father of modern art
Spanish-speaking world, rich in culture and history, is
no stranger to artistic genius, having given birth to the
likes of Pablo Picasso, Frida Khalo, Diego Rivera, Diego
Alfonso Siquieros, and Joan Miro.
Each of these artists has in his or her own way richly contributed
to elevating the levels of creative perfection seen by mankind.
Convincing murals and haunting works serve as silent testimony
to the historical blunders and injustices of their countries
as well as the artists own personal pains and burdens.
It is among this group of gifted creators that Francisco
Goya has earned his place for his enchanting yet grotesque
style of art. This brief journey to the past examines the
amazing world of Goya and the skilful manner in which he
used his art to illustrate the atrocities that soiled the
existence of mankind.
Francisco Goya was born on March 30, 1746, in a small village
in the north of Spain called Fuendetodos. He spent much
of his young life there and at the age of 14 his family
relocated to Saragossa. There, Goya was apprenticed to Jose
Luzan, a local painter from whom he learned the basics of
His relationship with art further blossomed in Italy where
he went to study and improve his technique.
Goya returned to Saragossa in 1771, where he specialised
in painting frescoes for the local cathedral following the
rococo tradition style painting. These early works established
him as an artist of some talent.
From 1775-1792, Goya worked at the royal tapestry factory
in Madrid, where he painted cartoon-like designs.
This era was very instrumental in his artistic development
since he began painting scenery of daily-life activities.
It is also during this period that he developed his skill
as a keen observer of human behaviour.
Goya is known as the Father of Modern Art since
he was the first to use revolutionary artistic tendencies
in the 19th century. His paintings, drawings and engravings
have been described as multifarious and focus on important
contemporary and polemic issues.
He subsequently became the mentor of many infamous 19th
and 20th century artists since he was true to his works
and was one, spiritually and emotionally, with them.
Furthermore, the majority of his themes were a mirror of
his beliefs and his outlook on life, as well as his views
on the social and political sphere of his time and country.
He began his works towards the end of the late Baroque period
and since he was loyal to highlighting the wrongs of mankind,
his frankness managed to set him apart from the rest.
Goya was employed as a Spanish court painter and became
a follower of neoclassicism at the expense of abandoning
his rococo style of painting. He was further influenced
by the last of the great Venetian painters Tiepolo and Antonio
Raphael Mengs, and the works of Valesquez, which saw him
painting with more spontaneous fervour.
A grave period of illness made Goya permanently deaf and
in this lonely world of silence and segregation, he became
more dependent on the mysteries of his imagination, and
his mind, and more and more critical of human beings.
According to WebMuseum, during this period he evolved
a bold, free new style close to caricature.
In 1799 he published the Caprichos, a series
of etchings satirising human folly and weakness. His portraits
became penetrating characterisations, revealing their subjects
as Goya saw them. In his religious frescoes he employed
a broad, free style and an earthly realism unprecedented
in religious art.
Goyas personal masterpieces cover the graphic violence
and bloodshed of the French invasion of Spain and the Spanish
War of Independence. His horror of the gruesome and unceremonious
invasion of Napolean was documented in the collection of
his etchings entitled Los Desastres de la Guerra 1810-1814
(The Disasters of War). So controversial were they
that they were not published until long after his death
Other renowned pieces that managed to draw surprise were
The Naked Maja (one of the few nudes in existence in the
sphere of Spanish art) and The Clothed Maja (1800-1805).
His painting of the Naked Maja resulted in him being called
before the infamous Inquisition. The new king was not in
favour of his work and as a result Goya lived in seclusion
in a little house outside of Madrid where he would be safe
from the restrictions and anger of the monarchy.
On the walls of this house is the Black Painting in which
he exhibited his deepest and darkest thoughts on the social
and political forum and on life as a whole.
According to WebMuseum, A similar nightmarish quality
haunts the satirical Disparates, a series of
etchings also called Proverbios. One of his creations
that produces an aura of altitude and awe is the breathtaking
portrait called Senora Sabasa Garcia.
He also acknowledged the Spanish tradition of bullfighting
in his work, called Tauromaquia. Some of his other well-known
works are Portraits of Mariana Waldstien and The Countess
of Carpio, Marquise de la Solana, both oil on canvas located
at the Louvre Museum in Paris.
The Colossus, The Shooting of May Third 1808 and Saturn
Devouring his Son are located at the Prado Museum in Madrid.
All are oil on canvas except the third which is composed
of oil on plaster transferred to canvas.
The Incantation found at the Lazaro Galgiano Foundation
in Madrid and Dona Teresa Sureda found at the Nation Gallery
of Art in Washington are works of oil on canvas.
Goya used his bold technique and unique and haunting satire
to emphasise that the most important aspect of art did not
stem from religiously following that which all other painters
of his time found to be vogue and the norm, but to prove
that the foresight, will and the vision of the artist must
be a pertinent issue when one has the responsibility of
immortalising chronicles of history.
In 1824, Spain was yet to see a democratic government after
a futile attempt to claim its democracy. Goya could no longer
bear the oppression taking place in Spain and subsequently
went into voluntary exile in France, where he lived his
days in the state of Bordeaux, until his death in 1828.
He continued his paintings there and today the best of his
ensemble can be seen in all their grandeur and splendour
at the Prado Museum in Madrid.
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