The 18th and 19th Centuries


(Neoclassicism, Romanticism and Art Styles in 19th century - Art Map)


Neoclassicism and Romanticism





Francisco de Goya

("Life and Work" E. L. Buchholz)




Francisco de Goya y Lucientes 1746-1828) was the son of a poor goldsmith in Saragossa. In 1763: he moved to Madrid and, after a period of travel, he returned in 1776 to become a successful artist. He became Principal Painter to King Charles IV in 1799. In 1811, Joseph Bonaparte granted him the Royal Order of Spain. After the fall of the Napoleonic Empire, Goya once again worked for the Spanish court. With the restoration of Ferdinand VII's absolutist regime, the artist left Madrid for Paris and in 1825 settled in voluntary exile in Bordeaux, where he died after a final burst of activity. His work has since greatly ifluenced and inspired artists, particulalry :the 19th-century French painters.



Francisco de Goya y Lucientes (1746-L828) was one of the most influential figures in Spanish art. He was also extremely important in the development of modern aesthetic sensibility, a forerunner of Romanticism, both in the content of his paintings, with their in-depth exploration of reality and references to the dream world, and in his very original technique. His work embodies his personal imaginative visions, defying traditional academicism and conventional subjects. Goya described himself as a pupil of Velazquez, Rembrandt, and nature: from Velazquez, he acquired a feeling for softly shaded colour, applied in layers: from Rembrandt, his predilection for dark and mysterious background settings; and from nature, he took an endless variety of forms, some beautiful, some not. Goya was a keen observer of contemporary society and recorded the sense of unease caused by Spain's moral and political crisis in the closing years of the 18th century: he also portrayed with dexterity the picturesque quality and gaiety of the life of Madrid's majas; the religious life of the people and the enthusiasm for progress and technology (The Air Balloon, 1818-19).
Goya was liberal minded, a man of the Enlightenment, and his social circle was made Lip of progressive intellectuals. He turned his attention to the world of the dispossessed — in The Wounded Mason and Winter (1786-87). for example -and later to the mysterious world of sorcery and witchcraft, which was already popular among writers of the time. lie also strongly and graphically denounced injustice and cruelty, and the false morality and bigotry of religious hypocrites. In his Los Caprichos series (l797-99). Goya highlighted the evils of ignorance and superstition, attempting to exorcise them with his mercilessly lucid portrayals.
As chief Court painter, he painted superb portraits of the Spanish nobility and royalty, often influenced by Velazquez; echoes of the famous Las Meninas are evident in The Family of Charles IV. Using extraordinarily skilful pictorial effects, he accurately portrayed the Rococo opulence of furnishings and fashions, the aristocratic assurance of his subjects' poses, while subtly recording the pettiness and vanity of a corrupt and complacent ruling class. The French invasion, the subsequent popular uprising, the horrors of war. and disillusion at the realization that the supposed liberators were merely new oppressors, all prompted Goya to bear witness to events either in a realistic or an allegorical manner; his series of etchings The Disasters of War (1810-20) brings to mind Callot's earlier series. In 1819, he became seriously ill, and grew more introspective. He embarked on the strange and brilliant "black paintings'' cycle, which combined a very personal vision with his persistent religious themes. His preoccupation with human folly lasted right up until his death in 1828.


Francisco Goya
The Great Goat
Lazaro Galdiano Museum, Madrid

This is one of eight paintings commissioned by the Duchess of Osuna for her country house at Alameda.
The subject, similar to that of etching No. 60 of Los Caprichos, enabled Goya to combine his flair for fantasy
with savage attacks on the Church's abuses and exploitation of superstitions and fears,
which were deeply rooted in the popular imagination.




The two chief aspects of Romanticism are combined in the work of Goya: the exploration of the frontiers of a deeper life and the integration of historical fact. In The Colossus, Goya portrays the giant as bestial and strangely still. He stands against the dark and misty skies, hovering above a land populated by fleeing people. The painting represents the looming catastrophe of war, and the abandonment of humanity to the destructive force of instinct. Other key Goya works include Saturn Devouring His Own Son (1821-23), an allegory of Spain destroying her own people, and a "reportage" of 65 etchings. The Disasters of War, executed between 1810 and 1820. In these, the artist illustrates the massacres, rapes, violence, assassinations, profanities, and crimes committed by both the French and Spanish armies during the Napoleonic occupation. An obscure, curious, and irrational element was apparent in Goya's work. In his series of etchings Los Caprichos (published in 1799), there is none of the gaiety often dominant in similarly titled works by Tiepolo, Fragonard, or Guardi. The artist also questioned the excesses of his imagination in Capricho No. 43, a self-portrait. His head lies against a solid base, a metaphor for order within the world, while he is in the middle of a nightmare. He entitled the piece "The sleep of reason produces monsters", adding, "imagination abandoned by reason generates monstrosity; together they form the mother of the arts and the origin of marvels." This phrase sums up the aesthetic ideal of Romanticism, for which art does not "redeem" sickness, irrationality, or death but actually emanates from the same source. Goya's work was extremely advanced for its time, demonstrating an astonishing technical skill in both etching and painting. His works are characterized by problems and conflicts, unknown in 18th-century iconography, and a sparse, bleak treatment of landscape. Goya's portraits often reveal the extraordinary inner complexities of the human soul - they can illustrate at once arrogance, authority, and a sense of emptiness. Even when he was painting official canvases such as the celebrated group portrait The Family of Charles IV (1800-01), the human frailty of the subjects was made apparent. Goya's technique for painting nudes was to have a decisive influence on late Romantic and even Impressionist painting. His The Maja Nude (1800) is probably one of the most famous nudes in the history of art. He was also master of fresco painting, as is clear from the terrifying "black paintings" (1820-22) from the "House of the Deaf Man'', his country home, which were transferred to canvas in 1873. Unique for his time, Goya prefigured many of the themes of modern art in a wide-ranging body of work that displayed an unrivalled intensity of expression.


Francisco Goya

(Encyclopaedia Britannica)



Consummately Spanish artist whose multifarious paintings, drawings, and engravings reflected contemporary historical upheavals and influenced important 19th- and 20th-century painters. The series of etchings "Los desastres de la guerra" ("The Disasters of War," 1810-14 ) records the horrors of the Napoleonic invasion. His masterpieces in painting include "The Naked Maja" and "The Clothed Maja" (c. 1800-05).

Early training and career.

Goya began his studies in Zaragoza with José Luzán y Martínez, a local artist trained in Naples, and was later a pupil, in Madrid, of the court painter Francisco Bayeu, whose sister he married in 1773. He went to Italy to continue his studies and was in Rome in 1771. In the same year he returned to Zaragoza, where he obtained his first important commission for frescoes in the cathedral, which he executed at intervals during the next 10 years. These and other early religious paintings made in Zaragoza are in the Baroque-Rococo style then current in Spain and are influenced in particular by the great Venetian painter Giovanni Battista Tiepolo, who spent the last years of his life in Madrid (1762-70), where he had been invited to paint ceilings in the royal palace.

Goya's career at court began in 1775, when he painted the first of a series of more than 60 cartoons (preparatory paintings; mostly preserved in the Prado, Madrid), on which he was engaged until 1792, for the Royal Tapestry Factory of Santa Bárbara. These paintings of scenes of contemporary life, of aristocratic and popular pastimes, were begun under the direction of the German artist Anton Raphael Mengs, a great exponent of Neoclassicism who, after Tiepolo's death, had become undisputed art dictator at the Spanish court. In Goya's early cartoons the influence of Tiepolo's decorative style is modified by the teachings of Mengs, particularly his insistence on simplicity. The later cartoons reflect his growing independence of foreign traditions and the development of an individual style, which began to emerge through his study of the paintings of the 17th-century court painter Diego Velázquez in the royal collection, many of which he copied in etchings (c. 1778). Later in life he is said to have acknowledged three masters: Velázquez, Rembrandt, and, above all, nature. Rembrandt's etchings were doubtless a source of inspiration for his later drawings and engravings, while the paintings of Velázquez directed him to the study of nature and taught him the language of realism.

In 1780 Goya was elected a member of the Royal Academy of San Fernando, Madrid, his admission piece being a "Christ on the Cross," a conventional composition in the manner of Mengs but painted in the naturalistic style of Velázquez' "Christ on the Cross," which he doubtless knew. In 1785 he was appointed deputy director of painting at the Academy and in the following year painter to the king, Charles III. To this decade belong his earliest known portraits of court officials and members of the aristocracy, whom he represented in conventional 18th-century poses. The stiff elegance of the figures in full-length portraits of society ladies, such as "The Marquesa de Pontejos," and the fluent painting of their elaborate costumes also relates them to Velázquez' court portraits, and his representation of "Charles III as Huntsman" (private collection) is based directly on Velázquez' royal huntsmen.

Period under Charles IV.

The death of Charles III in 1788, a few months before the outbreak of the French Revolution, brought to an end the period of comparative prosperity and enlightenment in which Goya reached maturity. The rule of reaction and political and social corruption that followed--under the weak and stupid Charles IV and his clever, unscrupulous queen, Maria Luisa--ended with the Napoleonic invasion of Spain. It was under the patronage of the new king, who raised him at once to the rank of court painter, that Goya became the most successful and fashionable artist in Spain; he was made director of the Academy in 1795 (but resigned two years later for reasons of health) and first court painter in 1799. Though he welcomed official honours and worldly success with undisguised enthusiasm, the record that he left of his patrons and of the society in which he lived is ruthlessly penetrating. After an illness in 1792 that left him permanently deaf, his art began to take on a new character, which gave free expression to the observations of his searching eye and critical mind and to his newly developed faculty of imagination. During his convalescence he painted a set of cabinet pictures said to represent "national diversions," which he submitted to the Vice Protector of the Academy with a covering letter (1794), saying, "I have succeeded in making observations for which there is normally no opportunity in commissioned works, which give no scope for fantasy and invention." The set was completed by "The Madhouse" in 1794, a scene that Goya had witnessed in Zaragoza, painted in a broad, sketchy manner, with an effect of exaggerated realism that borders on caricature. For his more purposeful and serious satires, however, he now began to use the more intimate mediums of drawing and engraving. In "Los caprichos," a series of 80 etchings published in 1799, he attacked political, social, and religious abuses, adopting the popular imagery of caricature, which he enriched with highly original qualities of invention. Goya's masterly use of the recently developed technique of aquatint for tonal effects gives "Los caprichos" astonishing dramatic vitality and makes them a major achievement in the history of engraving. Despite the veiled language of designs and captions and Goya's announcement that his themes were from the "extravagances and follies common to all society," they were probably recognized as references to well-known persons and were withdrawn from sale after a few days. A few months later, however, Goya was made first court painter. Later he was apparently threatened by the Inquisition, and in 1803 he presented the plates of "Los caprichos" to the King in return for a pension for his son.

While uncommissioned works gave full scope for "observations," "fantasy," and "invention," in his commissioned paintings Goya continued to use conventional formulas. His decoration of the church of San Antonio de la Florida, Madrid (1798), is still in the tradition of Tiepolo; but the bold, free execution and the expressive realism of the popular types used for religious and secular figures are unprecedented. In his numerous portraits of friends and officials a broader technique is combined with a new emphasis on characterization. The faces of his sitters reveal his lively discernment of personality, which is sometimes appreciative, particularly in his portraits of women, such as that of "Doña Isabel de Porcel," but which is often far from flattering, as in his royal portraits. In the group of "The Family of Charles IV," Goya, despite his position as court painter, has portrayed the ugliness and vulgarity of the principal figures so vividly as to produce the effect of caricature.

The Napoleonic invasion and period after the restoration. In 1808, when Goya was at the height of his official career, Charles IV and his son Ferdinand were forced to abdicate in quick succession, Napoleon's armies entered Spain, and Napoleon's brother Joseph was placed on the throne. Goya retained his position as court painter, but in the course of the war he portrayed Spanish as well as French generals, and in 1812 he painted a portrait of "The Duke of Wellington." It was, however, in a series of etchings, "Los desastres de la guerra" (first published 1863), for which he made drawings during the war, that he recorded his reactions to the invasion and to the horrors and disastrous consequences of the war. The violent and tragic events, which he doubtless witnessed, are represented not with documentary realism but in dramatic compositions--in line and aquatint--with brutal details that create a vivid effect of authenticity.

On the restoration of Ferdinand VII in 1814, after the expulsion of the invaders, Goya was pardoned for having served the French king and reinstated as first court painter. "The 2nd of May 1808: The Charge of the Mamelukes" and "The 3rd of May 1808: The Execution of the Defenders of Madrid"  were painted to commemorate the popular insurrection in Madrid. Like "Los desastres," they are compositions of dramatic realism, and their monumental scale makes them even more moving. The impressionistic style in which they are painted foreshadowed and influenced later 19th-century French artists, particularly Manet, who was also inspired by the composition of "The 3rd of May." In several portraits of Ferdinand VII, painted after his restoration, Goya evoked--more forcefully than any description--the personality of the cruel tyrant, whose oppressive rule drove most of his friends and eventually Goya himself into exile. He painted few other official portraits, but those of his friends and relations and his "Self-Portraits" (1815) are equally subjective. Some of his religious compositions of this period, the "Agony in the Garden" and "The Last Communion of St. Joseph of Calasanz" (1819), are more suggestive of sincere devotion than any of his earlier church paintings. The enigmatic "black paintings" with which he decorated the walls of his country house, the "Quinta del Sordo" (1820-23, now in the Prado) and "Los proverbios" or "Los disparates," a series of etchings made at about the same time (though not published until 1864), are, on the other hand, nightmare visions in expressionist language that seem to reflect cynicism, pessimism, and despair.

Last years

In 1824, when the failure of an attempt to establish a liberal government had led to renewed persecution, Goya applied for permission to go to France for reasons of health. After visiting Paris he settled in voluntary exile in Bordeaux, where he remained, apart from a brief trip to Madrid, until his death. There, in spite of old age and infirmity, he continued to record his impressions of the world around him in paintings, drawings, and the new technique of lithography, which he had begun to use in Spain. His last paintings include genre subjects and several portraits of friends in exile: "Don Juan Bautista de Muguiro," "Leandro Fernández de Moratín," and "Don José Pío de Molina," which show the final development of his style toward a synthesis of form and character in terms of light and shade, without outline or detail and with a minimum of colour.





Francisco de Goya:

The Burial of the Sardine,

after 1812

Heathen carnival dance

(Rose-Marie & Rainer Hagen)


Some time after 1812, in a period of hardship for his country and himself, Francisco Goya painted an exuberant scene showing the revelry of the people of Madrid on Ash Wednesday. Liberal spirits like Goya had suffered under absolutism and the terror of the Inquisition, and the painting, a testimony to the customs and zest for life of the common people, reflects the artist's own feelings of anxiety and affliction. Measuring 82.5 x 62cm, the work is now in the Royal Academy of San Fernando, Madrid.


Francisco de Goya
The Burial of the Sardine

Oil on panel, 82,5 x 59 cm
Museo de la Real Academia de San Fernando, Madrid


Believers throughout Catholic Spain flocked to church on Ash Wednesday. "For dust thou art, and unto dust shallt thou return" - uttering the sacred text the priest drew an ashen cross on the forehead of each member of the congregation, admonishing them to repent their sins. In Madrid, by contrast, Ash Wednesday was a day of dancing and drinking as the Carnival reached its climax.
A surging mass of people gathers under a February sky. Men, women and children, most of them masked or at least disguised, crowd around four dancing figures: three in white, the fourth dressed as a bull in a death-mask. The figures appear to dance in step, some with arms raised gracefully above their heads, others gesticulating wildly. They have no need of accompaniment; there is no sign of a guitar. The rhythm is marked by the clatter of castanets and stamping feet, and by the clapping and snapping fingers of the spectators.
The scene has an air of improvisation, as if a group of people had decided, quite spontaneously, to perform a folk dance or some form of hilarious grotesquerie, perhaps the caricature of a seguidilla - hardly surprising in a land where every little girl, according to local legend, is born dancing. There was dancing at every occasion in Spain, even at the most important religious festivals. When a procession took place at Valencia, for example, it was customary for seven gypsies to dance a sacred round in front of the Holy Sacrament.
Goya's dancing scene, including the figures in white, the "bull", the man with the lance and a "bear" padding about in the foreground, forms part of a bizzare ceremony which took place in Madrid each year on Ash Wednesday, called "The Burial of the Sardine".
After carousing and revelling all through the last night of the Carnival, the population of Madrid donned their masks and costumes and took to the streets for a final fling. Towards evening, crowding onto the packed promenade at the Prado, they swelled the ranks of a burlesque "funeral march" which left the town by the Toledo gate. Not until they had reached the banks of the Manzanares, a favourite recreation spot, did they finally come to a halt.
Traditionally, the march was led by three masked figures, who may be among Goya's dancers: "Uncle Chispas" (the spark) with wild, rolling eyes, the vain heart-breaker "Juanillo", and the headstrong, beautiful "Chusca". The procession, with the masked figures at its head, made a mockery of the earnest pomp of Church parades. To the solemn roll of drums, sombre-looking men in hoods carried - instead of pictures of the saints -banners proclaiming a moon-faced, grinning King of the Carnival, as well as a giant straw doll called "Pelele", with a tiny dangling sardine.
Goya painted neither Pelele nor sardine - whose origin, incidentally, scholars are unable to trace. Instead, he showed the procession at one of the stages along its route, or perhaps simply a scene in the meadows beside the Manzanares, while elsewhere, to the din of exploding fireworks, the fish was buried and the straw doll went up in flames.
It was not only an occasion for dancing, but for much eating and drinking: on this first day of Lenten fasting, Church rules were brushed aside while roast kids and fat hams were consumed.
It is not known whether the Inquisition, which continued to spread terror in Goya's lifetime, actually attempted to suppress this heathen revelry. As guardian of the one true faith and purest of moralities it would natually condemn dancing. Nonetheless, it preferred to avoid direct conflict with the common people, choosing victims instead of a higher social status: in 1778 the entire estate of Don Pablo Olavide was confiscated by the Holy Tribunal and his name outlawed unto the fifth generation. He was accused, amongst other things, of permitting his servants to dance on a Sundav.


Days when barriers fell

Francisco de Goya
The Burial of the Sardine


In contrast to the women among the spectators, whose hair and skin is largely veiled, the castanet plaver reveals naked arms and an ample bosom. I he white mask and painted cheeks may well have concealed a man. or a prostitute. Carnival was an excellent opportunity for soliciting. Women wore trousers, men skirts, and evervone went about with notices, openly insulting figures of authority, pinned to their backs.
For a few days, the moral and social barriers of a rigidly hierarchical society were brushed aside, together with its sexual taboos. Periods of comparable orgiastic licentiousness, known as bacchanalia or Saturnalia, had taken place in pre-Christian times. The ascendant Christian Church had done what it could to control the revelry, incorporating it into its own calendar as a short period of roisterous behaviour leading to the 40 days of Lenten fasting before Easter.
Like the etymology of the word "carnival" itself, the origins of the customs associated with Carnival remain obscure. They may go back a long way - possibly as far as the archaic and bloodthirsty fertility rites of certain early agrarian societies. Thus the straw doll, Pelele, who goes up in flames on the final day of the Madrid festival, is said to be a distant descendant of certain kings who sacrificed themselves to ensure their people had a rich harvest. Later, their subjects were forced to take their place: Caesar wrote of gigantic wicker figures which the Celts packed with people and set alight. The custom of the carnival pyre continued to flourish wherever the Celts settled, including Spain. Figures were ignited, as in Madrid, outside the gates of the city. This was not for fear of fire, but because the ritual, whether designed to conjure or expel, was directed at spirits that walked in twilight zones.
A person who had committed a heinous crime or died a violent death did not, according to popular belief, find everlasting peace, but returned as a ghost to haunt the living. Masks and painted faces were worn to ward them off. Death-masks with hollow eyes stare from Goya's crowd, while the word "Mortus" - death - can be made out, admittedly with some difficulty, on the dark banner above them. Carnival was not, originally, a festival of joy. According to ancient belief, the ghostly "undead" reappeared around the time of the last new moon in winter. This coincided with the old Celtic spring festival and, more or less, with the Christian Carnival.
The mask of the bear in the bottom left of the painting was appropriate to the occasion. As soon as spring arrives, the bear wakes from hibernation and staggers out of its cave. According to a curious tradition, to whose seriousness Aristotle testifies, the bear's first act upon appearing in this manner is to eat a laxative herb, causing it to expel, in a fart of tempestuous proportions, all those spirits to which it had played host during the winter months.


The duchess boozed in seedy bars


Francisco de Goya
The Burial of the Sardine


The bear 'was usually accompanied by the figure of a huntsman. However, the moustachioed figure with lowered lance joining the dancers may be the partner of the black bull in this folk dance. His costume, with the black, broad-rimmed hat, leather trousers and embroidered sleeveless waistcoat, is reminiscent of the traditional suits worn by picadors in Goya's renderings of bullfights. The spectators at the "Burial of the Sardine" were also those who thronged to the arena for bullfights. Gathered around the dancers are the "lower" orders, people who lived in the poorer quarters of Madrid. This was "el commun", the common people, or, as those who could afford a coach called them, "la gente de a pie": the people who go on foot.
White mantillas gleam wherever one-looks in the crowd. Worn black in the north, white in the south and Madrid, and accompanied by a broad dark skirt, they were traditionally worn by Spanish women of all classes. Among the spectators were probably housewives, servant girls and fishwives, as well as workmen, water salesmen and grocers, peddlers and shop-boys. Like the dancer on the right, many are wearing a round Castilian leather cap over a knotted kerchief, pulled down over the forehead, as well as a woollen blanket slung across the shoulders, the poor man's apology for a winter coat.
With insecure wages, most "would have lived in primitive housing, from which they fled whenever the opportunity arose. On official Church holidays they swarmed outdoors onto the street, or to the meadows by the river. They were drawn to any kind of mass entertainment, and their love of show and glitter drew them in great numbers to the corrida, the theatre and Church processions.
Goya achieved his first success as a young artist by painting various forms of Spanish popular entertainment. His colourful designs for tapestries, for instance, showed a local beauty under a parasol, a game of blindman's buff and a Dance on the Banks of the Manzanares. These works were painted for an aristocracy who, determined to keep French influence at bay, were becoming nationally self-aware and developing a taste for folk culture.
Wearing the traditional folk costume of a maja or manola, an ordinary girl, the pampered Duchess of Alba accompanied the artist to the corrida, or to backstreet bars of ill repute. Her forays into this nether world allowed this lady of the highest nobility to enjoy the thrill of danger: unbuttoned, boisterous moods could change quickly, fights broke out without warning, knives flashed.
Goya, painting the bloody outcome of a spontaneous uprising on The Third of May, 1808 in Madrid,, captures something of this violent streak in the Spanish temperament. The Spanish had borne with equanimity the mismanagement of their economy by their own king, Charles IV. However, when the French occupied the country and plundered the churches, and when Napoleon took away their monarch, there was an armed rebellion. From 1808 until 1812 they fought a fierce guerilla war against the occupants, with torture, murder and other atrocities. Traces of the struggle are found in Goya's work.


From bon vivant to lone wolf


Francisco de Goya
The Burial of the Sardine


One of the faces - or masks- in the crowd is particularly conspicuous, resembling a self-portrait Goya executed in 1815 at the age of sixty-nine, a painting approximately contemporary with The Burial of the Sardine. With his flat, peasant's face and deeply-set eyes, his slightly cocked head protruding from an open collar, the artist moved with ease among the common folk of Madrid. He was one of them - by birth, temperament and inclination.
Goya lived in Madrid for 50 years. Born the son of a gilder at Fuendetodos in Aragon in 1746, he had come to Madrid in 1774, achieving a certain renown through his large-scale cartoons for tapestries. In his book "Tableau de l'Espagne moderne" the French Baron de Bourgoing praised Goya's talent for "rendering the customs, costumes and games of his own country in a manner that is at once charming and true to life". As a portraitist, too, Goya was much in demand. With his passion for hard work, Goya's genius soon brought him success in the public sphere: in 1780 he was elected to the Academy of San Fernando, six years later becoming a court painter. In 1789 he was nominated "court painter to the king", a highly coveted position, bringing him a sizeable allowance. This not only secured his family's livelihood, but enabled the bon vivant Goya to indulge in the kind of extravagant lifestyle that a Madrid manolo would find appealing. Goya loved extravagance of all kinds; he dressed as a dandy and was especially proud of his fashionable coach. His correspondence shows him to have been an extrovert craftsman who, besides painting, was particularly fond of women, bullfights and hot chocolate.
Gradually, however, the uneducated artist came under the influence of his colleagues at the Academy: intellectuals, journalists and politicians. These men, with their dreams of a liberal Spain, had saluted with enthusiasm the outbreak of the French Revolution. Writing to a friend in 1790, Goya declared: "I have a mind to uphold a certain idea and to maintain a certain dignity that is said to belong to all men."
Two years later, Goya developed a near-fatal illness, leaving him stone deaf and increasingly isolated. The unsophisticated bon vivant turned into a brooding lone wolf. Though continuing his work as a portraitist, he refused to make any more cartoons of gay, folkloric scenes. He no longer painted for success, but in order "to occupy an imagination mortified by the contemplation of my sufferings."
He began a series of pictures of shipwrecks, night fires and dramatic scenes with brigands. These small pictures permitted him to capture observations "which one cannot express ... in commissioned works, since these do not allow free reign to fantasy and invention." Using engravings and drawings, Goya was able to give to each "fantasy" - each caprice, or "capricho" in Spanish - the most vivid expression possible. In 1799 he published a series of satirical engravings entitled Los Caprichos, castigating, in the manner of his "enlightened" friends, all kinds of stupidity, prejudice and superstition, and attacking the powers of oppression, including the Church and its Inquisition, for keeping the people in ignorance and misery.
There is a preliminary study for The Burial of the Sardine showing the wildly dancing figures as priests, monks and nuns. However, Goya did not dare ridicule such a powerful institution quite so directly in the painting itself.


Death in the guise of a bull

Francisco de Goya
The Burial of the Sardine


The gathering is dominated by a sombre figure dressed in black, whose attributes, a death-mask and horns, have personified evil in myth and legend for thousands of years. Figures of this kind include a creature "with a ram's head who accompanied the Celtic death god, the scapegoat sent into the desert laden with the sins of the Israelites, and Satan, in the guise of a black goat, celebrating eerie mass with his witches. In the arenas of Spain, black bulls, bursting with vigour, are vanquished by toreros who wear a glittering "suite of light", re-enacting, whether consciously or unconsciously, an ancient cultic ritual in which good triumphs over evil.
Goya himself is said to have been something of a bullfighter in his youth, and many of his works show the various stages of ritual killing. Together with The Burial of the Sardine, his Bullfight in a Village belongs to a group of five pictures donated by Manuel Garcia de la Prada, a friend of the artist, to the Royal Academy of San Fernando, where they hang to this day. Since the paintings are not mentioned in Goya's inventory of 1812, they were probably executed in the years that followed, a fateful period for Spain, as well as for the artist himself.
Though the Spanish had won the war against France, Ferdinand VII, the monarch they had "yearned for", returned in 1814 only to reintroduce absolute rule and, with it, the Inquisition. Reaction and the forces of oppression triumphed; "whoever stood in their way "was purged, tortured and hanged. One of Goya's friends, the actor Maiquez, lost his sanity in prison; others, liberals like himself, fled the country for France. Goya, too, was summoned before the Inquisition, probably to answer for the offence caused by his nude painting Naked Maja. He got off lightly, even retaining his allowance as a court painter. With the death of his wife and the Duchess of Alba, however, the artist became inreasingly reclusive, virtually retiring from public life altogether. The experiences and fears of these years are reflected in the five Academy paintings: besides The Burial of the Sardine and the Bullfight, there is an Asylum, a procession of fanatical, bleeding flagellants and a trial before the Inquisition.
These works mark a period of transition in Goya's oeuvre. Though remaining a painter of folk scenes containing realistic renderings of the customs of la gente de a pie, he began now to reveal the terrible abyss that gaped behind the seemingly harmless activities of the common people. His colours grew pale and ghastly, or deeply sombre, and his figures lost that characteristic "charm" which had once brought his work such admiration. Instead, they gesticulated like marionettes, with faces hidden behind masks: "For all life", according to the artist, "is a masquerade. Faces, dress and voice are false; each one decieves the other."



A Reflection of Horror

The Spanish Revolt against Napoleon

(K. Reichold, B. Graf)


No one is innocent once he has seen what I have seen. I witnessed how the noblest ideals of freedom and progress were transformed into lances, sabres and bayonets. Arson, looting and rape, all supposed to bring a New Order, in reality only exchanged the garrotte for the gallows.

Francisco de Goya, from an entry in his diary, 1808


Francisco de Goya
The Third of May, 1808: The Execution of the Defenders of Madrid

Oil on canvas, 266 x 345 cm
Museo del Prado, Madrid

This painting, one of Goya's most famous, was particularly influential, later inspiring the war paintings of Manet and Picasso. The canvas shows the execution by firing squad, on a mound near Prince Pius' house, of some partisans who had taken part in the riots of May 1808 against Joseph Bonaparte, whom Napoleon had placed on the throne of Spain. Napoleon's fortunes took a turn for the worse soon after these riots. The dramatic scene takes place at night, in an lonely spot near Madrid's Royal Palace (shown as a large, dark shape on the right in the background). Goya is commemorating the patriots' bravery but keeps an objective, detached view of this very modern method of slaughter. In the foreground on the right, the firing squad is lined up; on the left, in front of the levelled guns, are the martyrs of independence, gathered around a figure in a white shirt and illuminated by the yellow light of the lantern placed on the ground.

The composition is based on two opposing groups: the one on the right is structured with straight lines that run across the soldiers and their muskets, seen m perspective; and the one on the left is arranged along curved lines around the man in the while shin. In the background, the horizontal lines of the buildings predominate. On the left, the mound and the clothes of the central figure provide reflected light-more light comes from the lantern.

Through the darkness, two bright sources of light project dazzling rays, exposing the expressive details of the faces and stances, and the pool of blood that has soaked into the ground. In the semi-darkness, stand indistinct figures in dramatic poses, and on the ground lie the motionless figures of the executed men. streaked with red. Lit by harsh rays of light, the rebel group emerge from the darkness.

The central figure holds out his arms like a man crucified and yells, showing defiance through his pose arid gesture. The bright white and yellow stand out against the subdued colour of his surroundings, contributing to an arresting and dramatic image. In the foreground, a body lies with its arms outstretched.

The soldiers line up with a well-drilled military rigidity, carrying out their orders like machines, each with the same tensed stance, their legs apart for greater stability when the recoil comes, 'they form a chorus of grey and broivns, which varies only in the colours of their knapsacks. A. pale, cold light, from a source outside the picture towards the right foreground, illuminates their backs and flanks; this is the same light that falls on the bodies lying on the ground to the left. The painter intended that the viewer should only notice the firing squad after studying and empathizing with the condemned man.

Firm brushstrokes, interspersed with touches of black, portray the faces of the Spaniards on the centre right of this detail. Each face has its own identity; they are like masks illustrating despair, the whites of their eves showing terror, and their expressions contorted with fear and horror. A smoky red is present in the skin colour, adding to the vigorous chiaroscuro effect. Goya has invested his composition with a great sense of freedom, and his use of colour shows a move towards contemporary art.



Napoleon was furious. The "damned Spanish affair" was out of control. Early on, the power-mad Emperor of France had thought it would be a pushover. Charles IV of Spam, a weakling at best, had retreated into the background, leaving the government in the hands of his wife Maria Luisa and her lover Manuel Godoy. Napoleon could have won over the ambitious Godoy by making him viceroy of Spain. However, his links with Napoleon, which led to a disastrous war with Great Britain, made Godoy unpopular throughout Spain. He only barely escaped being lynched by fleeing to France.
Napoleon, cunning as he was, had always treated Spain, an ally of France, like a subject nation. He refused to admit defeat at the hands of a nation occupied by his troops. Pretending to seek reconciliation, he summoned the Spanish king and queen, with the crown prince in tow, to France. Napoleons real intention was to keep the Spanish royals captive and put his eldest brother, Joseph Bonaparte, on the Iberian throne. When Napoleon's treachery became known, a desperate revolt broke out in Spain on z May 1808. Hopelessly outnumbered, a band of people armed with knives and lances attacked a powerful French cavalry force in the Puerta del Sol, a square in the heart of Madrid. Begun in blind, impotent anger, the revolt was doomed from the outset to failure. Still it No one has come closer to showing the naked brutality of those events than Francisco de Goya, Court Painter to Charles IV, who had originally welcomed Napoleons ideals. Imbued with the spirit of the French Revolution, he had not hesitated to show the Spanish royal family for what it was, painting them in a highly unflattering light. However, Napoleon turned out to be the opposite of what he had seemed to be. Although he had originally proclaimed freedom for his own and other peoples of Europe, he revealed himself as a despot. Perhaps his values had become corrupted and twisted. In any case, Goya depicted the scene with a twist: his hero is the victim who will be the next to be shot. The man in the white shirt spreads out his arms like Christ on the Cross. The wounds on his hands are like Christ's. His message is:
I die that you may live. It was to take five years to drive the French out of Spain.


Francisco de Goya

("Life and Work" E. L. Buchholz)



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