Late 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 Prison Scene (1814)
- A Procession Of Flagellants (1814)
- A Village Bullfight (1814)
- King Ferdinand VII With Royal Mantle (1814)
- Majas On Balcony (1814)
- Portrait Of Ferdinand VII (1814)
- Portrait Of Mariano Goya, The Artist's Grandson (1814)
- The Burial Of The Sardine (1814)
- The Madhouse (1814)
- The Second Of May, 1808, The Charge Of The Mamelukes (1814)
- The Third Of May, 1808, The Execution Of The Defenders Of Madrid (1814)
- Self-Portrait (1815)
- Christ On The Mount Of Olives (1819)
- Portrait Of Juan Antonio Cuervo (1819)
- The Forge (1819)
- The Inquisition Tribunal (1819)
- The Last Communion Of St. Joseph Of Calasanz (1819)
- Self-Portrait With Doctor Arrieta (1820)
- Tio Paquete (1820)
- Duel With Cudgels (1823)
- Manola (La Leocadia) (1823)
- Portrait Of Ramon Satue (1823)
- Saturn Devouring One Of His Children (1823)
- The Dog (1823)
- Portrait Of The Poet Moratin (1824)
- The Milkmaid Of Bordeaux (1827)
A Prison Scene (1814)
This prison scene is related in style and character to a number of small paintings of war scenes and other subjects inspired by the Napoleonic invasion. Prisoners - not only prisoners of war - are among the victims of injustice and cruelty that figure in many of Goya's drawings and engravings. A garroted man is the subject of one of his earliest etchings and various other forms of punishment and torture are represented in later graphic works. Three etchings of about 1815 show chained and shackled prisoners very similar to those in the painting. This prison scene, executed with a minimum of colour, is remarkable for the atmosphere of gloom and the effect of anonymous suffering created by the lightly painted, indistinct figures in an enormous cavern-like setting.
A Procession Of Flagellants (1814)
The participation of flagellants in Holy Week processions in Spain was banned in 1777 but evidently not effectively since the ban was published again in 1779 and 1802. Goya's known hatred of fanaticism, explicit in many later drawings and engravings, suggests that his choice of subject was intended as an indictment of this form of public penance. So does his manner of recording the scene. The holy image of the Virgin is silhouetted against the dark wall of the church and the blood-stained figures of the flagellants stand out from and dominate the procession.
An Inquisition scene in the same series is similar in character. Both paintings combine realistic reportage with critical intent in a manner, often seeming to approach caricature, which is peculiar to Goya. Many years later he returned to the subject in a drawing entitled Holy Week in Spain in Times Past.
A Village Bullfight (1814)
Although many of his contemporaries were opposed to bullfighting (Charles III imposed restrictions on the sport; it was banned in 1808 but the ban was lifted by Joseph Bonaparte in 1810), there is every reason to believe that Goya was an aficionado. There is even some truth in the stories of his performance in the ring. Goya made portraits of several bullfighters and many paintings, drawings and engravings of the national sport. A scene of the baiting of young bulls (La Novillada), in which he portrayed himself, was the subject of one of his early tapestry cartoons, and a rounding up of bulls (El encierro de los toros) was one of his decorations for the Osuna country residence. In 1816 he published the Tauromaquia, a series of 33 etchings, for which he had made many drawings. Among his last works executed in France is a set of four lithographs, the Bulls of Bordeaux.
A Village Bullfight is one of his most impressive paintings of the subject. The sketchy style and dark tones create a vivid impression of the actions of the protagonists and of the dense crowd of spectators grouped round the scene. It was perhaps in a setting such as this that Goya himself sometimes entered the ring as an amateur bullfighter.
King Ferdinand VII With Royal Mantle (1814)
With the French finally expelled, in 1814 Ferdinand VII returned from exile. The 30-year-old monarch proceeded to hound Spain's liberals, with whom Goya was closely affiliated. Anxious to keep his post and salary as Court Painter, Goya executed six portraits of the King, none of them commissioned.
Majas On Balcony (1814)
Supervised by the threatening figures of two heavily-cloaked 'majos', two 'majas' look down upon the passers-by. One even gives a hint of a smile, highly unusual for Goya's women. Since 1995 the authenticity of this canvas has been in doubt.
Portrait Of Ferdinand VII (1814)
After the restoration of Ferdinand VII in 1814, Goya was commissioned to paint several portraits of him for ministries and public buildings. For these he seems to have used the same study of the King's head, possibly the drawing in the Biblioteca Nacional, Madrid. The pose, the setting and the costume are varied to suit the occasion. The effect - perhaps intentional - is that of a living head on the body of a dummy. In this ceremonial portrait, the King appears in the uniform of a Captain General with a military camp in the background - a conventional formula, since he had taken part in no military campaign, having spent the war years in France. The broad painting of the costume and decorations and the sketchy treatment of the background direct attention to the head of the King which stands out as a grimly realistic character study.
Portrait Of Mariano Goya, The Artist's Grandson (1814)
Goya was especially fond of his only grandson, Mariano, who was born on 11 July 1806. He painted his portrait on several occasions. There is an earlier full-length portrait of him by Goya aged about four and a head and shoulders of him as a young man in 1827. In the present portrait he appears to be six to eight years old. Seated beside an enormous musical score he is beating time with a roll of paper. This natural gesture, the informal pose and the thoughtful look on the child's face combine to make this one of the most intimate of Goya's portraits and reflects the great affection that he is known to have had for his grandson. It was to Mariano that Goya gave the Quinta del Sordo, the house containing the Black Paintings.
The painting is signed on the back of the panel: 'Goya, a su nieto' (Goya, to his grandson).
The Burial Of The Sardine (1814)
This painting, together with A Procession of Flagellants, A Village Bullfight, The Madhouse and a fifth, representing an Inquisition scene, entered the Academy in 1839 as the bequest of Manuel Garcia de la Prada, who had been a patron of the artist. In his will, dated 17 January 1836, they are described as 'Five pictures on panel, four of them horizontal, representing an auto da fe of the Inquisition, a procession of flagellants, a madhouse, a bullfight; another which is larger represents a masked festival; all painted in oil by the celebrated Court Painter don Francisco de Goya, and much praised by the Professors.'
The history of these five paintings before they entered Garcia de la Prada's collection is not known, now that they are no longer associated with the cabinet pictures made in 1793. They are now dated considerably later and the inclusion of the Inquisition scene suggests that they were probably painted after the suppression of the Inquisition in 1810, especially in view of the trouble Goya himself said he had with the Holy Office over Los Caprichos. The masked festival represents the 'Burial of the Sardine', a popular Spanish festival marking the end of Carnival and beginning of Lent, which still takes place in some parts of the country.
The Madhouse (1814)
In many ways this version of a lunatic asylum is more conventional than Goya's earlier eye-witness account of The Yard of a Madhouse. It has been compared with Hogarth's scene in Bedlam in the Rake's Progress and some of Goya's deranged men, like Hogarth's, wear traditional attributes - a crown, a feathered headdress and tarot cards. But Goya's Bedlam is a much more horrifying sight, a place of darkness only partially lit, with the postures, gestures and expressions of the inmates indicating their pitiful condition. This is a dramatic and compassionate expression of the kind of scene he saw in Saragossa.
Goya's life-long concern for the plight of the insane as well as of prisoners and his continued interest in the physiognomy of madness is evident from the many drawings he made of various conditions of insanity.
The Second Of May, 1808, The Charge Of The Mamelukes (1814)
After the expulsion of the Napoleonic armies in 1814 Goya applied for, and was granted, official financial aid in order 'to perpetuate with the brush the most notable and heroic actions or scenes of our glorious insurrection against the tyrant of Europe'. The two scenes that he recorded are not victorious battles but acts of anonymous heroism in the face of defeat. Here the people of Madrid armed with knives and rough weapons are seen attacking a group of mounted Egyptian soldiers (Mamelukes) and a cuirassier of the Imperial army. The composition, without a focal point or emphasis on any single action, creates a vivid impression of actuality, as if Goya had not only witnessed the scene (as he is alleged to have done) but had recorded it on the spot.
The Third Of May, 1808, The Execution Of The Defenders Of Madrid (1814)
Painted at the same time as The Second of May, Goya here represents another of the 'most notable and heroic actions...of our glorious insurrection against the tyrant of Europe' by a dramatic execution scene. The insurrection of the people of Madrid against the Napoleonic army was savagely punished by arrests and executions continuing throughout the night of 2 May and the following morning. There is a legend that Goya witnessed the executions on the hill of Principe Pio, on the outskirts of Madrid, from the window of his house and that, enraged by what he had seen, he went to visit the spot immediately afterwards and made sketches of the corpses by the light of a lantern.
Whether Goya saw for himself or knew them by hearsay only, the military executions of civilians is a theme that evidently impressed him deeply. He represented it in several etchings of Los Desastres de la Guerra and in some small paintings as well as in this monumental picture. Here the drama is enacted against a barren hill beneath a night sky. The light of an enormous lantern on the ground between the victims and their executioners picks out the white shirt of the terrified kneeling figure with outstretched arms. The postures, gestures and expressions of the madrilenos and the closed impersonal line of the backs of the soldiers facing them with levelled muskets, emphasize the horror of the scene. The dramatic qualities of this composition, with its pity for the execution of the anonymous victims and its celebration of their heroism, inspired Manet's several versions of the Execution of Maximilian.
The tilt of the head and concentrated expression of the eyes suggest that the artist has portrayed himself looking in a mirror or at the easel on which he is painting. Of the numerous self-portraits that Goya made during the course of his life, this painting, made when he was 69 years old, is perhaps the most intimate, with the exception of the likeness on his sick bed, frail and suffering, made five years later. A Self-Portrait in the Prado, signed and bearing the same date (discovered during recent cleaning), is similar in style and general appearance but there are slight variations in the pose and costume and in the expression of the face, which seems to reflect a more melancholy mood.
The portrait remained in Goya's possession until his death, when it passed to his son. He presented it to the Academy in 1829 when the debt for the equestrian portrait of Ferdinand VII, commissioned by the Academy and painted by Goya in 1808, was finally liquidated. Because of the unusual position of the head it was once suggested that this was a sketch for the Self-Portrait with Dr Arrieta but the direction of the head is different and this is the face of a 69-year-old, looking weary perhaps but with no sign of the ravages of illness that were to transform it.
Christ On The Mount Of Olives (1819)
Goya presented the 'Pious Schools' with another small panel depicting Christ, alone and wracked with doubt, shortly before his arrest. It is a pendant to the large altarpiece (The Last Communion of St Joseph of Calasanz) in which the artist celebrates trust and security.
Portrait Of Juan Antonio Cuervo (1819)
The sitter was an architect who was appointed Director of the Royal Academy of San Fernando in August 1815. He wears the uniform of his office and holds dividers, an attribute of his profession. The plan on the table beside him is possibly for the church of Santiago in Madrid on which he had worked in 1811 and which made his reputation. The portrait was probably finished before Goya fell ill at the end of 1819 and is one of his last official portraits. The inscription indicates that it is at the same time a portrait of a friend.
The Forge (1819)
The group of blacksmiths is based on a brown wash drawing of Three Men Digging (Metropolitan Museum, New York), which belonged to an album dated 1819 by Carderera. Goya has adapted the figures in such a way that the painting, like the drawing, gives the impression of a study from life. The subject is of a kind that he frequently recorded in drawings; there are many similar documentary scenes of men and women of the people in the 1819 series. As a subject The Forge is distantly related to The Injured Mason and similar in character to the small Water-carrier and Knife-grinder (Szepmuveszeti Museum, Budapest), which were in the artist's possession in 1812. However it is unique in Goya's oeuvre as a large-scale close-up view of men at work. The late sketchy style emphasizes the brutish appearance of all three figures and the attitudes of the blacksmiths, suggestive of enormous strength.
The Forge was undoubtedly an uncommissioned painting, which passed into the possession of Goya's son. It was later in the collection of King Louis Philippe and was sold at Christie's in 1853 for L10.
The Inquisition Tribunal (1819)
The Inquisition was introduced in Spain in the 15th century as a form of court run by the Church and intended to protect the monarchy. The last public 'auto da fe' was staged in Madrid in 1874. Nevertheless, under Ferdinand such a 'historical' scene could still be classed as anticlerical propaganda and could get the artist into trouble.
The Last Communion Of St. Joseph Of Calasanz (1819)
This last ecclesiastical commission for an altarpiece for the Saint's chapel was received in May 1819 to be completed by the saint's day on 27 August. A sketch in Bayonne is said to have been in the Quinta del Sordo at Goya's death. Goya is alleged to have said that this would be his last painting in Madrid, as it virtually was, apart from the decorations of the Quinta and the Self-Portrait with Dr Arrieta.
When the altarpiece was finished Goya wrote to the Rector returning most of the payment he had received saying: 'D. Francisco Goya has to do something in homage to his countryman', and a few days later he sent as a gift the small panel of The Agony in the Garden. These two paintings are outstanding in Goya's oeuvre for the intensity of the religious devotion they reflect. Goya may well have felt a personal involvement with the saint, who was not only a fellow Aragonese, canonized in Goya's lifetime (1767), but also the founder of the religious schools that are said to have given him his education in Saragossa. This large altarpiece with its highly charged dramatic subject is seen to its best advantage in the dimly-lit chapel for which it was painted.
Self-Portrait With Doctor Arrieta (1820)
In this highly original composition Goya has portrayed himself sitting up supported by his friend Dr Arrieta who is holding a glass to his mouth. The shadowy figures in the background are perhaps allusions to nightmare visions conjured up during his illness. They recall the dark figures in some of the paintings with which Goya covered the walls of the Quinta del Sordo, where he was living during his illness, in retirement from the court. Above all, they resemble the attendants of the priest giving communion to St Joseph of Calasanz. Painted no doubt during his convalescence like the cabinet pictures he painted when he was recovering from his earlier illness of 1793, he has successfully re-created or remembered his appearance when he was near to death: a transformation of his appearance five years earlier.
Goya presented his portrait to his doctor, Eugenio Garcia Arrieta, whom he esteemed highly a far cry from his earlier attitude to the ignorant ass of a doctor, the subject of his Capricho no. 40 entitled De que mal morira?. (Of What Ill Will he Die?). This portrait was evidently admired as a painting or for its subject as two copies were made by Goya's pupil Asencio Julia. It also was singled out for special praise by his friend and biographer Valentin Carderera (1835): 'The canvas in which he portrayed himself on his deathbed, at the moment when the distinguished Dr Arrieta was giving him the draught which restored him to his country and to his numerous admirers, is a work that recalls all the vigour and mastery of his best years. His likeness of himself in agony and the physiognomy of the doctor, animated by the most benevolent expression, are drawn and coloured with the greatest mastery. Throughout the work it seems that Goya was trying to rejuvenate his talent in order to show the extent of his gratitude.'
Tio Paquete (1820)
The painting was formerly in the collection of Goya's grandson, Mariano, and before it was relined the canvas was inscribed on the back: 'El celebre ciego fijo' ('The famous blind man'). The sitter was identified as a well-known beggar who used to sit on the steps of the church of San Felipe el Real in Madrid, and was invited to play the guitar and sing in the houses of members of the court.
Goya creates a vivid impression of the blind eyes and jovial expression of the old man in a style close to that of the 'black paintings'. At the same time it is remarkably similar to the manner of Velazquez in his portrayal of the facial expressions of court dwarfs.
Duel With Cudgels (1823)
Two men are battling each other with cudgels. Both are standing up to their knees in sand, so that neither can run away, and it remains unclear whether even the victor will be able to extricate himself. There are no spectators in sight. Bloody madness in a bleak landscape.
Manola (La Leocadia) (1823)
The woman dressed in mourning may represent Leocadia Weiss, who became Goya's partner after the death of his wife, Josefa. She is leaning against a mound of earth with a grave rail on top. The artist offers no explanation for the scene. It is possible that Goya himself is supposed to be lying in the grave, and that his Black Paintings are meant to be seen as messages from the hereafter.
Portrait Of Ramon Satue (1823)
The sitter in this painting has been identified as a nephew of Jose Duaso y Latre, the clergyman in whose house Goya took shelter in 1823 at the end of the liberal interlude. It has been suggested that the date in the inscription has been altered and that the portrait was painted not later than 1820, the last year in which Satue held office as Alcalde de Corte (a City Councillor of Madrid). From the costume, the informal pose and the style of painting it could have been painted either in 1820 or 1823.
Saturn Devouring One Of His Children (1823)
Saturn Devouring One of his Children is perhaps the cruellest of the Black Paintings.The nightmare quality is combined with myth to make an epochal statement: this is the madness of truth. Whether this is a reflection of Goya's own mental state, or an allegory on the situation in a country that was consuming its own children in bloody wars and revolutions, or a statement on the human condition generally, may remain open. It could also be a reflection of the situation of the enlightened man who has lost his God and is able to experience only mercilessness on cosmic scale.
The Dog (1823)
The dog's head occupies barely one percent of the pictorial plane. The rest is colour devoid of objects. Never before had an artist exercised such radical renunciation in order to portray solitude.
Portrait Of The Poet Moratin (1824)
Leandro Fernandez de Moratin (1760-1828) was a Spanish dramatist and poet. A supporter of Joseph Bonaparte, he lived in exile in France after Bonaparte fell. Moliere, whose works he translated, was his literary model. His plays, satiric and psychologically acute, include El si de las ninas (the maidens' consent) (1806), for which he was denounced to the Inquisition. He was subsequently compelled to give up playwriting. He was a friend of Goya who painted his portrait twice, this one in Bilbao, and another in 1799 which is now in the Museo de la Real Academia de San Fernando, Madrid.
The Milkmaid Of Bordeaux (1827)
This is one of Goya's last female figures, a painting in changing shades of blue. Blue had served as the colour of the Virgin's mantle in art since the Middle Ages. For Goya, blue radiated a positive aura. He rarely used it. The Milkmaid strikes a new note, far from the gloom and despondency of the Quinta del Sordo, the obscurity of the Proverbios and the records of cruelty and madness in his late black chalk drawings. It recalls something of the light and colour of earlier works made in happier times. Goya, according to his friend and fellow exile Leandro Fernandez Moratin, was pleased with 'the city, the country, the climate, the food, the tranquility' that he enjoyed in Bordeaux. A few months later he complains of the artist's 'arogantilla', painting only what takes his fancy and unwilling ever to correct anything that he has painted.
Like his cabinet pictures of 1793, The Milkmaid is a subject for which there would be no call in commissioned works and it would hardly lend itself to any correction. According to Matheron, in Bordeaux Goya dispensed altogether with brushes, using instead his palette knife and a rag - 'what matter?'. Here is an example of his very late technique used also in his last portraits in which the brush certainly plays a part; brushstrokes that are separate but that combine to re-create the aged artist's vision - with failing eyesight - of the living woman. This painting more than any other has been taken to show Goya as a precursor of the Impressionists. Goya evidently valued this painting highly as he warned his companion Leocadia Weiss not to let it go for less than an ounce of gold, as she told his friend and fellow exile Juan Bautista Muguiro, when she, in great need, agreed to sell it to him in the year after Goya's death.
Francisco de Goya Art