Francisco de Goya

1746 - 1828 · Spain

Artist biography

Francisco de Goya is one of the most acclaimed Spanish artists of the 18th century. His style evolved from rococo all the way to pre-romanticism. Always preoccupied with portraying a reality without idyllic filters and impregnated with a moral outlook. Heavily influenced by Rembrandt and Velázquez’s works, Goya’s art provides an inflection point to announce the upcoming contemporary art movement as well as the avant-garde movements, especially being a precursor of impressionism.

He was born in 1746 to a middle-class family in Zaragoza, Spain. Francisco de Goya had five brothers, and his family struggled with money, which explained why Francisco de Goya had to start working at an early age and couldn’t start drawing classes before he had turned 13 (a late age to begin drawing classes). Although Goya’s real artistic development bloomed much later, in his more adult life.

Francisco de Goya self-financed his trip to Italy, where he studied the Italian classic painters in situ so he would develop his own artistic technique. After years in Italy, the artist moved back to Spain to take care of his dying father. In this period Francisco de Goya started to paint many different wall and ceiling paintings for local churches of Zaragoza. Probably one of the most relevant frescos is The Adoration of God’s Name (La adoración del nombre de Dios) which covered the famous Cathedral-Basilica of Our Lady of the Pillar’s ceiling of the cupola over the Small Choir of the Virgin.

He got married to Josefa Bayeu in 1773, and had six children with her. After his brother in law used his influence in court, he got invited to paint the carton tapestries for the royal palace. With time, he grew to be the court’s favorite and was the most solicited portrait artist of the aristocrats. One of his most famous family portraits is “Charles IV of Spain and His Family” (1800-1801) a portrait of the royal family arranged in a dynastic way.

During 1790-1800 he painted The Nude Maja, the first profane painting in Western culture depicting a naked woman without being related to mythology. Even if the identity of the woman is still unknown, the portrait is most likely of Goya’s lover the Duchess of Alba. Eight years later, he painted one of his most iconic artworks “The Third of May” (1808), a painting portraying the uprise of the people of Madrid against Napoleonic troops. It is considered to this day a national treasure.

In his late years the artists started suffering major anxiety after a long-time disease made him deaf. It is during this period that he creates the Black Paintings, a really acclaimed set of paintings collected from the painter’s own walls at his house outside of Madrid. In the paintings Goya reflects the society he had so bitterly got downhearted with.

Francisco de Goya died on 16 April 1828 due to a tumor growth in his house of Bordeaux. He was buried in La Chartreuse Cemetery, together with his good friend Martín Miguel de Goicoechea.

Francisco de Goya

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