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Francisco Goya. Famous Artist.
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Francisco Goya
Francisco Goya
Francisco Goya
Born:1746-01-01   Died: 1828-01-01

Francisco Jose de Goya y Lucientes was a Spanish painter and engraver. He was born in Fuendetodos, Spain and later lived primarily in Madrid. Brought up in Zaragova, at thirteen he was apprenticed to an artist friend of his father's. He married his wife in 1773.

His later influence is significant since his art was both rebellious and subjective, at a time when these attitudes were not predominant. His emphasis on the foreground and faded background carries a hint of Manet. Goya was a portraitist of royalty and chronicler of history who produced a series of eighty prints that he titled Los Caprichos, depicting what he called "the innumerable foibles and follies to be found in any civilized society, and from the common prejudices and deceitful practices which custom, ignorance, or self-interest have made usual."

He painted the Spanish Royal Family, including Charles IV of Spain and Ferdinand VII. His themes go from merry festivals for tapestry draft cartons to scenes of war, fighting and corpses. This change reflects the darkening of his temper. Modern doctors suspect that the lead in his pigments was poisoning him and was also the cause of his being deaf since 1792. These "Black Paintings" prefigure Expressionism.

He retired to his Quinta del Sordo ("Deaf man's villa") after the French troops of Napoleon Bonaparte seized the power in Spain. Some of his paintings depict scenes of the horrors of the Peninsula War. He died in exile in Bordeaux. Many of Goya's works are on display at the Museo del Prado. Two of Goya's most famous pictures, shown below, are known as The Nude Maja and The Clothed Maja. They depict the same woman in the same pose, naked and clothed respectively.

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  • Francisco Goya
    Francisco Goya

    A fearless, unflinching artist!

  • The Execution of the Defenders of Madrid.
    The Execution of the Defenders of Madrid.

    Location:Museo del Prado, Madrid, Spain

    On this monumental canvas Goya depicts an event that happened in Madrid when Napoleon had 5000 civilians executed for revolting against his army. The painter depicts fear and defiance in the enlarged white eyes of the patriots still alive, some shielding their eyes and faces with their hands. Profuse blood seeps from the dead lying on the ground. The firing squad of soldiers massed together (only their backs visible to the viewer), shoot the unarmed, shabbily dressed peasants at an alarmingly close range. Strong light from a single lantern illuminates the face and body of one white-shirted, condemned man on his knees, Christ-like at the moment he is being shot. The powerless, innocent and grieving victims, next to be sacrificed, are hemmed in by a barren hill, behind which looms the outline of barely visible city buildings, including a church.

  • Scene of Bullfight.
    Scene of Bullfight.

    Location:Private collection.

    Bullfights were and are still very much part of Spanish life. Danger and action of the bullfight appealed to Goya's temperament and he created many paintings and etchings depicting bullfights. Often interesting side events are happening in the background. The combination Goya / bullfight remains a powerful attraction in today's Spain. Every summer they celebrate the "corrida goyesca" ("Goyesque bullfight") in the 17th-century bullring of the mountain town of Ronda with modern-day matadors outfitted in suits from Goya's time. It's a major social event comparable to Ascot in England, where the cream of Spanish society turns out in all their finery for a day of folly, an ambience in which Goya, the court painter, master of highest-of-high and lowest-of-low folly, would have felt very much at home.

  • The Clothed Maja (La Maja Vestida). (Detail)
    The Clothed Maja (La Maja Vestida). (Detail)

    Location:Museo del Prado, Madrid, Spain

    Goya painted two versions of the Maja, clothed and nude. The clothed Maja was the first painting and originally called Gypsy'. There has been much speculation as to who the model was. One legend surrounding both paintings connected them with the Duchess of Alba, as a consequence of the probable loving affair between the painter and the noble lady. Because the head does not correspond to the body many researchers believe that he probably used at least two models, one for the face and another for the body.

  • The Parasol.
    The Parasol.

    Location:Museo del Prado, Madrid, Spain

    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. The Parasol was painted as a cartoon for a tapestry weaving for the winter residence of future King Charles IV, and his wife Maria Luisa. The finished tapestry was hung in the dining hall of the couples Pardo Palace outside Madrid.

  • The Snowstorm.
    The Snowstorm.

    Location:Museo del Prado, Madrid, Spain

    Goya was a master at painting feelings, moods and emotions. In this painting the feeling of cold and discomfort is palatable. The characters are cold and uncomfortable and the dog looks practically paralysed.

Learning art through great artists and their paintings is fun and exciting. Our friend and resident artist Stefan Mager has kindly given this introduction to the art world.

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