Francisco de Goya

Biography of Francisco de Goya
Portrait of Francisco de Goya / Pintor: Vicente López Portaña / License: Public domain

Francisco de Goya Biography

Francisco de Goya y Lucientes, widely known only by Francisco de Goya, was born on March 30, 1746, in the town of Fuendetodos, in the province of Zaragoza, Spain, and died on April 16, 1828, in France. He is recognized as a magnificent painter, draftsman, and engraver. His paintings are credited with the importance of initiating the romantic style, and Goya is also credited with laying the foundations for contemporary painting and the pictorial vanguards of the 20th century.

He was born in Zaragoza as the second male with four children, his father José Benito de Goya and Franque, a man of Basque origin, who worked as an artisan expert in decorating objects giving them a golden color, while his mother, Grace of Lucientes and Salvador, prepared and cultivated the land. The year after his birth the family moved to Zaragoza. There, he would receive his schooling in Santo Tomás de Aquino School of the Pious Schools of Zaragoza. At that moment, the family was going through a family crisis in which he was forced to collaborate with his work to solve it.

By 1760, when he was only 13 years old, he entered the drawing school directed by the baroque painter José Luzán y Martínez, learning the basics of drawing by copying prints. He remained in that place for 4 years only playing the role of apprentice and copyist, leading him to the decision to establish himself and start doing works of his own imagination. Although there are no references to their own creations in the period that was under the tutelage of José Luzán, some training cadres are attributed or of which there is scarce data, among them Reliquary of Fuendetodos and Sagrada Familia with San Joaquín and Santa Ana before the Eternal in glory.

His process and artistic learning began very slowly, although he appeared in multiple painting contests and won none. In search of expanding his horizons and finding a new teacher, he traveled through Madrid, Rome, Venice, Bologna, and Italy, in the latter place he was taken as a disciple of the painter Francisco Bayeu. Regarding the things that happened to him in his journey, they are consigned in a diary called Italian Notebook, the first of many in this style that also has sketches and annotations of the artist.

In 1770, he appeared in the contest of Parma with his work Hannibal Victor sees for the first time Italy from the Alps, unfortunately, did not win the decoration, but demonstrated for the first time a risky style and contrary to his teachers, inspired by a classic model, but with a shade of pastel colors, pearly grays, pink and soft blue.

The following year Francisco de Goya returned to Spain for two reasons: an illness that afflicted his father and the opportunity to begin to become famous, when he was commissioned to paint the coral vault of the Chapel of the Basilica of Our Lady of Pilar de Zaragoza. From this work, the young Goya received multiple commissions from other religious institutions. On July 25, 1773, he married his teacher’s sister, Josefa Bayeu. The first of his seven children was born the following year.

Christ on the Cross / Francisco de Goya / License: Public Domain

At the end of 1775, commissioned by the court of Madrid, he worked as a cardboard designer, which would be the guide for producing tapestries in the Santa Bárbara factory. The best-known works of this time are the blind chicken, The sunshade, The Potter and The Wimp. For twelve years he worked in these tasks until an accident caused him irremediable deafness and he had to desist from continuing.

During the period in which he worked as a tapestry designer, he had access to the court’s art collections, which served him as new inspiration models, especially the works of Velásquez. In the year of 1780, he entered the Royal Academy of Fine Arts of San Fernando thanks to his painting Christ on the cross. Throughout these years, Goya was required to immortalize Madrid’s high society in portraits. By 1786, both he and Bayeu obtained the decoration of the King’s painters.

Due to his deafness, the artist had to adapt to this misfortune and continue his pictorial production, becoming by the communication problems of an increasingly introverted and isolated person. The vision of Goya would be touched by pessimism, leading him to capture in his art a deformed reality, manifesting the grotesque of it. In 1792, in a speech presented at the Academy, he expressed his concern about the future of art, urging the freedom of the artist, which should not be narrowed by a set of rules.

By 1794, Goya met the Duchess of Alba, which had been one of the most portrayed women by him, causing speculation of a possible love relationship between them. However, it would last little because in 1802 the Duchess died. In 1799, he published a series of 80 engravings, under the title Caprichos, which refer to both the queen and the Duchess. In 1808, when the War of Spanish independence broke out, the cruel acts of this were not out of sight of Goya, who traveled around different parts of Spain and embodying each event in multiple engravings. By 1812, his wife died, discouraging Goya about what would happen in the future.

Two years later with the possession of Ferdinand VII in power, he made two works of enormous proportions to show his patriotism: The burden of the Mamluks in the Puerta del Sol and the executions of the three of May. In 1815, he made portraits of the new king as well as a series of engravings with the theme of bullfighting. For the year 1826, Goya demanded his retirement and submitted to a self-exile in which he accompanied his friends who were forced to retire from their homeland.

Goya eventually would suffer health problems due to his advanced age, for such reasons some relatives traveled to visit him, including his grandson and daughter-in-law. The dawn of April 16, 1828 died, and his remains rested in the Cemetery of Chartreuse until 1899, where they were exhumed and moved provisionally in the crypt of the Collegiate of San Isidro located in Madrid. Finally, in 1919, it was designated that his remains rest permanently in San Antonio de la Florida, at the foot of a dome that the artist painted a century ago.


Fernando de Goya Signature

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