who is francisco goya
Goya got his first commissions frescoing the walls of many Madrid churches. Once the 1780’s arrived he came into his own producing a series of spectacular tapestry cartoons which were immensely popular. The end of this decade saw him appointed as court painter to King Carlos IV, sealing what was probably the most stable time in the painter’s life. His fighting spirit was demonstrated in his response to the Spanish public on their reaction to his painting ‘La Maja Desnuda’ (1798). The exquisitely painted nude shocked audiences who demanded Goya painted some clothes on his mysterious naked woman. His response was stalwart – leaving the original as she was, he reproduced ‘La Maja’ in exactly the same pose, but this time, with clothes on. This pair of paintings have become some of his most famous and can be seen in Madrid’s Prado Museum.
His last four years were lived out in France where he produced some interesting lithographs. Francisco Goya died in 1828.
Other works from the period include a canvas for the altar of the Church of San Francisco El Grande in Madrid, which led to his appointment as a member of the Royal Academy of Fine Art.
In 1807 Napoleon led the French army into the Peninsular War against Spain. Goya remained in Madrid during the war which seems to have affected him deeply. Although he did not vocalise his thoughts in public, they can be inferred from his Disasters of War series of prints (although published 35 years after his death) and his 1814 paintings The Second of May 1808 and The Third of May 1808. Other works from his mid-period include the Caprichos and Los Disparates etching series, and a wide variety of paintings concerned with insanity, mental asylums, witches, fantastical creatures and religious and political corruption, all of which suggest that he feared for both his country’s fate and his own mental and physical health.
Goya’s 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.
Goya 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.
To pass safely through the Spanish countryside occupied by the invading French army, Goya coated his works with a layer of whitewash, so that his depictions of the warвЂ™s atrocities could escape detection and be revealed later, as he believed, that art “is about one heart telling another heart where he found salvation.”
Spanish Painter and Printmaker
Around 1774, Goya was commissioned to produce a series of cartoons for the Royal Tapestry factory at Santa Barbara. These paintings depict scenes from contemporary Spanish life in a lighthearted and light-toned Rococo manner; the resulting tapestries were installed in two royal palaces. Goya leveraged this experience to grow his connections within the Spanish court. At the same time he also began to work on a set of etchings after paintings by VelГЎzquez in the royal collection. Goya would become a master of printmaking, which came to serve as the primary means by which he expressed his most personal feelings about the social and political events of his day.
Goya’s burgeoning career was briefly interrupted in 1792 when an undiagnosed illness left him permanently deaf. Although he continued to work for the Spanish royal family, his handicap led him to distance himself from public life as he grew increasingly embittered and melancholy. It was around this time that Goya began working on Los Caprichos, a series of 80 etchings with aquatint that was published in 1799. The prints present an indictment of many aspects of contemporary Spain.