Francisco de Goya, Biography of an Aragonese Painter

Francisco de Goya was a painter of the Spanish court during the s. XVIII. During his early years, Goya was mainly devoted to portraits. However, it is also known for its series of dark paintings.

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Francisco de Goya was a Spanish painter who became famous for his portraits. Goya was favored by the Spanish nobility and for this reason he received an immense amount of orders.

His portraits were unique, personal visions that he captured on the canvas, without artificially embellishing them. Thus, Goya maintained a non-idealized naturalistic style.

Goya was considered the best Spanish painter of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. In this way, his portraits, paintings, engravings and exemplary murals were the beginning of the era of contemporary painting.

Childhood and youth

Francisco José de Goya y Lucientes was born on March 30, 1746 in Fuendetodos, Aragón, Spain. His father was a master gilder of Basque origin, José Benito de Goya and Franque. His mother was a peasant named Grace of Lucientes and Salvador.

While still young, his family moved to Zaragoza. Only a few years later, he began working as an apprentice to the painter José Luzán at the age of 14 years. With him he learned painting imitating the works of great masters during the first four years, a teaching method common at the time.

“The biggest enemy of the Aragonese, are the Aragonese.”

-Francisco de Goya-

Later he moved to Madrid to study with the German painter Anton Raphael Mengs. However, the young Goya’s art was not very academic at that time.

He appeared at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts of San Fernando in the years 1763 and 1766. However, he was denied admission on both occasions. Later, he moved to Rome in 1771, where he was a finalist in a painting contest that same year. He returned to Zaragoza for several projects, but always for short stays.

In a few years, Goya studied with Francisco Bayeu and Subias, which gave him initial success and recognition.

Professional start of Francisco de Goya

His friendship with Francisco Bayeu earned him the entrance to the royal workshops in 1774, under the direction of maestro Mengs. This year was decisive in the life of the painter because it opens a new period of greater strength and originality.

In the real workshops, his job was to paint upholstery caricatures for the Royal Tapestry Factory in Madrid. This work proved to be a blessing for the artistic development of Francisco de Goya.

Over the next five years, he completed more than 60 cartoons depicting scenes from everyday life. Several of his cartoons were used to decorate the Spanish royal residences in San Lorenzo del Escorial and in El Pardo.

Francisco de Goya managed to ascend very fast position in the Spanish court. In 1779, he was appointed painter in the royal court and elected as a member of the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in 1780.

In March 1785, Goya was appointed deputy director of painting at the San Fernando Academy. Finally, being quite young by the standards of the moment, in 1786 he obtained the title of painter of the king.

In these years, he began to be recognized as a portraitist among several royal circles. In a short time, he composed portraits for the Count of Floridablanca, the Crown Prince Don Luis and the Duke and Duchess of Osuna. Thus, he earned the reputation of a portrait artist.

Work and style

Goya created a series of masterpieces that reflect his distinctive style and talent. Among his most recognized works are The Black Paintings, La Maja Nude and La Maja Clothed.

The Majas are considered the masterpieces of Goya. This is because of the legend that was created around them, as well as the images themselves. It should be noted that Naked Maja is the first female figure in the history of painting that shows pubic hair. This was totally scandalous for the time.

In 1815, this portrait caused him problems with the Inquisition. Of such mishap, Francisco de Goya was released thanks to the intercession of powerful figures of his environment.

“Fantasy, isolated from reason, only produces impossible monsters. Together with her, on the other hand, she is the mother of art and the source of her desires”.

-Francisco de Goya-

His Disasters of War, created during the 1810s, is believed to have been a representation of the May 2 Uprising. This uprising occurred during 1808 and led to the Peninsular War of 1808-1814.

In 1814, his paintings El 3 de mayo in Madrid and La carga de los mamelucos were inspired by the battles. These works portray the horrors of the Peninsular War between Spain and France and the subsequent loss of human life.

“I feel ardent desires to perpetuate by means of the brush the most remarkable and heroic actions or scenes of our glorious insurrection against the tyrant of Europe”.

-Francisco de Goya-

His works have influenced, to a large extent, the later generation of artists of the twentieth century. Goya had a special influence on Pablo Picasso, Paul Cézanne Edgar Degas, Francis Bacon and Edouard Manet.

Personal life and legacy of Francisco de Goya

In June 1773, he married Doña Josefa Bayeu y Subias, the sister of her art teacher, Bayeu. Although the couple had several children, only one survived to adulthood: his son Xavier. Later, he married for the second time with Leocadia Weiss, with whom he had a daughter Maria Del Rosario Weiss.

In 1793, at age 47, the artist contracted a disease that would affect his professional and personal life. There is no certainty of what illness he suffered, but it developed rapidly. The artist spent almost two years recovering. It had serious sequels, the most important an absolute deafness.

Many historians think that this condition marked the beginning of his black series. Of course, his illness also coincides with works in which his imagination manifested more freely.

He moved to the outskirts of Madrid, where he bought a house along the Manzanares River called Quinta del Sordo (Villa of the deaf man). Although he had moved there in 1819, Francisco de Goya moved to Bordeaux in 1824 and then to Paris.

He returned to Spain in 1826, but quickly returned to Bordeaux. In France, he suffered a stroke in April 1828, dying at 82 years of age.

He was buried in Bordeaux, in the Pantheon of Illustrious Men of the cemetery of San Isidro. The remains of the master were exhumed and buried in the Royal Chapel of San Antonio de La Florida, Madrid, in 1919.

Several films have been made that represent his life. Without a doubt, he was an illustrious figure in world art. Some of these films are The Maked Naja (1958), Goya in Bordeaux (1999), Goya’s Ghosts (2006) and the documentary Goya – Crazy Like a Genius (2012).