Welcome to the brand new Arthive! Discover a full list of new features here.


Spain • 1746−1828

Biography and information

Francisco José de Goya y Lucientes (30 March 1746, Fuendetodos, Aragon, Spain – 16 April 1828, Bordeaux, France) was a Spanish romantic artist and printmaker. He is considered the most important artist of late 18th and early 19th centuries and throughout his long career was a commentator and chronicler of his era.

A famed painter in his own lifetime story was born on March 30, 1746, in Fuendetodos, Spain. The son of a guilder, he spent some of his youth in Saragossa. There he began studying painting around the age of fourteen. At first, he learned by imitation: copied the works of great masters, finding inspiration in the works of such artists as Diego Velázquez and Rembrandt. Later, he moved to Madrid, where he went to work with brothers Francisco and Ramón Bayeu y Subías in their studio. He sought to further his art education in 1770 or 1771 by traveling to Italy. In Rome, Francisco Goya studied the classic works. In 1770s, he began to work for Spanish royal court. In addition to his commissioned portraits of the nobility, he created works that criticized the social and political problems of his era. Immensely successful in his lifetime, Francisco Goya is often referred to as both the last of the Old Masters and the first of the moderns. He was also one of the great portraitists of modern times.

Attributes of work of the artist. Over the course of his long career, Francisco Goya moved from jolly and lighthearted to deeply pessimistic and searching in his artworks (paintings, drawings, etchings and frescoes). Like Velazquez, he was a court painter whose best work was done apart from his official duties. The experience helped him to become a keen observer of human behavior and create his own art style. He was also influenced by neoclassicism, which was gaining favor over the rococo style.

For the bold technique of his complete works, the haunting satire of his etchings, and his belief that the artist's vision is more important than tradition, Francisco Goya is often called "the first of the moderns." His uncompromising portrayal of his times marks the beginning of 19th-century realism.

Famous paintings of the artist: «The Nude Maha» (1797 – 1800), «The king of Spain Charles IV and his family» (1801), «The Third of may 1808» (1814), «The Burial of the Sardine» (c. 1812–19), «Saturn devouring his children» (c. 1819 – 1823), «The milkmaid of Bordeaux» (1825-27). The complete works of Francisco Goya you could find on the official website. Illness and back to life Between the years of 1792 and 1793, Francisco Goya suffered from a mysterious illness, which made him deaf, and affected his mental behavior. Some current medical scientists believe that his deafness was a result of the lead which he used in his works, whereas others believe it may have been some sort of viral encephalitis. Either way, its effect on him cannot be understated. After his illness, he became withdrawn and introspective, and began painting a series of disturbing works on the walls of his house in Quinta del Sordo. His earlier themes of merry festivals and cartoons changed into depictions of war and corpses, representing a darkening of his mood.

Having survived an extended period of illness in Cádiz, Francisco Goya returned to Madrid in 1793. In 1799, he completed and published a suite of eighty allegorical artworks called «Los Caprichos» (The Whims); «Out Hunting for Teeth» and «The Sleep of Reason Produces Monster» are two etchings from this series. They introduce a world of witches, ghosts, and fantastic creatures that invade the mind, particularly during dreams, nightmarish visions symbolizing a world against reason. That same year, he was promoted by the crown to first court painter and spent the next two years working on a large-scale portrait of the family of Charles IV (collection of Museo del Prado, Madrid). Harking back to the compositions of Velázquez, Francisco Goya placed the royal family in the foreground and, in the background, himself at an easel. The painting is simultaneously a depiction of a united, strong, and regal monarchy, and a shockingly naturalistic—in some cases even grotesque—group portrait. Final Years During the later years of his life according to biography facts, Francisco Goya became increasingly introvert, spending all his time in his villa. It was here, from 1819 to 1823, Goya painted series of dark paintings «The Black Paintings», as frescoes directly onto the inside walls of the house. One of the most famous of this series is 'Saturn Devouring his Son' (El Saturno).

With Ferdinand VII now in power, Goya kept his position in the Spanish court despite having worked for Joseph Bonaparte. The story said, Ferdinand once told Goya: "You deserve to be garroted, but you are a great artist so we forgive you." But he was dissatisfacted with the Ferdinand's rule and expressed it in a famous complete work - series of etchings called "Los disparates." With his grotesque imagery, Goya seemed to illustrate the absurdity of the times.

The political climate subsequently became so tense that Goya willingly went into exile in 1824. Despite his poor health, Francisco Goya moved to Bordeaux, France, where he spent the remainder of his life. During this time, he continued to paint. Some of his later works included portraits of friends also living in exile. The artist died on April 16, 1828, in Bordeaux, France at the age of 82 years.