Francisco Goya y Lucientes

"I shall give a proof to demonstrate with facts that there are no rules in painting and that the tyranny which obliges everyone, as if they were slaves, to study in the same way or to follow the same method is a great impediment to the young who practice this very difficult art, which comes closer to the divine than any other, since it makes known what God has created."

- Goya, in his letter of October 14, 1792 to Bernardo de Iriarte, Vice-Protector of the Academia Real de San Fernando, Madrid (cited in Enriqueta Harris, Goya, (Phaidon, 1994), at p. 24)

Francisco José de Goya y Lucientes was the leading Spanish artist of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. His paintings, drawings and prints unflinchingly responded to his times: one of the most turbulent periods of Spanish history. Artists in the twenty-first century often turn to his work to express powerful emotions about war and violence.

A gilder's son, Goya attended a Piarist school in Saragossa, and studied art with José Luzán Martinez. Fellow pupils included Goya's future brothers-in-law, Francisco and Ramón Bayeu. Goya was influenced by Simon Vouet, Maratti, Diego Velásquez, Antonio González Velásquez, and Anton Mengs. He studied art in Rome in 1770-71. His hearing was impaired seriously by an illness in 1790. Goya's mature art reflects his awareness of contemporary foreign literature and art, including John Flaxman's Dante illustrations. With few pupils, and most of his paintings in Spain, Goya became known abroad through his prints, especially Caprichos (1799), Tauromaquia (1816), Disasters of War and Disparates (Follies) (published only in 1863 and 1864) (Hobgoblins, 1798). His work influenced Impressionists and Post-Impressionists, Symbolists, Expressionists and Surrealists.

Goya painted frescoes and altarpieces for Spanish churches, but is better known for his portraits, tapestry cartoons and prints. He married Josefa Bayeu, wife of a former fellow art student, in 1773. In 1774-1792 he painted 63 cartoons for the Real Fábrica de Tapices de Santa Bárbara. In 1786 Goya became Charles III's royal painter. He painted exceptionally frank portraits of Spanish royalty and aristocracy, and, when French armies invaded Spain, executed paintings commemorating Spanish resistance to French rule. The meaning of the powerful paintings Goya made for his home, the House of the Deaf Man, remains enigmatic, as do many of his haunting prints. Goya spent the last years of his life in exile in France. He was an expressive draughtsman (A Young Witch Flying on a Rope Swing, 1828), and a technically innovative miniaturist.


1771Second prize in the Parma Accademia competition for his painting, Victorious Hannibal Seeing Italy for the First Time from the Alps (Cudillero, Selgas-Fagalde Foundation)

Francisco Goya y Lucientes
Francisco Goya y Lucientes, Painter 1797-1798