1746 Francisco de Goya y Lucientes born on 30 March at Fuendetodos,
1749 Birth of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe.
1750 Death of Johann Sebastian Bach.
1751 First volume of Diderot and d'Alembert's
1756-1763 The Seven Years War between Prussia and Austria.
1759 Charles III becomes King of Spain.
1760 Goya's apprenticeship with the painter Jose Luzan in Saragossa
1762 Catherine II (the Great) ascends the Russian throne.
1763 Travels to Madrid; unsuccessful in the Academy competition.
1764 The Spinning Jenny is invented in England.
1766 Popular uprising in Madrid (the Esquilache Uprising).
1770 Travels to Italy.
1771 The first Encyclopaedia Britannica is published.
1771 Achieves an "honorable mention" in the competition at the Parma
Academy, then returns to Spain. First important commission for a
fresco in the Church of Nuestra Senora del Pilar in Saragossa.
1773 Marriage to Josefa Bayeu.
1773 Dissolution of the Jesuits by Pope Clement XIV.
1774 Fresco in the chapel of the Aula Dei Monastery.
Francisco de Goya
Oil on canvas, 58 x 44 cm
When, at 13, Goya began to learn the craft of painting, no one
could have foreseen that he would one day become one of the greatest
painters of Spanish - and European - art. Even when he traveled to
Italy in his mid-twenties and later earned a modest living as a
church painter in Saragossa, there was no hint of the extraordinary
career that awaited him. Little is known about Goya's youth or the
roots of his work as an artist. If his later comments are to be
believed, in his youth he was a tough good-for-nothing who was not
afraid to test his courage in the bullring. He pursued his career as
a painter proudly and self-confidently, even though the Royal
Academy in Madrid refused to acknowledge his work. He made a name
for himself in the provinces, made contacts among influential
people, and disciplined himself to complete his commissions - some
of them large ones - to the satisfaction of his patrons. He also
painted portraits and made a number of etchings.
The house in Fuendetodos
where Goya was born
A memorial plate on the simple, rough stone house records the birth
of Goya, on March 30,1746.The house belonged to the family of Goya's
mother and is a testament to the unprepossessing circumstances in
which Goya and his five brothers and sisters grew up.
Portrait of Feliciana Bayeu
In this portrait Goya's teacher, Francisco Bayeu, portrayed his own
daughter Feliciana. Painted in soft tones, with light brush
strokes, this sensitive portrait was long thought to be by Goya.
Youth and Apprenticeship
On March 30, 1746, Francisco Jose de Goya y Lucientes came into the
world in the village of Fuendetodos, in the province of Aragon. This
was the native province of his mother's family: Gracia Lucientes
came from the lower ranks of the landed gentry. During the 18th
century, one Spaniard in seven belonged to the broad layer of the
populace classed as "aristocracy." These were the hidalgos, a word
derived from the expression hijo de algo, which translates literally
as "somebody's son." Among the aristocratic attitudes inherited by
the hidalgos were their pride, their keen sense of honor, and
disdain for any form of physical work, though they were frequently
completely without means. Goya's family, too, appears to have lived
in fairly impoverished circumstances. When his father, Jose Goya,
died, he left no will, apparently because he had nothing of value to
The family lived in Fuendetodos only briefly, soon moving back to
the provincial capital, Saragossa, where Goya's father had been a
member of the highly respected Goldsmith's Guild. Here, Goya
attended the classes of the pious Pater Joaquin at the Escuelas Pias,
a church institution. He befriended a classmate, Martin Zapater, who
was to remain his closest friend throughout his life. At 13 he began
his apprenticeship to the painter Jose Luzan (1710-1785). Luzan, a
church painter who was much in demand, had traveled to Italy in his
youth and, while in Naples, had adopted the contemporary style of
the Italian Late Baroque. He handed on this traditional concept of
art to his pupils by having them patiently copy engravings of the
works of great masters. Naturally they also learned the craft of
painting, grinding colors, and preparing canvases, but there was no
question of developing individual artistic expression. The aim was
to copy acknowledged models faithfully. During his four-year
apprenticeship with Luzan, Goya also got to know his contemporary
and competitor, Ramon Bayeu, and the latter's brother, Francisco,
whom he later described as his teacher. There is, in fact, little
doubt that Francisco Bayeu (1734-1795), who was soon to begin a
dazzling career, was at that time Goya's principal model. In 1762,
Bayeu was called to Madrid to work with Anton Raphael Mengs, a
German painter working in Spain, decorating the royal palace. A few
years later, Bayeu rose to become court painter and created several
extensive cycles of frescoes.
By comparison, Goya initially failed to achieve recognition from the
artistic circles in Madrid. In 1763 and 1766 he traveled to the
capital to take part in the three-yearly competition at the Academy,
but did not receive a single vote. In 1773, however, he married the
26-year-old Josefa, the sister of the Bayeus, and this close
relationship with the influential Bayeu family would prove to be
highly advantageous to his career.
Panoramic view of the village of Fuendetodos
Fuendetodos lies on a barren plain not far from Saragossa. The
village had only 100 inhabitants when Goya was born here.
Capriccio with the Coliseum
ca.1743 Oil on canvas 95x89 cm
Parma, Galleria Nazionale
In the 18th and 19th centuries, the ruins of classical Rome were a
great inspiration to artists, who traveled to Rome from all over
Europe to study the antiquities.
Goya twice participated unsuccessfully in the competition held every
three years by the Madrid Academy of Art, the first prize for which
was a bursary in Rome.
A career as an artist was unthinkable without academic recognition,
and a study trip to Italy was every artist's dream. Only in Italy,
above all in Rome, could one study the masterpieces of antiquity,
the paintings of both
, the art of the
Italian Baroque. Goya decided to travel to Italy at his own expense.
Very few paintings by him are extant from the period prior to his
journey. Among these are two small paintings in which he recorded
political events of the time in a rapid, sketch-like style: the Esquilache uprising in Madrid and the expulsion of the Jesuits.
During his trip to Italy, Goya stayed in Rome for approximately a
year and managed to earn a living by painting. He made contact with
other artists and took the opportunity to study the technique of
fresco painting. In this type of painting on walls, color is applied
to fresh plaster just before it dries, a technique that requires
confidence and a very sure hand. The Baroque ceiling paintings in
the churches of Rome are among the finest examples of this
Francisco de Goya
The Dream of St. Joseph
Oil on plaster, transferred to canvas 130x95 cm
Saragossa, Museo de Bellas Artes
It was probably soon after his journey to Rome that Goya completed
his first major commissions cycle of religious frescoes in the
chapel of the Sobradiel Palace in Saragossa. In The Dream of St.
Joseph, the angel calls on St. Joseph not to abandon his pregnant
wife, the Virgin Mary. The diagonal composition of the painting was
adopted by Goya from an engraving of a painting by the French
painter Simon Vouet. Goya had learnt this common practice of copying
existing works during his apprenticeship, from his teacher Luzan. The
paintings were later removed from the wall and transferred to
In Italy, Goya was also finally able to win a measure of academic
recognition. In 1771 he entered the competition at the renowned
Parma Academy with a painting on the theme of Hannibal Contemplating
Italy for the First Time, From the Alps, a typical academic theme
for history paintings of the time. The jury praised Goya's light
brush strokes and the expressive representation of the figures - but
did not award him first prize.
Towards the end of 1771 he returned to Spain. After a period of time
spent in Italy, the then 25-year-old painter would be able to count
on a number of important commissions, at least among influentual
patrons in the provinces.
Francisco de Goya
Italy for the First Time, From the Alps
Rococo and Classicism in Spain
Beauty is a most difficult art, and till now, no artist
who could lay claim to having perfect taste
in all things.
Anton Raphael Mengs
New trends in art
When Goya began his career as a painter art was not thriving in
Spain. Mediocrity and academic routine had prevailed since the
Golden Age of Spanish painting, the century of Velazquez, Murillo,
and El Greco. To instill fresh impetus into Spanish art, King
Charles III called two of Europe's leading art figures to his
Anton Raphael Mengs
Giovanni Battista Tiepolo. Mengs
arrived from Rome on October 7,1761; and a few months later the
Venetian Tiepolo responded to the Spanish king's invitation to
decorate the rooms in his new palace in Madrid. While Tiepolo, the
aging Venetian master, embodied the declining age of Rococo
painting, the 33-year-old Mengs was the leading representative of
early Classicism. Conceptually and stylistically, the two artists
could not have been more different. The highly cultivated Mengs
quickly assumed a prominent role in artistic circles in Madrid, and
his opinion determined the tastes of the day. He not only accepted
artistic commissions, he also reformed the Academy of Art, became
director of the Royal Tapestry Manufactory, and promoted young
talent. He probably became aware of Goya through Bayeu, who was
working under Mengs on the decoration of the royal palace in Madrid.
In 1774 Mengs called Goya to the capital as a designer for the Royal
Tapestry Manufactory. This was the first important step in Goya's
Mengs and Neoclassicism
Born in Bohemia,
Mengs (1728-1779) began his brilliant career in
Italy. Celebrated as one of the finest artists of his period, he
spent the greater part of his life in Rome. Here he got to know Johann
Joachim Winckelmann, the German art historian who had revived an
interest in classical Greece, and worked to achieve a renewal in
painting modeled on both antiquity and the Italian Renaissance. In
addition to classical sculpture and frescoes, many artists based
their work on 16th-century Italian painting, particularly the works
Titian. With their even brush strokes and clear,
balanced composition, Meng's detached, well-planned paintings were a
conscious rejection of the highly decorative and often overblown art
of the Baroque. He also developed a reputation as a portrait
painter, his smooth, elegant likenesses satisfying the tastes and
aspirations of the courtiers who commissioned them. His Portrait of
Charles III, which shows the king in the classical pose
of the sovereign, in armor enlivened by a red sash, was copied several
times as the definitive portrait of the king. Even Goya used the
same bearing and profile when he was later commissioned to paint the
king in hunting dress. In 1777, his health failing, Mengs returned
Anton Raphael Mengs
Portrait of Charles III
Tiepolo and the Rococo
Compared with the dynamic and versatile Mengs,
Giovanni Battista Tiepolo (1696-1770) was not able to make his mark at the Spanish
court. Hedid indeed decorate the most important rooms in the Madrid
royal palace with his ceiling paintings, but apart from this major
commission his art had little appeal in Spain. Tiepolo had won his
fame as a leading international Rococo fresco painter through his
painting schemes in the palaces and churches of Venice and in the
Residenz (bishop's palace) in Wurzburg. With his son Giovanni
Domenico, he created his last great masterpiece in Madrid's Palacio
Real. The large-scale ceiling paintings in the throne room and the
audience room, allegories exalting the Spanish monarch, carry the
observer into a completely ethereal world (right). His frescoes
provide a glimpse of the infinity of the heavens, a world flooded
with clear light and filled with groups of figures floating on white
clouds. The alternating areas of light and shade enhance the effect
of depth in the painting, and bright, luminous colors lend a
radiant, festive atmosphere to his vast, masterly designs.
Giovanni Battisa Tiepolo
The Apotheosis of the Spanish Monarchy
Goya and the art of his time
Mengs and Tiepolo encompass the range of artistic expression prevalent
in the late 18th century. Goya undoubtedly studied both with
interest, though there is hardly any direct evidence of Neoclassical
or Rococo influence in his work: he distanced himself from the
prevalent stylistic trends at an early stage in his career. His
later works, with their energetic, free-flowing brushwork, have a
specifically anti-classical effect. Towards the end of his life, he
created a cycle of somber frescoes that contrast profoundly with
Tiepolo's luminous visions.
Church Painter in Saragossa
Nuestra Senora del Pilar, Saragossa
According to legend, the Virgin appeared to St. James in Saragossa and
gave him a pillar (Spanish pilar) for this pilgrimage church, which
had been dedicated to her. From 1771 the church, dominated by its
eleven domes, was decorated with new frescoes. The decoration took
ten years to complete, and involved several of the most highly
regarded painters in Spain.
Francisco de Goya
Head of Angel
1772 Crayon 41.5x34 cm
The drawing is a study for one of the two angels standing on the
left of the fresco opposite. For this drawing Goya copied an
engraving of an original drawing by Raphael.
In the autumn of 1771, immediately on his return from his travels in
Italy, Goya applied for his first important commission, painting one
of the vaults in the cathedral of Nuestra Sefiora del Pilar in
Saragossa. The committee of works requested him first to complete a
study that was to be approved by the Madrid Royal Academy. But
Goya's design was so powerful that they decided to do without the
approval of the Academy. With a helper to grind the colors, he went
straight to work on the fresco. He was now able to show that he had
not wasted his time in Italy. The fresco's well-balanced
composition, the impression of depth and space, and the warm,
glowing colors are strongly reminiscent of Late Baroque ceiling
paintings in Italy. There is hardly any sign of individual style,
though the slightly sketchy technique is noticeable. Some degree of
uncertainty in the representation of figures is also apparent.
Quickly earning a sound reputation as a painter of religious
frescoes, Goya completed various commissions in the churches of
Saragossa and the surrounding areas. During the 18th century, the
Church was the most important source of commissions for paintings
after the court, since it had enormous wealth at its disposal. Its
power, prestige, and influence were almost limitless; whether beggar
or king, anyone who met a priest carrying the consecrated host had
to kneel in veneration.
Goya could now live very well from his income; at the age of 27 he
was earning almost as much as his teacher Luzan. In 1774 he painted
his most extensive cycle of murals in the isolated Carthusian
monastery of Aula Dei. They were painted in oil applied directly to
the walls, and cover a total area of almost 240 square meters (about
2,580 square feet). Largely forgotten for many years, this cycle on
the life of the Virgin Mary is nevertheless among the most
interesting of Goya's early works, in spite of its poor condition.
Mengs was so taken with the compositions that he had copies of them
Francisco de Goya
Adoration of the Name of God
1772 Fresco ca.7x 15 m
Saragossa, Nuestra Senora del Pilar
Angels are massed on banks of clouds that form a triangular space of
celestial sky in which hovers the name of God written in Hebrew. In
Baroque composition the impression of depth is created by the way in
which the figures grow smaller the further away they are. In the
distance, the angels almost seem to dissolve in the light. The broad
brush strokes used here will also characterize Goya's later work.
Francisco de Goya
Circumcision of Christ
Oil on plaster
31 Ox 520 cm
Saragossa, Cartuja de
Goya developed a completely new style for the frescoes in the church
of the Carthusian Aula Dei monastery.In a background of landscape
and architectural features, cloaked figures in ample robes are
caught in a stately rhythmic movement. Broad areas of light and
shade pick out the figures. Of the original eleven
paintings.sevenare still extant.