Francisco de Goya and Lucientes (1746-1828)
The outstanding representative of the Spanish school of painting, Francisco José de Goya i Lucientes, is a unique artist who managed to embody in his art the tragic fate of the Spanish people, his hopes and countless sufferings, enduringly endured with endless vitality. The inspiration for the artist was the real events taking place in his country. Having no other power than the power of art, the artist through his paintings expressed his personal attitude to the reality surrounding him and what was happening in his beloved homeland.
The early years of the great master
The future great artist Francisco Goya was born in the small village of Fuentetodos, located among the Aragonese rocks in the northern part of Spain, on March 30, 1746 in the family of master gilder Jose Goya. The artist’s father was not a commoner, he came from a family of a wealthy notary who received his specialty in Zaragoza. This situation allowed him to marry a representative of the lowest strata of the Spanish nobility, Don García Lucientes. After a modest wedding, the young family moved to the estate, inherited and located in Fuentetodos. According to Spanish law of that time, nobles could only live on the income brought by their possessions, and had no right to work.
In this state of affairs, the Goya family could hardly make ends meet. This forced the head of the family to transport his household back to Zaragoza, where he could take up his craft. What happened in 1759. Having slightly improved his financial situation after the move, the family father sent his three sons Thomas, Camillo, and Francisco to the primary school of Joaquin’s father. I must say that the education that the boys received there is hard to call good, Father Joaquin preferred theology to literacy, which was reflected in the entire subsequent life of the artist. Until the end of his life, Goya wrote with errors, and his pronunciation and vocabulary unmistakably betrayed a commoner in him. True, it should be noted that at the end of the XVIII century in Spain a good education was available only to a handful of the elite.
After leaving school, Francisco enters a Jesuit school in Zaragoza. His mentor, Father Pignatelle, immediately noticed the boy’s outstanding artistic abilities and recommended it to his relative Jose Lusana y Martinez, who was once a court painter. Father Francisco was not opposed and paid his son art lessons for four years. During this time, Francisco Goya not only comprehended the basics of painting and drawing, but also created numerous engravings and etchings from the works of outstanding Spanish masters. Already at this time, Francisco showed incredible perseverance and determination. To achieve maximum expressiveness of the image of various movements of the human body, the young artist, in addition to the workshop of Lucian, also visited the sculpture school of Juan Ramirez. In it, he made copies of sculptures and created student studies. It should be noted that in Spain of this period there was a taboo on images of a naked body, especially a female, therefore sculpture classes for Goya were almost the only opportunity to study human anatomy.
Thanks to his perseverance, Francisco quickly established himself as a brilliant copyist, subtly grasping the features of the artistic manner and style of illustrious painters. Thanks to this, in 1760, he received his first order for painting a reliquary in a church in Fuentetodos. Unfortunately, this work was completely destroyed in 1936 during the Spanish Civil War. But its appearance can be reconstructed from surviving photographs. The outer sides of the wooden reliquary wings were decorated with the image “The Appearance of the Madonna del Pilar in front of St. James”, and on the inside were depicted “St. Francis de Paula” and “Madonna and Child”. According to the surviving evidence, contemporaries praised the artist’s work, although Goya, who saw her, being already at an advanced age, was indignant: “Don’t say that I painted it!”.
In 1763, the seventeen-year-old Goya, who finally decided to connect his life with art, left Zaragoza and went to Madrid. The first years of the artist’s stay in the Spanish capital are shrouded in secrets and legends. From reliable information that has reached us, it is only known that at the end of 1763, immediately after his arrival in Madrid, Francisco applied to the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in San Fernando for a scholarship, but was refused. What Goya did in Madrid for the next two years is completely unknown. In 1766, Francisco participated in a competition announced by the Academy on a theme from Spanish history. The task was formulated as follows: "Martha, the Empress of Byzantium, arrives in Burgos to King Alfonso the Wise to ask him for a part of the amount that the Sultan appointed to ransom her husband, the captive of the Emperor Baldwin, and the Spanish monarch orders to give her that amount." Ramon Bayer received the gold medal of the competition, and Goya failed, which became only one of a series of failures that pursued him in the first period of his work.
But participation in the competition brought Goya some benefit, at which he met Ramon Bayeu and his brother Francisco, a member of the academic jury, to which he immediately entered the students. For about three years, the young painter lived and studied in the house of a new mentor, during which time he passionately fell in love with his sister Josef. Goyal affection did not prevent Goya from leaving for Rome in 1769, where he continued his education.
Unfortunately, no reliable information about the two years of Francisco de Goya’s life in Italy has been preserved. The only surviving data mention the participation of the artist in a competition held by the Parma Academy of Fine Arts. As part of the competition, he created the painting "Hannibal, gazing from the heights of the Alps into the fields of Italy." The canvas enjoyed some success with the jury, however, Goya was again out of luck. With a margin of just one vote, the gold medal of the competition again went to another.
Recognition of talent
In 1771, Francisco Goya returned to Zaragoza, disappointed and tired of failure. After several months, the artist finally smiled luck, he received his first order. It was required to complete a series of religious paintings in the chapel of the palace of the local Count Gabard de Sobradiel. Goya tried his best, as a result, the frescoes turned out to be very high quality and liked by the customer. This was the first significant success of the painter in the professional field.
Soon, the artist was commissioned to complete a series of sketches for the frescoes of the dome of the Cathedral of Madonna del Pilar in Zaragoza. For a month of work, Goya managed to create works that hit the members of the commission for the reconstruction of the cathedral. This was the second success proving Francisco’s ability to create superb murals. Although, it should be mentioned that a significant role in the fact that Goye got the order was played by the price of the works, exhibited by the artist himself by ten thousand reais less than the rest of the contestants. Be that as it may, by the middle of 1772 the artist had finished work on the painting of the dome. The fresco, entitled "Adoration of the Angels in the Name of the Lord", was made in the Baroque style. Saturated with numerous figures of angels depicted in the image of beautiful women, whose variety of angles emphasizes the dynamics of the composition, built on continuous movement, it brought the artist a long-awaited and well-deserved success.
Participation in the creation of the picturesque decoration of the Cathedral of the Madonna del Pilar was a turning point in the career of the artist. In addition to respect for fellow citizens and material well-being, Goya also received a constant stream of orders, which is so important for any artist. His next work was the creation of a whole cycle of frescoes for the monastery de Aul Dei and the church of di Menuel. This allowed Francisco to gain a proper position in society and become the most successful artist in Zaragoza. There came a time when Goya could finally afford to get married.
In the early spring of 1773, the artist went to Madrid with his teacher Francisco Bayeu to ask for the hands of his sister Josefa. Everything turned out well, and the happy lovers got married during a magnificent ceremony, held on July 25 of that year. Immediately after the wedding, the newlyweds went to Zaragoza, where Francisco awaited numerous unfinished orders. Strange as it may seem, practically no information has come down to us about the companion of the life of the great painter, neither in her private nor in state archives there are either her letters or reviews of her contemporaries, there is not even information about the number of children born in almost forty years of their life together. It is generally accepted that all the artist’s children died at a young age, and only one of his sons, Francisco Javier Pedro, became a real support to his father and the successor of his work. Biographers and art historians can only assume that Josefa was a devoted wife and a caring guardian of the hearth, but obviously she was very little interested in social life. Only the date of her death, 1812, is reliably known. It is surprising that during his long family life, Francisco Goya painted only one portrait of his wife.
Finding a position at the royal court
At the beginning of 1774, large-scale work began on the reconstruction of tapestries of the royal manufactory of Santa Barbara. The restoration commission included Antoine Rafael Mengsu and Francisco Bayeu. The second was responsible for the distribution among the pretending artists of orders for the creation of sketches of future tapestries. Thanks to this, Goya and Ramon Bayeu received a large order, which provided them with a permanent and well-paid job. This order facilitated the artist’s move to Madrid with his entire family.
The subjects of the first sketches commissioned by the painter were hunting and fishing. Goya quickly completed sketches of thematic scenes on cardboard. Despite the rather dry and restrained style of sketches, with practically no elaborated space around the characters, they received the approval of the king, and the artist was awarded a new order, the theme of which was a scene from the life of ordinary Spaniards.
This is where the true talent of the painter was revealed. These sketches laid the foundation for a series of ingenious works that glorified the artist for many centuries. He chose brightly dressed young women (mahi) and their colorful companions (maho) as the heroes of his cardboards. The compositions are based on stories from the life of the people: games, holidays, street scenes. Sound rich tones of the paintings realistically convey the carefree mood of universal fun. In his works, the artist with great observation showed a variety of folk types and vibrant national costumes, as well as leisure and manners of urban youth. According to the tastes of his time, the master slightly idealized the shapes of his characters. But the artist’s color palette is shown here in all its glory – numerous color nuances of various tones immediately distinguished Goya among his contemporaries.
The most striking works of this period include the paintings “Seller of dishes” (1779, Prado Museum, Madrid), “Festivities on the day of St. Isidore” (1788, Prado Museum, Madrid), “Maha and Her Fans” (1777), Prado Museum, Madrid) and others. But the best work among them is cardboard for the Umbrella tapestry (Prado Museum, Madrid), written in 1776. The sketch is a simple genre sketch. In the foreground sits a lovely girl in an elegant pose, as if demonstrating herself to the viewer, a captivating smile on her lips. The young companion of the girl stands to her left, blocking the young lady from the sun’s rays with an open umbrella. The composition of the cardboard is permeated with the joy and carelessness of life. The highlight of the picture was the complex, almost fantastic lighting, with which Goya creates a harmonious musical flavor, built on pastel colors.
The enlightenment of this work at the royal court was affected by the enlightenment of the minds of the French Enlightenment, with its departure from the strict canons, so revered earlier in Spain. Thanks to this success among the aristocracy, on May 7, 1780, Francisco Goya was unanimously elected to the new members of the Royal Academy of Fine Arts of San Fernando. Already in 1785, he became its vice director, after another ten years – the director of the painting department at the Academy.
Between 1786 to 1791, a change of intonation is planned in the master’s cardboard. More and more in his works, the desire to convey not the external attractiveness of the plot, but the emotional state of the characters, who became more “earthly” having lost the external gloss and beauty, so characteristic of the artist’s earlier works, is manifested. This is clearly seen in such works as The Blindfold Game (circa 1788-1790, Prado Museum, Madrid) and The Wounded Mason (1786 Prado Museum, Madrid), which became one of the key works of this period.
The picture is distinguished by a truly dramatic plot: young workers carry in the arms of their comrade who has torn from a height. In their poses and in how the artist interprets the volumes of their bodies, a certain commitment of the master to the traditions of classicism comes through. The cold color of the composition is based on a combination of shades of blue, gray and ocher. Although the work does not yet have that piercing tragic sound, so characteristic of many of Goya’s subsequent paintings, it already fully reflects the basic intonations of the master’s mature work.
At the end of his work for the royal manufactory, Goya creates another masterpiece of his own – “The Doll” (“The Game in the Pele”, 1791-1792, Prado Museum, Madrid). Having worked at the Santa Barbara manufactory for about eighteen years, the artist created more than sixty cardboards. Over the years, the master has acquired not only influential friends and patrons, but also many envious and ill-wishers.
The evolution of the portraiture of the artist
Working on sketches for tapestries, Goya painted a lot of custom portraits at the same time. His early works of this genre speak of the great desire of the artist to succeed at all costs, this is especially noticeable in the way the painter flattered his noble models.
An example is the ceremonial “Portrait of Count Floridablanca” (1783, Bank of Urquijo, Madrid), in which the omnipotent prime minister is depicted standing full-length, in his office dressed in all the regalia of power and power. The personal items surrounding the count testify to his hobbies, his figure in the picture is highlighted by luminous bright colors, and contrasts sharply with his surroundings. The Prime Minister is not the only one depicted – his secretary is standing in the back of the room, and to the left of Count Goya has depicted himself from one of his works. In the picture, Floridablanc does not notice others and calmly looks in front of him, it also happened in life. The count reacted coldly to the work of the artist and did not even pay the painter who had high hopes for meeting such an influential person, expecting to see a patron in his face.
The artist learned a bitter lesson and later, in the same year, while visiting the villa of the brother of the King of Spain – Infanta don Luis de Bourbon, where he painted his family portrait, he no longer sought to flatter such high-ranking persons. In his work on this picture, the desire to convey the depth of characters and the individuality of each model is clearly traced.
The composition of the “Portrait of the Family of the Infanta Don Luis de Bourbon” (1783, Magnani Rock Fund Mamiano Foundation, Parma) was built on the principle of everyday genre scenes. The whole family of don Luis gathered around a small table on which the infante lays out solitaire. But the real center of composition is not at all he, but his wife Maria Teresa, dressed in light, as if shining clothes. Her hair is combed by the hairdresser standing behind her. On the left side of the canvas, Goya again depicted himself working on this painting. A rather large canvas (248 x 330 cm) well demonstrates the artist’s increased skill. The artist managed to convey the characters of the heroes in a tactful and at the same time very realistic manner. The color of the work is based on a mixture of dark warm colors with slight accents of blue and green, giving the canvas a sonorous musical sound.
After creating this portrait, Goya finally found what he dreamed of – acquaintance with the influential and powerful patronesses, which became the Duchesses Alameda Osuna and Alba. The artist managed to get along with both of them, despite the fact that they were sworn rivals always and in everything. A new stage began in his life, his career was now doomed to a rapid rise.
Soon, the artist began work on a portrait of the bride of Count Floridablanca. “Portrait of the Marquise de Pontejos y Sandoval, Duchess of Pontejos” (1786, National Picture Gallery, Washington) is made in the strict framework of the parade portrait. The style of the work is very close to the earliest works of this genre. The figure of the marquise is depicted against the backdrop of an ideal landscape (Goya will use this technique for female portraits until the end of the 18th century), her whole image is natural and calm. The beautiful silk dress of the heroine, painted by the artist with great skill, distracts the viewer from the sad expression of her face.
Two years later, Goya will write another of his famous group portrait – “The family of the Duke of Osun” (1788, Prado Museum, Madrid). In this work, a new manner of the artist is already manifested, which in the future will become the most striking manifestation of his individual style. The main feature of his work is the focus on the psychological state of his heroes. At the same time, in order to divert the attention of the exacting gaze of eminent customers from his own assessment of their personalities, Goya carefully and masterfully draws all the finest details of their exquisite clothes and jewelry. The background of the portraits becomes monophonic, so that nothing distracts the viewer from the contemplation of models. The most striking examples of portraits of this period include the “Portrait of Don Manuel Osorio de Zoonig” (1788, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York).
Soon, finally, the artist’s dream came true – in April 1789, Goya received the post of court painter so desired by him. I must say, success turned his head so much that he began to ignore the manufacture of cardboard for tapestries. This led to the artist the anger of the director of the manufactory, who immediately wrote a complaint to the king. The old mentor of the painter Francisco Bayeu had to work hard to make amends for his relative and hush up the scandal. Fortunately for Goya, everything worked out, and he began to work quietly at court, doing portraits of those in power. So, in 1795 he writes his famous "Portrait of Maria Theresa Cayetan de Silva, Duchess of Alba" (Prado Museum, Madrid). The image of the Duchess is very effective, a white dress in sharp contrast with a shock of curly black hair and red accents in the form of a wide satin belt,tightening the heroine’s thin waist, and with red bows on her chest and hair. This contrasting combination of colors gives the entire canvas a major sound.
Painting of the Church of St. Anthony
In addition to constant orders for etchings and portraits, the court painter Francisco de Goya received very honorable and profitable orders for the creation of monumental paintings. So in 1798, King Carlos IV commissioned the artist to paint the domes and walls of the just finished temple of San Antonio de la Florida.
The church was built by order of the king by the famous architect of the time Fontana, who managed to complete the work in just six years, from 1792 to 1798. The frescoes of the temple were supposed to tell about the life of St. Anthony of Padua, the monk of the Franciscan who lived in the XIII century. For thirty-six years allotted to him, St. Anthony gained fame as an outstanding orator. Stories and legends and his virtuous life, miracles and soulful sermons were known throughout the country, he was even called the “Lamp of the Order”.
In the work on the frescoes, the artist was given complete freedom of action, and Goya took this opportunity to rethink the traditional canons of church painting.
According to tradition, the entire coupon space when creating frescoes had to be occupied by images of angels, a cross or Christ. Goya decided to put there a plot dedicated to the miracle of the resurrection of the dead by St. Anthony, performed in front of an amazed crowd. With this gesture, the artist exalted the saint to whom the temple was dedicated. The painter placed angels and archangels on the walls and supporting arches, and small angels occupied the sails.
Goya’s resurrection scene acquired a completely realistic interpretation. St. Anthony is depicted with his companions, surrounded by a diverse audience, who carefully watches his actions. In an effort to give the fresco maximum realism, the artist focused on conveying the images of ordinary people, depicting the crowd as if it got here directly from the streets of Madrid. The circular compositional solution gives the work the effect of continuous movement and dynamism. In contrast to the realistic images of the central fresco, Goya depicted the representatives of the heavenly army as idealized and sophisticatedly refined. The painting of this temple is still considered one of the best monumental and decorative works of Goya.
Image of human vices
The 90s of the 18th century became a turning point in the consciousness and work of Goya. A serious illness pushed to rethinking the artist’s life and work, as often happens. The first attacks of an unknown disease befell the painter in the fall of 1792. Severe migraines, alternating with dizziness, ended in partial paralysis. Most of all, the unhappy artist was afraid of losing his sight. The disease crippled the moral spirit of Goya, he was constantly in a gloomy mood, and his loved ones seriously feared for his life. Fortunately, these attacks ended relatively well, already in the spring of next year, the painter felt much better.
In the summer, the artist almost completely recovered from the disease, although not without loss. The disease completely deprived him of his hearing, but this did not prevent the master from taking up his brush immediately after recovery. The experienced suffering and fear of death aroused in the artist a passionate and genuine interest in the spiritual and social being of man. He looked with different eyes at the structure of Spanish society and rethought his own system of values. The joy of life and the radiance of the sun for a long time left the artist’s work.
All this prompted the painter to create a series of works entitled "Caprichos" (Fads). It included eighty etchings created between 1797 and 1799. In a fantastic grotesque form, the artist reflected the tense social situation and the whole unflattering side of the feudal order of Spain.
All drawings ridicule human vices: cruelty, ignorance, cowardice, pretense, selfishness, gullibility, greed and much more. All etchings in the series are based on the contrast of light and shadow, expressed by large black and white spots. Goya showed remarkable symbolist talent and great ingenuity. All Caprichos characters have a very vivid personality that expresses the vice that they represent. The poses, gestures, facial expressions of the heroes are so expressive that it becomes impossible to determine where the truth is and where the fiction.
The first works from the Capriccios series are mainly devoted to vices that consume female souls: insidiousness, inconstancy and deceit. On these sheets, young dear women vilely deceive their gentlemen, and the ugly old woman-procurators are engaged in the corruption of inexperienced girls.
Starting with sheet 37, there are drawings devoted to ignorance: they show images of donkeys that heal, play music, teach each other, give speeches and pose for monkeys. All subsequent etchings through the grotesque clearly demonstrate to us how the moral ugliness of people produces evil spirits. On black nights, sorceresses and brownies perform their rites, laugh, grimace, gather on the Sabbath and torment their unfortunate victims. But when the sun rises, all the beasts do not disappear or die, they only change their appearance, becoming ordinary, outwardly respectable people. And so endlessly.
43 sheet – an engraving entitled “The Dream of Reason Gives Monsters” – has become one of the most famous. Goya provided him with interesting accompanying comments: “The imagination abandoned by the mind gives rise to unprecedented monsters, but in conjunction with the mind, it becomes the mother of all arts and the source of miracles they create. ” In fact, such comments were made by the artist to each sheet of the collection, but, according to contemporaries, such descriptions of the plot further complicated his perception, “closing his eyes to everyone who did not have a clue. “
According to the plan of the painter, “Caprichos” were to make compatriots perk up and decide to confront their position imposed by the aristocracy. In 1799, Goya at his own expense printed three hundred copies of the series. Four copies, even before they went on sale, were bought by the Duchess of Osuna. Another 27 were sold over the next few years. True, after some time, Capriccios still gained popularity among romantic artists.
The evolution of style and worldview All this time, the master did not stop working in the portrait genre, which he was constantly ordered by the court aristocracy. Moving away from the previous, somewhat superficial interpretation of the characters and plots, he moved on to strict intellectual realism. The paintings created at the turn of the 18th and 19th centuries are distinguished by a subtle expressive system of artistic techniques that allowed the artist to fully reveal the inner essence of the characters. These works already reflect the new trends in painting, close to the visual ideals of the era of romanticism.
The master begins to pay more and more attention to psychology, he tries to emphasize the tragic compression of the personality under the yoke of external circumstances. Goya seems to appreciate the potential of an individual, regardless of his social status. Often, this is expressed in caustic sarcasm, clearly visible in a number of portraits of the powerful. Another distinctive feature of the new period of the artist’s work was the rich color palette and emphasized plastic volume, silver-gray, airy color of the 1790s was forever in the past.
At the beginning of the 19th century, Goya received a large order from the royal family for the execution of a series of her portraits. One of the most remarkable works of this period was the “Portrait of the Family of King Carlos IV” (1800, Prado Museum, Madrid). During the execution of this large-scale canvas (the dimensions of which were 280 x 336 cm), the artist managed to create separate portraits of each member of the crowned family. Work on the family portrait itself lasted about a year.
The first thing that attracts attention when looking at this picture is the magnificence of the costumes of all members of the royal family, written with great skill. Luxurious fabrics, weightless veils, iridescent jewels and regalia of power overshadow the images of the heroes themselves. This effect was sought by the artist. Because, if you look closely at the frozen pompous faces of family members, you can notice the subtle psychological characteristic that Goya gave to each of them.
For example, the image of Queen Mary Louise was painted with photographic clarity. The painter realistically depicted her hooked nose, double chin and thin, lips stretched in a smile. Maria Louise stands in the center of the canvas, younger children are standing around her, King Carlos IV is shown on the left, and her eldest son in a blue silk camisole is to the right of the queen. Subsequently, he will become a tyrant Ferdinand VII (look at his evil face). Next to Ferdinand is his bride, she turned away from the viewer, since at the time of writing the picture, an agreement on their marriage was not reached. In the left corner of the picture, in the deep shadow, Goya painted himself.
The portrait very subtly conveys relationships within the family. If you pay attention to how the characters of the picture stand, it is striking that they look like a fragmented, frozen crowd that filled the whole canvas. The artist intentionally emphasizes the inconsistency of their views and gestures. And the color of the picture itself is built on a scattered combination of unusually colorful spots.
Despite the fact that none of the crowned family showed even a shadow of indignation over the finished work (the queen even made fun of her “unsuccessful” appearance), the canvas was the last order received by the artist from the royal family.
But the most significant works of the artist of this period (1800 – 1803) were the canvases “Dressed Swing” and “Naked Swing” (Prado Museum, Madrid). Presumably, these two works were created by order of Prime Minister Manuel Godoy. According to sources, the original names of the paintings were “Gypsy Dressed” and “Gypsy Nude”. The female image created by the artist on these canvases embodied a lively and sensual beauty, contrasting sharply with the cold canons of academism. Reliable information about the identity of the girl who served as the model for these works was not preserved. According to one version, it was Godoy’s mistress, according to others – the Duchess of Alba, who, according to rumors, had a rather long relationship with the artist himself. True, no real evidence of this has been found.
In the next two years, from 1804 to 1806, the artist creates a number of interesting female images. These include Portrait of Francisco Sabas y Garcia (1804, National Gallery of Art, Washington), Portrait of Dona Teresa Sured (1804-1806, National Picture Gallery, Washington) and Portrait of Dona Isabel Cabos de Porsel (circa 1805, National Gallery, London). All canvases are written in a free manner, different from his early low-key works. The master, by delicately mixing many related shades of tone, manages to achieve a very realistic interpretation of the models. The faces of young women are filled with a romantic impulse, and the poses and looks are full of determination. Dark canvases are a tribute to the established tradition of that time, but, despite this,the artist manages to achieve the rich sound of all colors and incredibly realistic transmission of young girls. Another feature of portraits is that the painter does not select their outfits and accessories, as was the case in his earlier work, and the personality characteristics of the heroines, their character and psychology.
Then the artist creates another work with memorable female images – “Swinging on the Balcony” (1805-1812, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York). The canvas depicts two lovely young women sitting on the balcony. In the background, in dark colors, the silhouettes of their companions are written out. The fragile figures of the girls, their crafty smiles and touching eyes look alluring and attractive, but the appearance of their companions is alarming and creates a sense of danger.
Soon a war broke out with France. Goya received many government orders for portraits of army generals, and in between created etchings assembled into a common series called The Disasters of War. In total, the series includes about eighty works. In them, the painter depicted military operations without embellishment. Not of any heroism or ostentatious courage, only what actually happens in the war is the hardening of the human heart, which becomes capable of any atrocities and betrayals.
A series of etchings dedicated to the war, became the pinnacle of the artist’s realistic work. Many works reflect what the painter himself saw and experienced over the years. The whole tragedy of the Spanish people is depicted ruthlessly, truthfully, without a drop of idealization: mountains of corpses, looting, fires, famine, executions.
It should be noted that the painter’s goal, first of all, was not documentary accuracy, but the expression through this series of works of the tension and tragedy that he felt, passing through the years of the war. The deep subtext, the combination of reality and grotesque, allegory and science fiction along with a sober analysis of reality, and the sharp expressiveness achieved through sharp black-and-white contrasts predicted completely new development paths in the European engraving genre.
On a cardboard “A sad foreboding of what is about to happen” (1810, National Library of Madrid), a man in torn clothes is depicted, his arms are helplessly spread to the sides, and his eyes full of despair and tears are raised to the sky in a soundless question. In the background, chaos and destruction reign, the losses that the hell of war inevitably brings with it. Etching opens the series “Disasters of War” and is, in fact, its leitmotif.
All the horrors of war go through a series of etchings of an eerie and frightening realistic sequence: countless corpses, violence against women, execution of rebels and carts with the dead. The events and images depicted by the master so accurately convey the essence of hostilities that they could serve as an illustration to absolutely any of the armed conflicts experienced by all mankind. It was important for the artist to emphasize that the victims of monstrous interstate conflicts are not only soldiers of official troops, but also defenseless civilians: children, old people, women. The series was able to come out in full assembly only in 1863, after 35 years spent under the rule of France.
The end of the first decade of the 19th century was a difficult, difficult time for Spain. Discontent in the country was constantly growing, and King Carlos IV proved to be a weak-willed and insolvent politician. In fact, the country was ruled by his spouse and her favorite – Prime Minister Manuel Godoy. They completely subjugated the king and squandered the treasury, bringing Spain to almost complete ruin. This caused popular unrest, which led to an acute crisis in the country.
In 1808, King Carlos abdicated in favor of the eldest son Ferdinand VII. While confusion was taking place at the Spanish court, caused by the division of power, Napoleon, taking advantage of the situation, captured the young ruler and put his brother Joseph on the Spanish throne, and brought his troops into the country. The French emperor motivated his action exclusively with good intentions, namely, the need to resist the ripening revolution. Thus began the bloody war of Spain with France.
This year, Goya creates his painting “The Colossus” (1808, Prado Museum, Madrid), in which he expresses all the confusion and tension prevailing in society. Most of the composition is occupied by a giant figure of a fierce Colossus, clenching his fists. A giant walks through Spanish land, touching thunderclouds. His appearance causes general panic. The figure of Colossus most likely personifies the mercilessness of war, bringing general ruin, destruction and chaos.
In the fall of the same year, the artist leaves the capital and goes to Zaragoza, already destroyed by French troops. The appearance of the ruined and burned hometown amazed the painter to the depths of his soul and gave him a new impetus to creativity.
At this time, Madrid was in a fever from the news. On the streets they said that the French did not just want to arrest, but to deal with the entire royal family. On May 2, 1808, crowds of people gather in front of the royal palace in Puerta del Sol. They demand from the French evidence that the youngest son of the former king Carlos IV, the thirteen-year-old prince Francisco de Paula, beloved among the people, is still alive. Gradually, the situation grew tense, the heated Spaniards rushed to guard the palace. They were met by armed rebuff. Locals are faced with Egyptian mercenaries – Mamelukes.
A few years later, in 1814, Goya depicted the scene of this event on a canvas entitled "The Second of May, 1808 in Madrid, the uprising against the Mamelukes" (Prado Museum, Madrid). The composition of the picture is extremely intense, everything is mixed in it – people, animals, living, dead and wounded. The intense red-orange coloring of the canvas perfectly conveys the atmosphere of social disaster.
Napoleon’s troops brutally crushed the rebellion. On the same night, on the orders of the French monarch, an unprecedented in its cruelty massacre was carried out on the surviving rebels. Hundreds of Madrid were executed without trial, according to surviving evidence, many of them had no relation whatsoever to the uprising.
No real artist or poet could remain indifferent, being a direct witness to such events. Francisco de Goya also could not. Six years later, he created the painting “The Shooting of Rebels on May 3, 1808 in Madrid” (1814, Prado Museum, Madrid), which tells of a terrible tragedy. The picture shows us a scene that happened late at night in a wasteland outside the city. At a gentle slope of a hill, illuminated by the uneven light of a large lantern, French soldiers shoot the captured rebels. The painter presented the executioners as a faceless, strictly organized mass. The center of the work is a young peasant dressed in a white shirt. He spreads his arms wide, as if trying to protect his native land with his own body. The rest of the rebels, doomed to death, are represented in different ways. Someone obediently bowed his head,someone defiantly smiles directly into the executioners, others covered their hands with their hands, but none of them even tries to escape. The background in the picture is the silhouettes of the cathedral, towers, houses, barely distinguishable from the darkness of the night. The composition of the picture is so expressive that it seems that deafening shots will now break the reigning silence. The gloomy and severe landscape complements the atmosphere of imminent tragedy.
With this picture, the artist sought not only to convey the cruel events from the history of Spain in order to excite the viewer with them, he wanted to depict the moral superiority of the Spanish people over his executioners, to express the rebellion of the national spirit.
With the advent of 1812, the artist suffered a personal tragedy, the beloved wife of Joseph died. The artist was very upset by the death of a faithful companion of his life, because after her departure, he had only one son left, who was already 28 years old. It is amazing that Goya did not write anything about his wife and only once depicted her in the picture – “Portrait of Josefa Bayu de Goya”. Judging by this canvas, Josefa was a simple kind woman. The artist himself, in spite of his short stature and unprepossessing appearance, was known as a lover of women, maybe therefore the modest Josef did not participate in the social life of society.
Like any painter, Goya experienced all his joys and sorrows through creativity. After the death of his wife, he set about creating a series of etchings designed to illustrate the work of Nicolas Fernandez de Moratan, “Historical Notes on the Emergence and Development of Bullfighting in Spain”. Nowadays, this series is known as "Tavromahiya", in it the artist showed the fearlessness of a person entering into battle with a wild and ferocious animal.
Toward the end of the second decade of the 19th century, Francisco de Goya, sick, tired and disappointed in the policies of the Spanish authorities, decided to leave the bustling capital for privacy. He bought a large two-story house on the banks of the Manzanares River, surrounded by large cultivated land. The artist moved more than one to a new shelter, nicknamed the House of the Deaf neighbors, followed by his distant relative Leocadia Weiss, with his little daughter Rosarita. Little is known about the life of this woman. In Madrid, she was famous for her scandalous behavior, but the deaf artist was obviously not embarrassed.
At the end of 1819, Goya fell seriously ill again. Leocadia and Rosarita courted him, trying to brighten up his serious condition. Thanks to this care and the efforts of Dr. Eugenio Garcia Arrieta, the artist was able to recover and even returned to painting. His first picture, after suffering, was dedicated to his savior – "Self-portrait with Dr. Arrieta" (Institute of Arts, Minniapolis) was painted already in 1820. In the center of the composition, the master portrayed himself, leaning his back on the shoulder of a young doctor. Eugenio brings a glass of healing broth to the artist’s lips. In the background, in a darkened room, one can see someone’s silhouettes. The color of the double portrait is harmonious and calm. At the bottom of the canvas, the artist’s note: “Goya thanks her friend Arriet for the attention and care that saved his life during a dangerous illness,which he suffered at the end of 1819, at the age of 73 years. He wrote it in 1820. "
Having improved his health, Goya begins to work on a new series of prints called Los Proverbios (Proverbs), published by the San Fernando Academy in 1864, although it became known under a different name – “Disparates” (“Nonsense”). On 22 cardboards, Goya depicted all kinds of absurdities and absurdities – this was his author’s interpretation of national proverbs, which acquired a fantastic sound from the artist.
In the same 1820, Goya returned to monumental painting, deciding to paint the walls of his house. So, for example, on the walls of a large room on the ground floor, the painter depicted a beautiful young lady in full growth – “A Woman in a Black Shawl” (Prado Museum, Madrid). There is no exact information, but perhaps this is a portrait of Leocadia Weiss herself. The Spaniard stands in a natural pose, resting with one hand on a high stone fence, which occupies most of the composition. The light black veil covering the woman’s face gives the image a certain mystery.
This mural has become the most pacified of all the works of the cycle, in which the master decided to reveal the hidden essence of man. Art history has not yet seen works of this kind. Goya’s murals are dominated by a frightening, diabolical, unnatural principle, ominous images appear as if in a nightmare. Perhaps the artist saw them in a dream, faith is not entirely in a dream, but in delirium. Goya himself in some letters mentioned that during his illness he suffered terrible hallucinations, maybe it was they who found their way out in the artist’s Black Paintings.
One of the most striking is the fresco "Saturn devouring its children" (1820-1823, Prado Museum, Madrid). Dim lighting snatches from the darkness the thin body of a god who, in a frenzied madness, devours his own child, tearing his body apart.
The fresco “Pilgrimage to St. Isidore” (1820-1823, Mray Prado, Madrid) is very revealing, demonstrating how much the artist’s worldview has changed. This comparison is very vivid because in his youth Goya already created a work dedicated to this topic: “Festivities on the day of St. Isidore” (1788, Prado Museum, Madrid) depicts one of the most beloved holidays of the people of Madrid. It is an annual procession to the banks of the Manzanares River, where a big picnic with dances was arranged. An indispensable attribute of the holiday was drinking more water from a healing spring found, according to legend, by St. Isidore. On the canvas of 1788 it is a colorful and cheerful national holiday. But at a late work, on the wall of the “House of the Deaf”, an alarming feeling of imminent misfortune reigns. On a dark and gloomy fresco on a dry ground a crowd of people wanderclinging to each other. On their faces are terrible grimaces of pain, fear, horror, animal malice and malice.
In the same spirit, the work “Sabbath of the Witches” (1820-1823, Prado Museum, Madrid) was done, although it was painted in lighter colors, all the space on it was occupied by the same “ugly” crowd. In the center of the composition is a black goat in a monastic cassock. Those around with a greedy gleam of crazy eyes listen to the personification of Satan. Drawing this "demonic tribe", the artist emphasizes that people have lost their human appearance, so their faces are like the faces of animals.
All the frescoes of the “House of the Deaf” have a strange and controversial character, they excite and scare. Spots of white, yellow and pinkish-red color suddenly flash, snatching separate images from the darkness, then, on the contrary, envelop them. All fifteen scenes were done in dark colors, for this and the fact that the plots themselves are incredibly “dark”, the frescoes were nicknamed “Black Paintings”. They were on the walls of the house until the 1870s, until the new owner, Baron Emil Erlanger, a banker and a passionate collector, ordered to transfer all the plots to canvas. In 1878, he presented them at an exhibition in Paris, and three years later he donated all the works to the Madrid Prado Museum, founded by Ferdinand VII in 1819.
Relocation to France and the death of a master
The completion of the frescoes coincided with changes in the country. King Ferdinand VII in 1823 abolished the constitutional government, which Goya sympathized with. The artist, who was still a court painter, began to fear for his life and in the spring of 1824, he left for France.
He settled in Bordeaux, in a small cozy house, taking with him and Leona Leocadia with her daughter. By this time, the artist was already seventy-six years old. Goya worked a lot in France. He created portraits of his relatives and friends around him, mastered the technique of lithography. Around 1828, Goya created the work “Thrush from Bordeaux” (Prado Museum, Madrid) and a new series of etchings “Bulls of Bordeaux”.
Not long before his death, the painter traveled to Madrid, where he visited his son and grandson. The painter died on April 16, 1828, he was eighty-two years old. The ashes of Francisco de Goya were transported to Spain and buried in the Madrid Temple of San Antonio de la Florida, painted by the master many years ago.
All the work of the master had a huge impact on the formation and development of 19th century art. Just a few years after the death of the artist, his contribution to the artistic culture was evaluated at the pan-European level.
- A unique exhibition of engravings by Goya and Dali was opened at the Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts
- A new study put the witches of Goya in the correct order
- El presidente de la Academia de Artes de Rusia, ZK Tsereteli, fue honrado en una reunión del Presidium de la Academia de Artes de Rusia el 15 de enero de 2019.
- Illustrations for the "Divine Comedy" at the exhibition of little-known works by Auguste Rodin
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