Galeria de Arte transparencias Ancora A Todo Color
For a timeline biography of Goya, go here.
Jose de Goya de Lucientes was born
in Fuendetodos, in the province of Saragossa on
the 30th of March in 1746. His parents were Joseph
Goya and Gracia Lucientes. It is difficult, in
the life of this painter to discern what is truth
and what is legend, because fantasy and reality
are mixed in this life as in no other.
His childhood was spent in Fuendetodos where his
parents and brothers and sisters lived in the
family house, which bore the family crest of his
mother, and which was surrounded by the dry lands,
treeless and waterless where his father practiced
his trade of gilder.
About 1749 the family bought a house in the City
of Saragossa and some years later finally went
to live in it. Then Goya attended the Escuelas
Pias, a School where he formed a close friendship
with Martin Zapater, whom he was never to forget
and whose correspondence with him has become valuable
documentary evidence. He then entered the studio
of Jose Lujan, Academic painter, from whom he
learnt the elementary steps of painting. We do
not know how this period of his life gave birth
to the Goyesque legend which supposes him to have
fought bulls at the local bull fighting festivals;
to have strummed the guitar gaily; and to have
loved so violently and so often, that one of these
affairs forced him to leave Saragossa and move
Once arrived in the capital he studied with Mengs
who was a popular painter of the Royal Court but
once again he clashed with an academic painter
and his final examinations were by no means
Suddenly he appeared in Rome (Italy), the legend
grew: romances; strange adventures; desertions...
But where did he get the money for his travels?
It has been said that he earned it as a toreador,
but it might just as well have been a generous
gift from one of those families which had already
then taken him under their wing: the Pignatelli
family; the Goicoechea family; the Bayeu family...
Francisco Bayeu in whose studio Goya had learned
the charm of construction and the art of colour,
shortly after (1774) became Goya’s brother-in-law,
for Goya married Josefa his teacher’s sister,
or Pepa as Goya called her affectionately.
However, and going back a little, during his travels
in Italy Goya was awarded the second prize in
a painting competition organized by the City of
Parma in January 1771. In that same year in autumn
he returned to Saragossa where he painted a part
of the cupola of the Basilica of the Pillar, frescoes
of the oratory of the cloisters of Aula Dei, and
the frescoes of the Sobradiel Palace. He continued
to be the pupil of Bayeu but his painting was
already beginning to show signs of the delicate
tonalities which with time were to make him famous.
His marriage to Pepa gave him an introduction
to the Royal Tapestry Workshop where in five years
he designed about forty-two patterns for tapestry
and settled down in the Court and discovered this
prodigious world of noble and characteristic Spain.
He painted a canvas for the altar of the Church
of San Francisco El Grande and was appointed a
member of the Academy of San Fernando.
In 1783 he succeeded in taking the first positive
step in his courtly career: The Count of Floridablanca,
favourite of King Carlos III, comissioned him
to paint his portrait, and he also became an intimate
with the Crown Prince Don Luis, and went to live
in his house. A little later he also became friendly
with the Duke and Duchess of Osuna, whom he painted,
as he did finally also the King and all the most
notable personages of the kingdom.
However the death of Carlos III in 1788 and the
Revolution in neigbouring France in 1789 made
him more of a Francophile and in the reign of
Carlos IV Goya entered at last into his fullest
His painting has undeniable influences of Velazquez,
according to Yradier, his first biographer, a
noticeable thing in his large fullsome portraits,
because also in Goya one finds atmosphere, light,
life, power and delicacy of tone. Nevertheless
Velazquez is nobler and has greater epic qualities,
Goya is plainer. It is true that the epic quality
had disapeared from the Court, for now no Phillip
IV reigned but Carlos IV, there was now no Marianne
of Austria but Maria Luisa of Parma, in place
of the Duke of Olivares was Manuel Godoy.
In Goya’s works one sees a sincere realism which
forgives nothing, and forgets nothing of the subject.
He tyranised his subjects, forcing them to remain
motionless for hours without even moving a muscle,
tyranically portraying them on the canvas with
the whole of their human reality; a mixture of
fleshless satire and boldness, many times even
entering into caricature. Among his portraits
those of King Carlos IV and Queen Maria Luisa
stand out, but we must not forget those of Duque
Fernan Nunez, the Duchess of Alba, etc., with
whom he is supposed to have had a passionate affair
the details of which even now are not clear, and
which might well belong once more to the realm
In 1792 Goya, after an illness, was left absolutely
deaf from then on his interior world had to feed
itself on light and shadow and emotions, and began
to populate itself with feelings, longings, and
ghosts. His character became more withdrawn and
introspective and his entire vitality was directed
In 1799 he was appointed the Royal Painter with
a salary of 50,000 reales and 500 ducats for a
coach. He worked, by Royal Order, on the cupola
of the Hermitage of San Antonio de la Florida;
he painted the King and the Queen, Royal family
pictures, portraits of Princess de la Paz and
many other nobles. Prosperity had arrived, money
in abundance, silver plate, canvases by Velazquez,
Correggio, and Tintoretto, all were his. Nevertheless
his time was unquiet and his unsettled nerves
added to his deafness, made him restless. His
character became embittered which is shown in Los Caprichos, a collection of prints finished
about 1803 in which he censured society, the morality
of the customs, and the falsities of human life.
This work is hard, full of pain and populated
with freaks; those freaks and monsters which began
to show their presence in the paintings he made
of San Francisco de Borja, in the Cathedral of
Valoncia (1788) which culminated in the walls
in the House of the Deaf.
Later the Peninsular war impinged on his conciousness.
The new Court of Jose I received him as had its
predecessors and he accepted it in his turn, always
unconcerned with politics and their consequences.
When his wife Pepas died in 1812 Goya was painting
his most famous canvases: The Charge of the
Mamelukes and The Executions of the 3 May in La Moncloa, as well as the series of The
Disasters of the Wars.
Eventually Ferdinand VII came back to Spain but
his relations with Goya were not of the most cordial.
It was then 1814, at that time the artist was
living with his cousin and her daughter, Rosario
Weiss, whom he loved madly. He continued to work
incessantly: portraits, pictures of Santa Justa
and Santa Rufina, lithographs, pictures of tauromachy,
But with the idea of isolating himself from everything
he bought a house on the outskirts of Manzanares,
which became known as the House of the Deaf.
There, more enclosed within himself than ever he
produced the famous Black Pictures, a series
showing all his genius in fantasmagorical, dark
and terrible visions, a low class madrilenan woman,
two friars, Saturn Devouring his sons, The Witches’
Sabbath, The Reading, The Fates, Two men Fighting
with Cudgels, etc....
Always unsettled and discontented he left Spain
in May 1824.
He visited first Bordeaux and then Paris and finally
took up residence in the former, probably due
to the number of ex-patriate Spaniards who lived
there. His relations with Dona Leocadia, the cousin
who has already been mentioned, seem not to have
been very friendly. Goya suffered, not knowing
what he was waiting for, nor even what he wanted.
Was he perhaps a man who like so many others had
lost faith and was in, what we now call a trifle
cynically, a crisis of existensialism?
After suffering from another period of ill health
he decided to return to Spain, where he arrived
in May 1826. He was met by his son Francisco Javier
who went with him everywhere, but in spite of
this welcome which he received some quirk made
him decide to return to Bordeaux. Who knows what
went on in this strange, twisted, mentality of
this great genius?
Thus he went on, alone, locked in the closed room
of his deafness, always waiting for something
which never seemed to arrive. One day he received
a letter from Francisco Javier announcing a visit.
Emotional as he was, the pleasure he received
caused to become over excited which perhaps was
the cause of the illness which immediately struck
down. On April 16 died Francisco Jose de Goya
y Lucientes, Genius and Artist.
Copyright 1961 Ediciones Minos
More articles about Goya's life and times are on the bio page
This English text is apparently a translation
from either French or Spanish. The word usage
is a bit unusual and the spelling esoteric in
places, but it is faithful to the 1961 edition
of the book it is from.]