Francisco Goya

Francisco Goya - Self Portrait
Francisco Goya - Self Portrait
Fuendetodos in the Afternoon
Fuendetodos in the Afternoon | Source
Fuendetodos- Goya's Birthplace
Fuendetodos- Goya's Birthplace
Kitchen at Goya's Childhood Home
Kitchen at Goya's Childhood Home
Saragossa by Diego Velazquez
Saragossa by Diego Velazquez

Childhood

Francisco de Goya was born in Fuendetodos, a small village in Northern Spain on March 30, 1746. At the time of his birth, Spain was not the wealthy country it had been in the past; its financial stability wavered as King Ferdinand VI continued to support the War of Austrian Succession and line the pockets of his greedy friends. To see Spain's royalty and the men and women who surrounded them, one would never know that the rest of the country was battling poverty.


The Spanish countryside was home to bandits and murderers, roads were often impassable, and many Spanish cities were buried under the refuse that was piled in their streets. When Francisco was twelve years old, his parents made a decision that would be life changing for the young boy. An opportunity for employment in the bustling city of Saragossa led to the family's relocation. Francisco's father worked as a gilder (someone who covers objects in a thin layer of gold), and Francisco, he discovered the world of art.


Saragossa's churches were filled with beautiful paintings and sculptures, and Francisco drank in their beauty like fine wine on a summer day. Shortly after beginning school, his teachers' realized that their new student had a gift; one story tells that Goya was discovered by a priest after drawing a hog on the wall............ well, so the story goes. At the age of fourteen Goya was apprenticed to the local painter, Jose Luzan.


Like so many other painters before him, Goya learned to draw by copying the masters. He learned how to prepare a canvas for painting, and how to mix his own paints, things that all true artists need to learn. Under Luzan's tutelage Goya became adept in the art of drawing, engraving, oils, and fresco. Four years later, when he had learned all that Luzan had to teach him, Goya traveled to Italy in order to finish his education. Art, like everything else, is a journey. Once everyone else has given you everything they have to offer; you have to learn for yourself.

A Village Bullfight- Francisco Goya- 1813
A Village Bullfight- Francisco Goya- 1813

Italy

While traveling through Italy, Goya became entranced by the art of bullfighting. It is even rumored that he himself engaged in the sport to earn extra money during his travels. Regardless of whether he actually ever found himself eye to eye with a raging bull in the ring matters not; his depictions reflect his true love of the fight.

King Charles III
King Charles III
Francesco Bayeu by Francisco Goya
Francesco Bayeu by Francisco Goya
Josefa Bayeu
Josefa Bayeu

Return to Spain




While Goya was away in Italy, major changes were taking place in Spain. King Ferdinand VI had died, and the throne had passed to King Charles III. King Charles, anxious to make improvements to his kingdom, began with the capital of Madrid.




Madrid soon became safe enough that its citizens could stroll through its streets after sunset. Lights were installed that added both ambiance and yet another measure of insurance; garbage disappeared, hauled away to dumps far away from the city limits, and King Charles got just what he wanted........... the world took notice.




Palaces and buildings were refurbished, not to mention the new constructions all over the city. The only thing missing was the beauty of great art, and even that was soon to be realized as master artists from all over the world flocked to Madrid to leave their marks.




Francisco Goya returned to Saragossa in 1771, he'd come full circle. The cathedrals he'd so admired for their beautiful artwork, now held frescoes of his own. Decorative and intricate, they were done in the Rococo tradition. But these frescoes did more than simply beautify the church; they cemented his reputation as an artist.




Goya would remain in Saragossa for another four years working at his craft. And in 1773, he married the sister of his mentor, friend, and fellow artist Francisco Bayeu. Her name was Josefa.


Blindman's Bluff- Goya Tapestry
Blindman's Bluff- Goya Tapestry
Goya Tapestries Today
Goya Tapestries Today
Potrait of Actress Antonia Zarate - Goya
Potrait of Actress Antonia Zarate - Goya
Charles III
Charles III
Charles IV and Family- Goya
Charles IV and Family- Goya

Madrid



The most important period of Goya's artistic development took place during the years 1775-1792. Having moved his family to Madrid, Goya took work at the royal tapestry factory painting the designs for wall hangings (tapestries) that would hang in the royal households.




His designs focused on the mundane activities of everyday life, and as his work progressed he gained keen insight and finely tuned observational skills. Once completed, the paintings would be sent to factories where they would be woven into fine cloth and assembled. Tapestries were fashioned to be hung over windows or on the walls.......... they were paintings woven in finely dyed threads. The same picture in two distinctly different mediums; each created with the same motive in mind........... their purpose? Beauty.




Originally preferring the Rococo style, Goya later dabbled in neoclassicism (distinct movement). But the years he spent in Madrid had other influences. Access to the royal collection, led to his study and appreciation of the great Diego Velazquez. Goya's appreciation becomes evident when you look at the timeline of his works; you can see him evolve as an artist; he began to work with a much looser stroke and a far more spontaneous sense of creation. His new technique and style sometimes mirrored that of the aritst he studied, but eventually, that style was fine tuned and became his own.





In order to make more money, Goya began to paint portraits of the Spanish aristocracy. Establishing himself as a premiere portrait painter, he found himself more and more in demand. Eventually, he was named painter to the King (1786) and court painter (1789).




Goya was a gifted artist. His portraits were far more than simple depictions of the people who hired him; they were character studies. By looking at his paintings you see more than their physical attributes; you see who they were. Look at the difference between his portraits of King Charles III and his predecessor King Charles IV. On one hand you have the happy, wise, and kind eyed Charles III, and on the other a very staid, boring, and inanimate Charles IV with his wife and children.



Goya's painting of children are beautiful; he loved them, and he showed the life in them. In the portrait of Don Manuel Osorio Manrique de Zuniga, the young boy looks almost alive. As one of his most famous paintings, it's bright and happy; the cats look as if they're going to eat the bird, and the bird.......... he holds the artist's signature on a calling card; he holds it in his beak.

Don Manuel Osorio Manrique de Zuniga
Don Manuel Osorio Manrique de Zuniga
The Bewitched Man, 1798
The Bewitched Man, 1798
The Miracle of Saint Anthony, 1798
The Miracle of Saint Anthony, 1798
Reproduction of the Fresco, Miracle of Saint Anthony
Reproduction of the Fresco, Miracle of Saint Anthony

Just When You Think You Have It All


Life at court was exhilarating, and Goya enjoyed it to the fullest. One of Spain's most desired artists, he commanded large commissions for his work. He lived in luxury and he walked among kings, and then it all changed........ just when he thought he had it all.


The year was 1792, and a serious illness changed Goya's life forever. He would never be the same man, and he would never paint in the same way. His world turned upside down, and the way he saw himself, the people around him, and the things he believed in took on a clearer, more vivid light.


That he was alive was a miracle, but he did live. The ultimate loss of what might have been a fatal illness was not his life; it was his hearing. Goya would never hear again; he was completely deaf.


Goya became obsessed with fantasy and magical happenings. Little things started to appear in his paintings; they were strange and mysterious. His brushstrokes became even looser, resulting in a feeling of movement and enhanced expression. His perspective shifted, giving life to his subjects. In essence, his thoughts became paintings, and although it is rumored that many of these images were born in a fevered delirium, who is to say?


That his subjects and paintings had found a new objectivity, that they were more critical, that they were caste in darker hues is obvious. If they could speak, I think they'd ooze sarcasm, but that's just me.


My favorite of Goya's work was produced during this time. I find his religious works to be haunting.......... and beautiful. They are earthy and real; they exude real people, real expressions, and true feelings.

Third of May, 1808
Third of May, 1808
Two Old Women Eating, 1821
Two Old Women Eating, 1821
Plate from the Disasters of War
Plate from the Disasters of War

Napoleon

In 1808, Spain was attacked by the soldiers of Napoleon Bonaparte. Bonaparte's mission for world conquest tore Spain apart. Goya, appalled by acts of war and bloody assaults decided to paint the atrocities. One of these paintings, Third of May, shows the defenseless citizens of Spain being gunned down by merciless soldiers. The faces of Goya's subjects exude the fear they felt; some raise their eyes towards Heaven in appeal, others hang their heads in despair.

While Napoleon controlled Spain, Goya continued as court painter, something he would later be both charged with and pardoned for when the Spanish regained the throne. During the war, Goya had produced a series of etchings on the horrific realities of battle and conquest. The etchings were later published as The Disasters of War, long after his death.

In 1819, Goya moved into seclusion. He resided in a home not far from Madrid. The house was large, and the walls spacious. Those walls became the canvas for some of Goya's Black Paintings. Mysterious and powerful, Goya never shared their meaning or his purpose in creating them. Witches, strange otherworldly creatures, violence, fear. What did they mean? Were they a result of nightmares, monsters under the bed unleashed through his loss of hearing, or simply the fear of not being able to hear. Or maybe something else? Could they have been the fear of getting older and age's eventual journey towards death? I guess we'll never know.


My Personal Favorite

The Miracle of Saint Anthony
The Miracle of Saint Anthony

The Death of a Master

Francisco Goya died in the year 1828 at the age of 82. Self exiled in France, because of his disfavor in the new Spanish court, Goya made his home in Bordeaux. He continued working until his death.

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Comments 30 comments

attemptedhumour profile image

attemptedhumour 5 years ago from Australia

I always find these biographies of famous artists fascinating. History and art combined is a mouth watering cocktail and your telling of his story was rich reading. Imagine Don Manuel the day after it had been painted. Thanks Keith.


Kaie Arwen profile image

Kaie Arwen 5 years ago Author

attemptedhumour- Thank you, Goya's story is most definitely fascinating. I knew little to nothing about him before beginning this piece, and that made it all the more fun to write.

Imagine Don Manuel the day after? I see him dressed in white and playing in the dirt outside the stables, teasing the cats and pulling the bird's tail feathers........ just being a boy!

Thanks for stopping by and commenting! Kaie


WillStarr profile image

WillStarr 5 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

This is the sort of bio the Biography Channel should present.

Well done!


Kaie Arwen profile image

Kaie Arwen 5 years ago Author

WillStarr- Thank you.......... I agree, Goya would make a great addition to their line up. Thanks for stopping by....... Kaie


bbnix profile image

bbnix 5 years ago from Southern California

I still vividly remember Goya from my studies as a designer. His dark, disfigured and torn characters still stand out in my memory. It is incredibly important to me to learn more about the man and what led to his dark period.

I mean its common nowadays to see some art that is dark and disconcerting, but in the 1700s it must have been torturous, both for himself and the public. It's hard to imagine being that much "out of the box." Revolutionary even.

Anyway, I so needed to have this article of yours to read and make sense of the man. Now perhaps, without the dark impetus, necessarily, I can pursue a little revolutionary in my own work.

Thanks for a very important article...


attemptedhumour profile image

attemptedhumour 5 years ago from Australia

Hi Kaie i meant how vivid the colours of the painting would be, it's so easy to misinterpret comments though, isn't it? Add humour and it's asking for trouble. Cheers


Kaie Arwen profile image

Kaie Arwen 5 years ago Author

bbnix- go out and pursue those revolutionary moments! We are each of us the culmination of our experiences.

When I researched Goya, I had not known he'd gone deaf due to illness. When I thought about it; I understood. What we all take for granted, things like going to sleep at night, but being able to hear the wind, rain, thunder, and even the fall of footsteps outside of our rooms........... they were no longer a given. The world had gone completely silent for him, and I think it was probably a noisy silence. Enough to give him nightmares.....

Thanks for stopping and commenting! Kaie


Kaie Arwen profile image

Kaie Arwen 5 years ago Author

attemptedhumour- I'm a MOM! :-D Of course I thought you meant what Don Manuel looked like the next day........ not the painting! Humour is good, and yes, we all tend to misinterpret occassionally. I'm happy you came back to clarify, but I still like the picture of that sweet, perfect little boy just getting out in the dirt and ruining those very finely made clothes. Boys need to be boys! Kaie


crystolite profile image

crystolite 5 years ago from Houston TX

Nice documentary in here,its cool.


James A Watkins profile image

James A Watkins 5 years ago from Chicago

Thank you for this magnificent journey into the life and works of Francisco Goya. Your writing is exciting. I enjoyed this article and gallery very much. Well done!


Kaie Arwen profile image

Kaie Arwen 5 years ago Author

James- Thank you............ I'm glad you enjoyed. Always aim to please! ~ Kaie


Kaie Arwen profile image

Kaie Arwen 5 years ago Author

crystolite- I'm a little out of order here........... you didn't show up on the comment page, sorry! Thanks so much for stopping by and commenting! Kaie


epigramman profile image

epigramman 5 years ago

...I really do love the work of Goya as a painter as much as I do of this labor of love from you as a hubber ....


Kaie Arwen profile image

Kaie Arwen 5 years ago Author

Why thank you kind sir............. hope you're well! Kaie


prasetio30 profile image

prasetio30 5 years ago from malang-indonesia

Wow... I love this hub very much. I never knew about this before. But my interested with art never stop. You have done a great job here. I learn much from all the history of great painters. Rated up!

Prasetio,


Cheeky Girl profile image

Cheeky Girl 5 years ago from UK and Nerujenia

Aaah, Goya was a true Master of Art! What a great hub, and his life makes such a great story, he was there during great upheaval in Spain. The "Third of May" painting is amongst his many famous works, a great study of man's inhumanity to man, something which is still happening today. Great hub, Kaie! Rating up!


Kaie Arwen profile image

Kaie Arwen 5 years ago Author

prasetio30- Thank you very much; it's always good to see you! Hope you're well......... Kaie


Kaie Arwen profile image

Kaie Arwen 5 years ago Author

Cheeky Girl- I agree.......... I always find the artists themselves to be just as intriguing and interesting as the art they've given us! Thanks for stopping by and commenting! Kaie


kittythedreamer profile image

kittythedreamer 5 years ago from the Ether

Voted up and beautiful. Wow! His paintings are truly remarkable. I think I like the Blindman's Bluff the best...it has sort of an innocence to it that I admire. Great hub and super unique. Love it!


katyzzz profile image

katyzzz 5 years ago from Sydney, Australia

Wonderful stuff, wonderful artwork Kaie


Kaie Arwen profile image

Kaie Arwen 5 years ago Author

kittythedreamer- Thank you, and I agree about Blindman's Bluff. Innocence yes! I wish young people could embrace that type of innocence today. Kaie


Kaie Arwen profile image

Kaie Arwen 5 years ago Author

Katyzzz- Thank you, and yes, Goya's artwork is beautiful! Thanks for stopping by! Kaie


suzettenaples profile image

suzettenaples 5 years ago from Taos, NM

I'm a Spanish major and taught about Goya in my high school classes. This is a very good biography, and I like the paintings you chose for this hub. The end of his life was so sad and the monstrous paintings he did from that period always fascinated my students, but frightened them at the same time. Well done.


Kaie Arwen profile image

Kaie Arwen 5 years ago Author

suzettenaples- I envy you being able to teach about the masters............ I always try to fit them in somewhere when I'm able, but it's not an easy task in grade school unless you teach the subject itself. Thanks for coming by........... Kaie


yoginijoy profile image

yoginijoy 4 years ago from Mid-Atlantic, USA

Another great hub! Well done and exceptionally detailed! Goya is my favorite painter!


michememe profile image

michememe 4 years ago

I love history! Anytime I learn of people before me and what they accomplished; I feel that much more empowered. Thanks for educating us.


Kaie Arwen profile image

Kaie Arwen 4 years ago Author

yoginijoy- Glad you enjoyed. I was actually watching a documentary called "Civilisation," just yesterday..... and Goya's paintings were at a point featured. He is indeed a talented man! Thanks for stopping by..... Kaie


Kaie Arwen profile image

Kaie Arwen 4 years ago Author

michememe- Loving history....... that we have in common! Thanks for coming by and letting me know you enjoyed this article! Kaie


Mel Carriere profile image

Mel Carriere 6 months ago from San Diego California

Learned a ton about Goya, who I wasn't too familiar with outside 3rd of May, which every college humanities student has seen. Thanks for expanding my knowledge.


Kaie Arwen profile image

Kaie Arwen 4 months ago Author

Thank you Mel! I'm glad you enjoyed the article and happy you took the time to tell me.... ;-)

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