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1746 - 1828

FRANCISCO GOYA Y LUCIENTES (1746-1828), Spanish painter, was born in 1746 at Fuendetodos, a small Aragonese village near Saragossa. At an early age he commenced his artistic career under the direction of Jose Luzan Martinez, who had studied painting at Naples under Mastroleo. It is clear that the accuracy in drawing Luzan is said to have acquired by diligent stud y of the best Italian masters did not much influence his erratic pupil. Goya, a true son of his province, was bold, capricious, headstrong and obstinate. He took a prominent part on more than one occasion in those rival religious processions at Saragossa which often ended in unseemly frays; and his friends were led in consequence to despatch him in his nineteenth year to Madrid, where, prior to his departure for Rome, his mode of life appears to have been anything but that of a quiet orderly citizen. Being a good musician, and gifted with a voice, he sallied forth nightly, serenading the caged beauties of the capital, with whom he seems to have been a very general favourite.

Francisco Goya. The Third of May 1808: The Execution of the Defenders of Madrid. 1814. Oil on canvas. 345 x 266 cm. Madrid: Museo del Prado.

Lacking the necessary royal patronage, and probably scandalizing by his mode of life the sedate court officials, he did not receive - perhaps did not seek - the usual honorarium accorded to those students who visited Rome for the purpose of study. Finding in convenient to retire for a time from Madrid, he decided to visit Rome at his own cost; and being without resources he joined a " quadrilla " of bull-fighters, passing from town to town until he reached the shores of the Mediterranean. We next hear of him reaching Rome, broken in health and financially bankrupt. In 1772 he was awarded the second prize in a competition initiated by the academy of Parma, styling himself " pupil to Bayeu, painter to the king of Spain." Compelled to quit Rome somewhat suddenly, he appears again in Madrid in 1775, the husband of Bayeu's daughter, and father of a son. About this time he appears to have visited his parents at Fuendetodos, no doubt noting much which later on he utilized in his genre works. On returning to Madrid he commenced painting canvases for the tapestry factory of Santa Barbara, in which the king took much interest. Between 1776 and 1780 he appears to have supplied thirty examples, receiving about £1200 for them. Soon after the revolution of 1868, an official was appointed to take an inventory of all works of art belonging to the nation, and in one of the cellars of the Madrid palace were discovered forty-three of these works of Goya on rolls forgotten and neglected (see Los Tapices de Goya; por Cruzado Villaamil, Madrid, 1870). His originality and talent were soon recognized by Mengs, the king's painter, and royal favour naturally followed. His career now becomes intimately connected with the court life of his time. He was commissioned by the king to design a series of frescoes for the church of St Anthony of Florida, Madrid, and he also produced works for Saragossa, Valencia and Toledo. Ecclesiastical art was not his forte, and although he cannot be said to have failed in any of his work, his fame was not enhanced by his religious subjects.

francisco goya
Charles IV of Spain and his family.

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