Early Art by Goya
Francisco de Goya is an innovative Spanish Romanticism painter, one of the great Spanish masters. As an artist, Goya was by temperament far removed from the classicals. In a few works he approached Classical style, but in the greater part of his work the Romantic triumphed. Straightforward candor and honesty are present in all Goya's works. The subversive and subjective element in his art, as well as his bold handling of paint, provided a model for the work of later generations of artists. For the bold technique of his paintings, the haunting satire of his etchings, and his belief that the artist's vision is more important than tradition, Goya is often called "the grandfather of modern art". Francisco de Goya became one of the most influential figures in Spanish art of all time. He was also extremely important in the development of modern aesthetic sensibility, a forerunner of Romanticism, both in the content of his paintings, with their in-depth exploration of reality and references to the dream world, and in his very original technique.
- A Walk In Andalusia (1777)
- The Crockery Vendor (1779)
- Portrait Of Maria Teresa De Vallabriga On Horseback (1783)
- The Count Of Floridablanca (1783)
- The Family Of The Infante Don Luis (1783)
- The Fall (La Caida) (1787)
- The Greasy Pole (La Cucana) (1787)
- The Injured Mason (1787)
- The Snowstorm (1787)
- Don Manuel Osorio Manrique De Zuniga (1788)
- The Family Of The Duke Of Osuna (1788)
- The Meadow Of San Isidro On His Feast Day (1788)
- Blind Man's Buff (1789)
- Witches' Sabbath (1789)
- The Straw Manikin (1792)
- The Wedding (1792)
- The Countess Del Carpio (1793)
- Fire At Night (1794)
- The Yard Of A Madhouse (1794)
- Self-Portrait In The Workshop (1795)
- Portrait Of Francisco Bayeu (1795)
- The Duchess Of Alba (1795)
A Walk In Andalusia (1777)
The popular dress worn by 'majos' and 'majas' was thought to have originated amongst the gypsies of southern Spain. Adopted by the people of Madrid at first for May Day festivities, in the 18th century it became a sort of national costume and a form of protest, too, against French influence.
The Crockery Vendor (1779)
A smart carriage rolls across the marketplace. The men only have eyes for the lady seated inside. Two young women, supervised by an ugly old woman, show off their own charms as they examine the crockery on display.
Portrait Of Maria Teresa De Vallabriga On Horseback (1783)
In the summer of 1783 the Infante Don Luis de Borbon, brother of Charles III, invited Goya to stay at his residence of Arena de San Pedro, where the painter executed a series of portraits (possibly sixteen) of Don Luis's family. Goya mentions the equestrian portrait of Maria Teresa de Vallabriga, the wife of Don Luis, in a letter to his friend Martin Zapater on 2 July 1784.
Although the artist referred to a painting that was unfinished, the reference has been linked to this canvas of the Uffizi.
Evident in this work is Goya's revival and re-adaptation of the 17-century tradition of the equestrian portrait, particularly that of Velazquez.
The Count Of Floridablanca (1783)
Goya's first formal portrait of an important politician represents Charles III's first minister for many years, amidst the attributes of his office. Goya used the portrait to publicize his talent and includes himself on the edge of the composition in a subservient pose.
The Family Of The Infante Don Luis (1783)
The brother of King Charles III - banished from court for marrying beneath him - commissioned this group portrait of his family and servants. It is evening, the master of the household is playing cards, while his wife is having her hair done.
The Fall (La Caida) (1787)
La Caida and La Cucana belong to a series of seven paintings of 'country subjects' made to decorate the large gallery in the Duchess of Osuna's apartment in the Alameda Palace, the Osuna country residence outside Madrid known as El Capricho. The paintings were delivered on 22 April 1787. La Caida is described in Goya's account for the paintings submitted on 12 May 1787: 'an excursion in hilly country, with a woman in a faint after a fall from an ass; she is assisted by an abbot and another man who support her in their arms; two other women mounted on asses (and) expressing emotion and another figure of a servant form the main group and others who had fallen behind are seen in the distance, and a landscape to correspond.'
Though on a smaller scale, this series of decorative paintings is similar in style and character to the tapestry cartoons; but unlike the tapestry cartoons it includes some scenes, such as La Caida, which appear to represent actual occurrences. It has been suggested that the fainting woman in La Caida is the Duchess of Osuna, that the figure supporting her is Goya and that the mounted woman weeping is the Duchess of Alba.
The Greasy Pole (La Cucana) (1787)
Painted at the same time as La Caida, La Cucana is described in Goya's account: 'a maypole, as in a village square, with boys climbing up it to win a prize of chickens and roscas (ring-shaped biscuits) that are hanging on top, and several people watching, with a background to correspond'. The small scale of the figures in relation to the background is a feature of all the paintings of this series. Later, in 1799, the Duke acquired seven of the sketches for tapestry cartoons that were never executed, to add to the collection of 'country subjects' painted by Goya for his country residence. Goya also painted portraits of the Duke and Duchess and a family group with their children (Museo del Prado, Madrid).
The Injured Mason (1787)
This belongs to the same series of cartoons as The Snowstorm and was also the model for a tapestry to decorate the dining-room in the Palace of El Pardo. The scene of an accident is even more unusual as palace decoration than The Snowstorm or Poor Children at the Fountain, another cartoon in the series. The dramatic subject has been related to an edict of Charles III, first published in 1778, concerning building construction and specifying how scaffolding should be erected 'to avoid accidents and the death of workmen'. In the sketch for the cartoon (also in the Prado), purchased by the Duke of Osuna in 1799, the two men carrying the 'injured' mason have jovial expressions, which have given rise to its modern title The Drunken Mason. Many years later Goya returned to the subject of a building site with elaborate scaffolding, in a drawing now in the Metropolitan Museum.
The Snowstorm (1787)
This was one of a series of tapestry cartoons, painted shortly after Goya's appointment as Painter to the King (Pintor del Rey) in 1786. The sketches were submitted to the King at the Escorial in the autumn of that year. The sketch for The Snowstorm was sold to the Duke of Osuna in 1799 as one of the Four Seasons. The cartoon and three others, painted at the same time for tapestries to decorate the dining-room in the Palace of El Pardo, may have been intended as representations of the Seasons. If so, Goya's Winter is unconventional in portraying men enduring the rigours of a snowstorm rather than enjoying the pleasures or comforts of the season.
Don Manuel Osorio Manrique De Zuniga (1788)
Like Velazquez, Goya was also in demand as a painter of children. After he was appointed Painter to the King of Spain, Charles III, the conde de Altamira commissioned him to paint portraits of his family, including his youngest son, Don Manuel, born in 1784. The fashionably dressed child holds a pet magpie on a string. In the background three cats stare menacingly at the bird, traditionally a symbol of the soul, which gives the painting a sinister and unsettling character. Goya apparently intended this portrait as an illustration of the frail boundaries that separate a child's world from the ever-present forces of evil.
The Family Of The Duke Of Osuna (1788)
This 'enlightened' couple, members of the upper aristocracy, were amongst the artist's most influential patrons. Pomp and status symbols are renounced in favour of a discreet idyll in a subdued palette of greys, browns and greens.
The Meadow Of San Isidro On His Feast Day (1788)
This was one of the sketches for a tapestry cartoon that was never executed, due to the death of Charles III, who had commissioned them. It was among the sketches sold to the Duke of Osuna in 1799. The scene represents the most popular festival in the Madrid calendar, which is still celebrated on 15 May, the feast day of the city's patron saint, Isidore the Labourer. In a letter to his friend Zapater in Saragossa, Goya wrote of the difficulties of such a subject especially as he had to finish this painting by the saint's day 'with all the bustle of the court'. It is in fact a rare example of a landscape by Goya, taken from the far side of the Manzanares River with the city's landmarks on the horizon, and in the foreground the crowds amusing themselves as at a fair, the pilgrims hard to distinguish among the animated crowds.
Goya's viewpoint must have been the Hermitage of San Isidro, the goal of the pilgrimage. The building in Goya's painting (also designed as a sketch for a tapestry cartoon), is still preserved, marking the spot where the saint struck a well of water with healing powers. On a tiny scale, Goya has included the pilgrims lining up to enter the church, a picnic scene and a group at the miraculous well. Many years later Goya was to decorate the walls of his country house, the Quinta del Sordo, built not far from the Hermitage, with a nightmare vision of A Pilgrimage to San Isidro.
Blind Man's Buff (1789)
In 1788 Goya was engaged on the sketches for cartoons for tapestries to decorate the bedroom of the Infantes in the Palace of El Pardo. Blind Man's Buff is the only finished cartoon made from these sketches (the sketch for it is in the Prado), probably because of the death of Charles III and the subsequent withdrawal of tapestries from El Pardo.
Goya has reverted to a conventional composition with marionette-like figures for the representation of a society pastime. Gathered on the banks of the Manzanares river are a number of ladies and gentlemen, some dressed in the latest Parisian fashions, others in the flamboyant costumes worn by Spanish 'majos' and 'majas'.
Witches' Sabbath (1789)
The old superstitious, heathen cult of Pan that was persecuted by the Church but which still persisted in the more remote corners of the country was the subject of Goya's attack in this painting. Among a group of fanatic and stupidly credulous women and witches sits a huge ram, demanding one of the children as sacrifice. On the ground lies the emaciated body of a child. The moon and a swarm of bats overshadow the day and darken the sky. The symbols all point to the Spanish Inquisition.
The Straw Manikin (1792)
This belongs to Goya's last suite of tapestry cartoons, the only series made for Charles IV after Goya's appointment as Court Painter. The tapestries were to decorate one of the apartments in the Escorial and the subjects, chosen by the King, were to be 'rural and jocose'. Goya had delayed making the sketches as he objected to receiving his instructions from Maella instead of from the Lord Chamberlain. He eventually submitted, since he did not, as he said, want to appear proud. After the naturalism of some of the earlier cartoons, the stiffness of the figures and their artificial expressions come as a surprise. The human figures are as puppet-like as the straw manikin they are tossing in a blanket. A light-hearted carnival tradition here assumes a cruel dimension in a scene that shows what strong women can do with a weak man.
The Wedding (1792)
In his later tapestry designs, Goya shows himself unafraid to introduce satire and criticism of the society of the day. With blessing of their families and the Church, an ugly, rich groom is marrying a pretty young bride.
The Countess Del Carpio (1793)
Maria Rita Barrenechea y Morante, born in about 1700, married Count del Carpio in November 1775; she died in 1795, and perhaps it is the approach of death which stamps such anxiety on the feverish, languid face, with its great dark eyes. The slender silhouette seems to materialize like a ghost in front of the plain background; in this simple picture, free of all rhetorical devices and exercising a curious fascination by reason of this very simplicity, one finds the strange 'supernatural' quality common to all the masterpieces of Spanish painting. The sylph-like body is only the fleshly covering of a burning spirit. We know that the Countess del Carpio was a cultivated woman; she wrote some poetry which was printed atjaen in 1783.
The pose is a curious one; the position of the feet, one at right angles to the other, suggests that she is about to perform a dance step, but this is belied by the calm and relaxed position of the crossed hands with the fan.
This picture is sometimes called the 'Marquesa de la Solana'; the Count del Carpio only inherited this title a few months before his wife's death. This portrait is usually considered to belong to Goya's 'grey' period, just before the illness (1792) which made him deaf and gave his art a more pathetic quality. This picture is a subtle harmony of greys and black, with a single note of colour - the pink ribbon rosette in the woman's hair.
Fire At Night (1794)
The uncommissioned subjects which Goya painted during his convalescence included not only lunatics in a courtyard, but also fires, shipwrecks and highway robberies. His world was no longer as cheerful and bright as the one he had been required to portray in his tapestry cartoons.
The Yard Of A Madhouse (1794)
While he was recovering from the serious illness that left him totally deaf, Goya occupied himself with a series of 'cabinet' paintings which he sent to the Academy and which won approval as scenes of 'national pastimes'. A few days later, he followed these with a twelfth painting of a very different character, which he described in detail in a letter to the Director. The rediscovery of this picture in 1967 provided a touchstone for the identification of the rest of the set of cabinet pictures that Goya had sent to the Academy which are now considered to include subjects such as a Shipwreck and a Fire hardly to be described as national pastimes as well as Strolling Players, and possibly a group of Bullfight scenes.
The Madhouse and other small paintings now in the Academy, once thought to have been among the scenes of so-called national pastimes are now generally attributed to a considerably later date, for stylistic reasons. The Yard of a Madhouse is one of many scenes Goya recorded that he had actually witnessed, among them some of the war scenes in the Desastres (with the titles 'I saw this' and 'this too'). Many of his etchings and drawings testify to his concern for the plight of lunatics and prisoners throughout his life. See, for instance, the drawing of a madman behind bars made in Bordeaux.
Self-Portrait In The Workshop (1795)
In this remarkable self-portrait that he painted in the early 1790s, Goya is at work on a large upright canvas, presumably a portrait, his eyes turned away from it towards his subject, which contemporary viewers might well have recognized as themselves. Bright sunshine floods from a large window behind the painter, and he wears a curious hat with candle holders on the brim.
It was undoubtedly as a portrait painter that Goya won fame and advancement and the special praise of Carderera, who observed his 'astonishing facility for portrait painting. He customarily painted portraits in a single session and these were the most life-like.' To this Goya's son added a detail that explains the unusual hat, with metal candlesticks around the crown, that he wears in the self-portrait in his studio: 'He painted only in one session, sometimes of ten hours, but never in the late afternoon. The last touches for the better effect of a picture he gave at night, by artificial light.' Goya's biographer, Matheron, also commented on this practice: 'He was so jealous of the effect that - like our Girodet who painted at night, his head crowned with candles - he gave the last touches to his canvases by candlelight.'
Portrait Of Francisco Bayeu (1795)
Goya's portrait of his brother-in-law and former teacher, whom he succeeded as Director of the Academy, was probably painted after Bayeu's death in August 1795. It was unfinished when it was exhibited in the Academy of San Fernando later in the same month. Although this portrait is based on a self-portrait by Bayeu it has all the appearance of a study from life. The predominance of grey and silvery tones is characteristic of a group of Goya's portraits dating from the last years of the eighteenth century. An earlier portrait of Bayeu (1786) by Goya is in the Museo San Pio V, Valencia.
The Duchess Of Alba (1795)
Goya had a close and lasting friendship with the Duchess, who was the last of an old noble line, and famous for her beauty, wit, and intelligence. When Goya was stricken with the mysterious illness that paralyzed him for a time, she arranged devotedly for his care. The full figure portrait can be interpreted as fervent thanks for her friendship. The painter has put his affection into the picture in a dedication written in the sand, to which the Duchess pointing: "A la Duquesa de Alba. Fr. de Goya 1795." The band of friendship on her wrist also bears his initials. Goya wanted to show her to posterity with a mild but watchful gaze. Her candid expression is emphasized by the raised brows and the framing curly hair. The palette is reduced to a few colours, the landscape is bare and the simplicity of the handling may stand for the sincerity of their friendship. Goya kept the painting, intending never to part with it.
Goya painted the Duchess two years later, dressed in black lace, and the motto to which she is pointing betrays their relationship: "Solo Goya!"
Francisco de Goya Art