goya: lunch on the banks of the Manzanares. Museum of the Prado.Madrid.

The realization of cartons for tapestries occupied an important part of the activity of Goya in the Court. With a theme of a festive and carefree costumbrismo, Goya displays attached to a rococo spirit but with the gleam of solutions that are introduced plastic novelties in its style. Dancing on the banks of the Manzanares, the Comet, the parasol, in 1777, the crockery vendor, from 1778, are expressions of these first trials in which Goya enter a thematic courtesan distanced the custom of religious imperatives. Now, if cartons allowed him to experiment and set up its own style, increasingly became Goya harder to accept the impositions of such orders. Although Goya evolves, as you can see in later compositions, such as La Vendimia (Madrid, Museo del Prado), 1786-87, or El Pelele, from 1792, the limitations of this type of work, subjected to a process of repeat - own a manufacturing industrial - and its nature of carton of a composition intended to be transferred to the textile backing of the tapestry, it hastiaba more and more the painter. The last custom cartons, dating back to 1789, found it barely in 1792.

Goya. The parasol. Museo del Prado. Madrid.

Goya: the assault of the car. Madrid.

But Goya activity during these years was not limited exclusively to the realization of cartons for the Royal factory of tapestries. The preaching of San Bernardino (Madrid. San Francisco el Grande), made in 1782-1784, in which the painter has self-portrait to the right, displays an expressive naturalism already tested in cartons for tapestries. Also the experience of Goya was extended to other genres which together the subject of manners with the vedute, and landscape of the city, as in the meadow of San Isidro (Madrid. Museo del Prado), work painted in 1788 and, according to testimony of the own painter to his friend Zapater, was made from "natural".

Carlos III, portrait of hunting. Goya. Museo del Prado. Madrid.

Goya was appointed painter of the King in 1786 and House Painter on April 30, 1789, appointed by Mariano Luis de Urquijo. His role at the Court soon made him one of the favorite painters of the aristocracy to which conducted numerous portraits. One of the most beautiful, in which a personal identification with the characters, is evident is the splendid portrait of the Dukes of Osuna with their children (Madrid. Museo del Prado) painted in 1788, with a surprising human intensity in the faces of the portraits and an extraordinary delicacy in the use of color. Other portraits, like the of Gaspar Melchor de Jovellanos (Madrid. Museo del Prado), made in 1798, also show this identification between the painter and the character through the uptake of the dimension intellectual and human of the portrayed, present also in other future portraits, like the of Leandro Fernández de Moratín (Madrid. Royal Academy of fine arts of San Fernando), executed a year later.

Portrait of Jovellanos. Goya.

In other portraits, as collected and sensitive of the Countess of Chinchon (Madrid. Swedish Col.), 1800, Goya displays exquisite sensitivity in the treatment of color and feeling intimate and stealing the character that contrasts with the human intensity of other portraits, like the La Tirana (Madrid. Real Academia de Bellas Artes de San Fernando).

The uninterrupted work of Goya portrait and its ability to capture the face of the character and delve into your interiority developed him in one of the great masters of the genre. Even in a manner so conservative as the Royal portrait, Goya introduced important innovations by performing one of the masterpieces of the art of the portrait of all time. In the last years of the 18th century he/she made some real portraits of singular importance. The equestrian portraits of Carlos IV and María Luisa de Parma, both conserved in the Museo del Prado, highlight the rejection of Goya by the emphatic theatrical portrait and his interest in models of Velázquez. The Group Portrait of the family of Carlos IV (Madrid. Museo del Prado), to which Goya was a series of sketches, was executed between 1800 and 1801 and is one of the masterpieces of the painter. The different members of the family are standing looking, except one, the Viewer. Deep characterization of each of the characters, Goya has developed a real lesson of autonomy of painting in the execution of the costumes. With a spontaneous strokes, managed with a few brushstrokes wide and broken, and the game some glazes, creating an intense chromatic abstraction, Goya achieves a spontaneous and unique plasticity effects. And, in the background, on the left, Goya has been in the same place that Velázquez in Las Meninas as a tribute and recognition did the painter of Felipe IV.

Carlos IV on horseback. Goya. Museo del Prado. Madrid.

Goya activity during these years was intense. Between 1800 and 1803 made the nude maja and the clothed maja, on whose identification has been legend. What seems certain is that the dressed served to hide the other. We know from an inventory that, at least, in 1803, they were in possession of Godoy, which does not mean that they were works commissioned his. From a compositional point of view present relationship with the portrait of the Marchioness of Santa Cruz (meadow Madrid.Museo), painted in 1805, which years before Goya of girl in the mentioned portrait of the Dukes of Osuna had portrayed with their children.

The naked maja. Goya. Museo del Prado. Madrid.

In these years Goya experienced also in techniques and subjects as diverse as the engraving - the whims - and mural painting - frescoes in the chapel of San Antonio de la Florida-. At the beginning of 1799 went light, advertising its sale in Madrid newspapers, the series Los Caprichos, collection of prints in which the painter rushing a harsh criticism to the society of his time ironically about vices and habits and develop a tension between reality and fiction, imagination and fantasy, with expressive language released from the academic uses. The series Los Caprichos, compared with others such as La Tauromaquia, highlight the use of the image to convey the attitude of the painter, nothing indifferent, with the social, political and ideological realities of their environment. And, also, something defining concern of Goya for many years: the liberation from the constraints of the custom, the vindication of the autonomy of the painting and of freedom of expression and the painter, without constraints or lands, of their plastic and ideological world.

Other series of engravings of Goya made subsequently, as the disasters of war and the proverbs or nonsense were also committed to that same attitude expressions. The disaster series is devoted to the denunciation of the horrors of the war, of the injustice of violence as an expression of the anguish and despair that produced in a man illustrated and convinced of the value of the reason as a means of changing the world. Somehow the premonition expressing Goya in the sign that accompanies the caprice number 43 was fulfilled: "the sleep of reason produces monsters". Monsters that are represented in an explicit way in fantastic images of the series of the proverbs that would take place later. The activity of Goya as engraver was impressive. It should be added the large number of drawings made in the preparation of the various series.

The activity of Goya to the edge of 1800 was instrumental in the renewal of other genres as religious painting. Although for reasons of their activity at the Court and orders, Goya did not pay special attention to this subject; It can be said that it was the creator of the latest masterpieces of Spanish religious painting: the frescoes of the chapel of San Antonio de la Florida (Madrid), in 1798 and the last communion of San José de Calasanz (Madrid. College of the Escuelas Pías de San Antón) painted years later, in 1818.

In the dome of the Chapel is represented the moment that San Antonio is making a comeback to a murdered man, who reveals the name of the author of the crime that had been imputed to the Holy Father. Goya has faked a balustrade with figures around which stand out on an open stage of landscape. In these figures, and the angels of the lunettes of the vaults of the ship, the arms of the transept, and the pendentives, Goya broke definitively with the value of the drawing as the basis of mural painting. On the other hand, developed a sprawling expressivity, with pointed freedom in the use of color and the Bill that divides the surfaces and volumes. In this sense, freedom in the use of color and the application of the painting as a means of intense expressiveness were the result of long experimentation before reaching the first definitive concretion in the paintings of the war.

Goya lived the war of independence and left us a few pathetic and overwhelming testimonies. The theme of the series of etchings the disasters of the war paintings were the fruit of experiences lived by the painter or known descriptions and stories but, in any case, actual and verifiable. Only the Colossus (Madrid. Museo del Prado), painted before 1812, obeys a simbolico-alegorica conception inspired by a literary text, the poetic image of Juan Bautista Arriaza, prophecy of the Pyrenees (1808), which announced that a giant cry is against the troops of Napoleon in the Pyrenees. Other paintings, on the other hand, are a clear reference to actual events.

On February 24, 1814 was proposing to the Council of Regency Goya paintings that illustrate the rising of the people of Madrid against the troops of Napoleon. The proposal was accepted and Goya made the order without resorting to emphatic, theatrical and eulogistic, resources but emphasizing the value of the expressive means for increasing the emotional and dramatic power of the image. In the charge of the Mamelukes (Madrid. Museo del Prado) represented the uprising of the people of Madrid against the French army. The representation is offered as the snapshot of an event. However, it's a deeply conceived and elaborated composition. The painter has represented the three main phases of the action: the Napoleonic soldiers suppressed the uprising, the insurrection of the population against the French army and the corpses on the ground of the fighters one and another side. All this is set in an urban scenography determined only as reference from the place of the event. In another painting, the shootings of May 3rd (Madrid. Museo del Prado), the painter has also represented three fundamental event sequences in a suburban setting and an impressive night. First the bodies of the shot are on the ground while the focus is on the Group of those who are on the verge of being so. A crowd is driven to the site of the massacre, carried out by a platoon of French soldiers, compact and uniform. This provision is what Goya stands out in this painting is not the story of a particular event, unreason and the horror of the execution, violence and the death of the innocent.

The charge of the Mamelukes. Goya.

The shooting. Goya.

In the paintings of the war Goya emphasized the use of the expressive components to achieve, against the primacy of the descriptive, the pathetic expression of the event. The Bill, the same color, dark and dingy, applied to project an attitude to life and a distressed mood. Goya emphasises the modern idea that the work of art, to be, does not require the procurement of conventional beauty models. This approach was more accurate verification in the series of murals from the Quinta del Sordo, a house near the river Manzanares, which the artist had bought in 1818. These paintings, known as the black paintings, due to the dominance and autonomy of black and grey colors, were performed in 1820 and now kept in the Museo del Prado. He/She is a set of paintings that Goya made for itself, regardless of any custom, which leads to its ultimate consequences release form and autonomy of color conditioning. But, in addition, these paintings are the result of a boundless imagination, fruit of a full subjectivity that constitutes the starting point of some trends of modern painting. Paintings in which is expressed the anguish that he/she assaulted the painter and that also they reveal two self-portraits, in 1815 and preserved in the Museo del Prado and the Academia de San Fernando. In the black paintings, Goya developed a program whose meaning is not yet determined. In the room of the first floor were the paintings with representations of the fates and the quarrel, in which two men with legs sunk into the Earth beat to beatings, El Santo Oficio, Asmodea and dog, composition in which figurative allusion has been reduced to a minimum reference. In paintings that were in the low room Goya represented, among other scenes, La Leocadia, Saturn, Judith and Holofernes, the coven and the romería de San Isidro. In these last two, the disintegration of the form and the expressiveness of color were taken to its ultimate consequences to create a distraught and desperate tension.

In 1824, the political situation created by the absolutist reaction of Fernando VII makes it to apply for license under the guise of taking the waters of Plombières. Once crossed the border, Goya moved to Bordeaux. During his last years in France, he/she painted in 1827 Milkmaid of Bordeaux (meadow Madrid.Museo). Soon after, the night of 15 to 16 April 1828, died in Bordeaux. The final works of Goya, characterized by an expression that is superimposed to any driving style, highlight the consistency of a trajectory that is characterized by a tireless effort to experiment new forms independent of formulas and rules.


Gallery multimedia

In January 2009, the Prado Museum culminates a process of investigation to determine the reliable authorship of the painting known as "El Coloso". Inquiries on this issue came to the conclusion that the box, despite keeping a goyesco "style", not was painted by his hand, and Yes, predictably, by a student named Asensio Juliá.


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