Count Floridablanca
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Count Floridablana
El Conde de la Floridablanca

1783 Oil on canvas
262 x 166 cm
Banco de Espana, Madrid


This painting is considered Goya's first important portrait commission, and it's success is credited with beginning Goya's ascent to become the leading painter of Madrid. The setting of the image visually describes the subject, with objects of rank and responsibility placed around the dark interior. The time on the clock indicates, along with the heavy shadows, that both Goya and the Count kept late working hours.

Commented upon by art historians is the action of Goya within the painting. He is presenting a painting to the Count, who seems to be peering into a mirror and checking the likeness and accuracy of the image. On the floor lays a book which indicates the Count's involvement with the work of making this painting:

The whole portrait adds up to a painted celebration of avante-garde taste, modernity and social reform. A book by Antonio Palomino about the techniques of painting lies on the floor with a marker in it, suggesting that the minister, as an educated man of fashion, not only possesses such a book but is actually in the process of reading it. A blueprint for the completion of the Imperial Canal in Aragon is propped against the table, a detail which the Aragonese Goya must have been especially concerned to place in a prominent position. Floridablanca regarded his support for this new feat of engineering as a memorable achievement of his ministry.

From pages 97-99 of Sarah Symmons book Goya
Published by Phaidon 1998

The use of mirrors became a Goya theme of itself, and this painting of Count Floridablanca is similar to his Family of Carlos IV in that the viewer of the painting is in the place of a reflecting mirror. To read about Goya and his use of mirrors within his artworks, go to Goya and Mirrors.


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