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Francisco Goya

Francisco Goya is thought to be one of the most famous artists who have ever lived in universe. Goya is seen to have been a combination of the old masters and the new era artists. To some extent, he can be said to be the father of modern art. Goya began his art studies as a teenager. To further his education, Goya spent some time in Rome, Italy. Sometime around the 1770s, Goya worked for the Royal Spanish Court. He specialized in painting portraits of those members of the noble class which were commissioned. In addition to portraits, Goya also came up with works that aimed to criticize problems in his era. These problems were mostly of political and social nature (Hagen & Hagen, 2003). This paper aims to look into Goya’s life, from childhood to death.

Francisco Jose de Goya, as he was named, was born in Spain at a place called Fuendetodos on the 30th of March 1746. Fuendetodos was located near Saragossa, Aragon. It was apparently a poor village. Goya’s father was a gilder in the town of Saragossa. It is here that Goya spent most of his childhood and some part of adolescence. Francisco began his studies at the age of 13. One the teachers, who had a great influence on Goya, was José Lusán, who gave his lessons in Naples. Goya’s first instructor taught him how to draw, paint using oil, and copy engravings. In 1763 and 1766, Goya competed for a scholarship. The scholarship was supposed to be given by the Royal Academy of San Fernando, Madrid. However, the young artist failed to get the scholarship.

Later on, Goya worked in the studio of the court painter Francisco Bayeu who also came from Saragossa, where Goya’s father worked.  Goya had a passion for art, and for this reason, the young man went to Rome. He saved up some money to pay for the trip to Rome.  In 1771, in April to be precise, Goya participated in a competition that was held by the Academy of Parma. Goya introduced himself as a student of Francisco Bayeu in that competition and won the second prize. At the end of the same year, the artist returned to Saragossa. In this very city Goya received his first official permission to work in Basilica of the Pillar, where he was honored to paint cupolas (Connell, 2004).

In the year 1773, Goya married Francisco Bayeu’s sister Josefa Bayeu with whom he had son Xavier. The following year, 1774, Anton Raphael Mengs asked Goya to come back to Madrid. Goya was summoned to draw cartoons in the Royal Factory, Santa Barbara. It was Mengs inspired Francisco to further his court career. It must be stated that Goya was influenced by many artist including Bayeu and Mariano Maella. Francisco Bayeu managed to complete over 60 cartoons drawn on tapestry between 1775 and 1792. Some of his famous cartoons include ‘The Parasol’, ‘Fight at the Cock Inn’, and ‘La Cometa’ (The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2011).

In 1780, The Royal Academy of San Fernando elected Francisco as a member of the institution. It was during this time that Goya worked on the frescoes of El Pilar in Saragossa. Francisco was later invited to Madrid to paint altarpieces for the Church of San Francisco el Grande. The king liked his work and a year after they were completed Goya was appointed to the post of Director of Painting in one of the academies of Madrid. A year later, Goya became a court painter. Francisco kept his position as the court painter during the reign of Charles III and his son Charles IV. When Napoleon invaded Spain and his brother took over the throne, Goya was asked to complete some works for the French ruler as well. Later on, Spain managed to set free from France’s tyranny. The new king, Ferdinand VII, appointed Goya as the court painter. Francisco kept this position for the period of the governance of Ferdinand VII although, he worked for Napoleon’s brother. Ferdinand VII once stated that the only reason that Goya was left at court was due to his great talent. At that point, Goya was not garroted; unfortunately, many of his fellow friends were killed by the French.

However, Goya continuously expressed his rebellion towards Ferdinand’s governance by painting various works. The etchings, which he worked on, were known as the ‘Los Disparates’. These pictures expressed the absurdity of times during Ferdinand’s reign (Hagen & Hagen, 2003).

Later on, in the year 1792, Goya went down with an unknown illness. At that time, the nature of the illness could not be identified and, thus, could not be cured. As the result, the painter was temporary paralyzed and partially sighted. He also became permanently deaf. To this end, Francisco could only communicate by the means of written and non-verbal language. Later on, in 1793, Goya returned to Madrid. His longtime friend and teacher, Francisco Bayeu, died in the year 1795. After his death, Goya was appointed to the position as the Director of Painting in his previous academy. The painter later resigned due to ill health. In 1799, Goya was again appointed as the first court painter. It was also during this year that his series of etchings, entitled ‘Los Caprichos’, were published. In 1824, Francisco decided to go into exile to Bordeaux, France. He still continued to paint while in exile. The artist painted portraits of some of his friends who were in exile with him. Francisco Goya died April 16, 1828 in Bordeaux France (Connell, 2004).

In conclusion, Goya had a fruitful life. He is considered to be one of the most prominent painters, whose talent is unrivaled. A great amount of works are live proofs and can be found in various museums. Francisco Jose de Goya managed to combine the old and new eras. Therefore, Francisco Jose de Goya deserves the title of the legend. 

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