Goya y Lucientes, Francisco De (1746–1828)

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GOYA Y LUCIENTES, FRANCISCO DE (17461828), Spanish painter and printmaker. Born on 30 March 1746 in the village of Fuendetodos, Francisco Goya received his earliest artistic training in the provincial capital of Saragossa, under the Neapolitan-trained painter José Luzán y Martínez. In 1766 Goya competed unsuccessfully in a drawing competition at the Royal Academy of San Fernando. Documents reveal his entry into another academic competition in Parma, Italy, in 1771, where he received an honorable mention for the painting Hannibal Crossing the Alps (Fundación Selgas-Fagalda, Cudillero, Spain).

On his returning to Saragossa in 1772, Goya undertook religious commissions for private patrons and religious organizations. In 1773 he married the sister of the court painter, Francisco Bayeu y Subías (17341795), and it was probably through Bayeu's influence that the artist was invited to the court of Madrid in 1774 to paint designs (also known as cartoons) for the royal tapestry factory. Goya's ability was soon recognized, and he was given permission to paint tapestry cartoons "of his own invention"that is, he was allowed to develop original subjects for these images. He painted three series of tapestry cartoons for rooms in the royal residences before the tapestry factory cut back production in 1780 because of a financial crisis engendered by Spain's war with England. The decade of the 1780s was nevertheless one of great advancement for the artist, beginning with his election to the Royal Academy of Fine Arts of San Fernando in 1780 and continuing as he won patronage for religious paintings and portraits from the grandest families in Spain, including the duke and duchess of Osuna and the count and countess of Altamira. His appointment as court painter in April 1789, four months after Charles IV had acceded to the throne, cemented his fortunes.

Documents and paintings of the early 1790s suggest the artist's growing unease with the limitations imposed on painters by traditions and patronage. Images in his final series of cartoons, such as The Straw Mannikin (1792; Museo del Prado, Madrid), betray an increasingly cynical view. As one of several academicians asked in 1792 to report on the institutional curriculum, he responded that "there are no rules in painting." Thus, although the turn in Goya's art to a more liberated exploration of unprecedented subject matter is often credited to a serious illness suffered in 17921793, such a change might have occurred in any case. From 1793 onward, in addition to his work as a painter of commissioned portraits and religious paintings, Goya explored experimental subjectsranging from shipwrecks to scenes of everyday life in Madridin uncommissioned paintings, prints, and drawings. This experimentation led to the publication in 1799 of a series of eighty aquatint etchings known as Los Caprichos, whose subjects encompass witchcraft, prostitution, fantasy, and social satire. It is wrongly thought that these etchings jeopardized Goya's relationship with his patrons; that this is not the case is proven by Goya's promotion to first court painter eight months after their publication. The artist would continue to paint portraits including The Family of Charles IV (18001801, Prado), as well as works for the king and queen's close confidant, Manuel Godoy, that include portraits, allegories, and probably the Naked Maja and the Clothed Maja (c. 17971805; Prado).

In 1808 Napoleonic forces invaded Spain, the royal family abdicated, and Napoleon's brother, Joseph Bonaparte, assumed the Spanish throne. In 1810 Goya undertook etchings documenting the atrocities of war, today known as the Disasters of War. Goya probably continued work on these etchings even after the Spanish government of Ferdinand VII was restored in 1814, although the series of eighty plates was published only in 1863, thirty-five years after Goya's death. On the restoration of the Spanish monarchy, Goya depicted The Second of May and The Third of May (18131814; Prado) to commemorate the Spanish uprising against French troops; although these are among Goya's most famous works, little is known of their original function or placement, or of their early reception.

Goya continued in his position as first court painter under the restored monarch, who nevertheless preferred the neoclassical style of the younger Vicente López. In 1819 Goya purchased a villa on the outskirts of Madrid and painted on the walls of its two main rooms images of witchcraft, religious ceremonies, and mythical subjects today known as the Black Paintings (18191823; Prado). In 1824 the artist left Spain and after a brief trip to Paris settled in Bordeaux among a colony of Spanish exiles. Here he continued to paint and draw, and also to experiment with the technique of lithographyleading to the publication of The Bulls of Bordeaux, a masterpiece in that medium. He died in Bordeaux on 26 April 1828.

See also Spain, Art in .


Gassier, Pierre, and Juliet Wilson. The Life and Complete Works of Francisco Goya. New York, 1971.

Tomlinson, Janis. Francisco Goya y Lucientes, 17461828. 2nd ed. London, 1999.

. Goya in the Twilight of Enlightenment. New Haven and London, 1992.

Janis Tomlinson