Goya, Francisco

from The New Book of Knowledge®

ART HISTORY ON DEMAND > Artists

The brilliantly imaginative painter Francisco José de Goya y Lucientes was one of Spain's greatest artists. He was born on March 30, 1746, in Fuendetodos, Spain. He studied near his home, traveled abroad for several years, and returned to Spain in 1771. Two years later he married Josefa Bayeu, the sister of a Madrid artist.

By 1775, Goya had moved to Madrid. His work was soon appreciated in the capital, and he was asked to design tapestries for the royal tapestry looms. Goya depicted the gaiety of Madrid festivals in reds and yellows and the peaceful gardens of the palace in blues and greens. Pleased with the tapestries, the court continued to order work from Goya. In 1786 he was appointed the king's painter. Goya enjoyed the luxury of court life and impressed the royal family with his charming manner.

Suddenly, in 1792, Goya suffered an illness that left him deaf forever. His art began to show his bitterness. In a series of etchings called the Caprices, he mocked court life. His portraits of the royal family, although richly painted, present an unflattering picture of Spain's rulers. After the invasion of Spain in 1808 by Napoleon's army, Goya's art became even more grim. His painting The Third of May, 1808, which shows a group of Spaniards about to be shot by a French firing squad, is an attack on the brutality of war. His Disasters of War etchings and other works are filled with nightmarish images representing the cruelties of society and the evils of war.

Goya painted his royal patrons only rarely now, and he feared their politics. In 1824 he retired to Bordeaux, France. He died there on April 16, 1828, at the age of 82.

Reviewed by Fred Licht
Author, Goya: The Origins of the Modern Temper in Art

 

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