Francisco José de Goya y Lucientes, born in 1746 in the town Fuendetodos of Zaragoza, Spain, is considered one of the most important artists of the 18th and early 19th century. He was a Spanish romantic painter and printmaker and was very successful during his life for his portraiture. He has created a massive influence on the modern world, his creativity inspiring art, music and even films.
His interest in art was sparked at the age of 14 when he studied painting under José Luzán y Martinez, from which he then moved on to study with Anton Raphael Mengs in Madrid. From this, he began his career as a commissioned painter. He became a court painter to the Spanish Crown in 1786 and created modern portraiture of Spanish aristocracy and Royalty.
Very little is known about Goya’s thoughts as he was very guarded and kept to himself. Letters and other forms of evidence survived but little can be inferred about his feelings. However, Goya displayed his emotions in his personal art, particularly nearer to the end of his life. In 1793, Goya suffered from a severe illness that remains undiagnosed to this day, which left him deaf and disillusioned. After this, Goya’s paintings became increasingly disturbing – depicting mental asylums, mythical creatures, insanity and the corruption of politics and religion. This gives us a valuable insight into Goya’s perspective of the world and suggests that he feared for his own physical and mental health and the fate of Spain.
He is very famous for a series called the ‘Black Paintings’ created between 1819 and 1823. These are a series of murals done with oils on the walls of his home, suggesting that they were very personal and not meant for other people to see, as he spent the end of his life in near isolation. They illustrate grotesque and often violent scenes – one named ”
A stroke left the right side of Goya’s body paralysed, and as his eyesight began to fail, Goya died in 1828 at age 82 following his retirement in Bordeaux, France. He lived a long and successful life, but his true viewpoint will forever remain a mystery.