Life of Goya With the coronation of the two Catholic rulers, Ferdinand and Isabella in 1479, the country of Spain slowly began to unite. Piece by piece, the King and Queen recaptured once lost lands and built their empire. In 1516 Carlos V rose to power, establishing the Hapsburg reign. The Hapsburg ruled for nearly two hundred years until the death of Charles II. With him died a Golden Age for Spain that the Catholic rulers established. Spain fell into a time of mass poverty, disorganization, and lackadaisical rule. One force that was structured in Spain was the church.
Catholicism was not only a religion in Spain but also a significant influence in society. At the time, however, it did little to improve the conditions. Classes were heavily lopsided. The middle class was almost non-existent, and the upper class monopolized agricultural land. The provinces of Aragon, La Mancha, and Castile were where most of the poverty and depression was concentrated. Costal cities like Cadiz and Madrid were where prosperity existed.
In the midst of commencing political and aristocratic turmoil, was born one of the most talented and patriotically concerned artists Spain has ever seen. On March 30, 1745 in the rural town of Fuendetodos, Francisco Jose de Goya y Lucientes was born. He was born poor and at the fall of the Hapsburg Monarchy. Goyas father was the son of a notary, or a small time lawyer, and his mother Dona Gracia Lucientes, was a hidalgo. Hidalgos were the lowest order in Spanish nobility.
Goya Pg2 was still a boy when he and his family moved to the city of Saragossa. Saragossa contained more life than the rural city of Fuendetodos. Here he began school, where he barely learned to read and write. After attending elementary school, Francisco went to a Jesuit school or “college”. It was here where the foundation of his career was laid.
It was recommended that he develop his natural skills in drawing. A local master painter, named Jose Luzan y Martinez, took Goya under his wing. Martinez was a typical third rank painter of that time, but was well respected in the city. Goya began learning to paint the human figure by copying sculptures and molds. The drawing of naked models was forbidden at that time.
By this point Goya showed himself as a fine copyist, and able to adapt quickly to other peoples styles. Goyas first commission was the painting of the church doors at Fuendentodos. This project confirmed his profession. When he saw the painting some 50 years later he exclaimed, ” Dont say I painted those!” At age 17 Goya went to test himself in a larger and more demanding area, Madrid. Another individual who had a profound impact on Goyas life and art was Velazquez. Velazquez was a painter of Spains pride and power a superb realist.
Although Velazquez had an influence on Goyas artistic style, his art is distinctly different from that of his predecessor. Velazquezs paintings depicted absolute and precise figures. Most of Goyas work, other than portraits, was noticeably distorted. These were times of confusion and despair, which would serve as artistic topics for Goyas work. The other half of his work is strictly his reaction and response to Pg3 surrounding occurrences. Perhaps nobody depicted mortals thoughts and actions better than Goya.
He combined his personal thoughts and the thoughts of the character in the painting so they either contrasted or became one. Goya used this devise of altering human characteristics as a way to undermine politicians and aristocrats without confrontation. A prime example of this is in the portrait of the family of Charles the IV. Charles IV was a Bourbon King who was later deposed by Napoleon. This portrait is at the pivotal point of Goyas career.
The public Goya and the private Goya, usually rigidly separated were briefly allowed to merge. As Goya was at the center of the social scene by this point, he was very aware of the history, people and events of his time. He depicts the characters and family members as he sees them, weak, sheltered, and cocky. The clothing and costumes on the people describe their rank in society, however their faces portray a lack of power and character. As he did in life, the King stands to one side and his face is that of an uncertain oaf.
Queen Maria Luisa stands in the middle of the painting with a double chin and her expression is crude, almost vulgar. Her arms were something that she was proud of in life. She was proud of their thickness and strength but Goya paints them to look almost gross. The daughter is depicted as pleasant (Goya idolized childrens innocence), and uncorrupted, although her dress is similar to her mothers. This illustrates the brainwashing of youthful nobility, and their lack of independence.
Other relatives are positioned behind the King which is perhaps in Pg4 mitation of Velazquez invention in the masterpiece Las Meninas. These depictions went unnoticed, and while Goya never painted for the King and Queen again, it was not because they were dissatisfied. He got away with it and went on to fulfill other artistic desires. What is extraordinary about this portrait is that it borders a thin line between levels of understanding. Goya found a median at which he could satisfy someones expectations while fulfilling his own artistic thoughts. At first glance or even scrupulous examination, someone who is ignorant of the techniques being used sees only a picture of a royal portrait.
Somewhat of a different style and theme is showed in The Shooting on Principe Pio Mountain. A more free brush technique is used here and the faces and figures in the picture are more abstract, less detailed. The shooters are anonymous and they doggedly obey orders by killing the suspects lined up in front of them. In the center of the painting is a Spanish commoner who has his arms raised and his face is that of despair, horror, and hopelessness. This event (one of many that were similar) was a significant moment in Spanish history.
French firing squads patrolled through Spain as guerrillas (little wars) broke out over the land. Goya painted the picture six years later, and had mixed feelings about it. His love for Spain is shown in all of his work, however he was an admirer of the French Enlightenment. This painting shows a difference and gradual change in Goyas style. The brush strokes are much more scratchy and not as delicate as Pg5 previous works.
It was possibly painted with more passion and thus the reason for the more symbolic tone and not realistic. Goya could be considered one of the most talented artists of his time and without question he is. However what is to be merited is influence and understanding of Spain and her people. A true artist, or painter in this case, can put thoughts onto canvas forcing the observer to look beyond the jewels and ranks of royalty. They can tell a characters life story or thoughts with miniscule variations in facial and body language. Goya did these things to perfection and should be regarded as one of the great minds of Spanish culture.