Life of Goya Essay

This essay has a total of 1206 words and 6 pages.

Life of Goya

Life of Goya

With the coronation of the two Catholic rulers, Ferdinand and Isabella in 1479, the
country of Spain slowly began to unite. Piece by piece, the King and Queen recaptured once
lost lands and built their empire. In 1516 Carlos V rose to power, establishing the
Hapsburg reign. The Hapsburg ruled for nearly two hundred years until the death of Charles
II. With him died a Golden Age for Spain that the Catholic rulers established. Spain fell
into a time of mass poverty, disorganization, and lackadaisical rule. One force that was
structured in Spain was the church. Catholicism was not only a religion in Spain but also
a significant influence in society. At the time, however, it did little to improve the
conditions. Classes were heavily lopsided. The middle class was almost non-existent, and
the upper class monopolized agricultural land. The provinces of Aragon, La Mancha, and
Castile were where most of the poverty and depression was concentrated. Costal cities
like Cadiz and Madrid were where prosperity existed. In the midst of commencing
political and aristocratic turmoil, was born one of the most talented and patriotically
concerned artists Spain has ever seen.

On March 30, 1745 in the rural town of Fuendetodos, Francisco Jose de Goya y Lucientes was
born. He was born poor and at the fall of the Hapsburg Monarchy. Goya’s father was the
son of a notary, or a small time lawyer, and his mother Dona Gracia Lucientes, was a
hidalgo. Hidalgos were the lowest order in Spanish nobility. Goya


was still a boy when he and his family moved to the city of Saragossa. Saragossa contained
more life than the rural city of Fuendetodos. Here he began school, where he barely
learned to read and write. After attending elementary school, Francisco went to a Jesuit
school or “college”. It was here where the foundation of his career was laid. It was
recommended that he develop his natural skills in drawing. A local master painter, named
Jose Luzan y Martinez, took Goya under his wing. Martinez was a typical third rank painter
of that time, but was well respected in the city. Goya began learning to paint the human
figure by copying sculptures and molds. The drawing of naked models was forbidden at that
time. By this point Goya showed himself as a fine copyist, and able to adapt quickly to
other peoples’ styles. Goya’s first commission was the painting of the church doors at
Fuendentodos. This project confirmed his profession. When he saw the painting some 50
years later he exclaimed, “ Don’t say I painted those!” At age 17 Goya went to test
himself in a larger and more demanding area, Madrid.

Another individual who had a profound impact on Goya’s life and art was Velazquez.
Velazquez was a painter of Spain’s pride and power –a superb realist. Although Velazquez
had an influence on Goya’s artistic style, his art is distinctly different from that of
his predecessor. Velazquez’s paintings depicted absolute and precise figures. Most of
Goya’s work, other than portraits, was noticeably distorted.

These were times of confusion and despair, which would serve as artistic topics for Goya’s
work. The other half of his work is strictly his reaction and response to

surrounding occurrences. Perhaps nobody depicted mortal’s thoughts and actions better than
Goya. He combined his personal thoughts and the thoughts of the character in the painting
so they either contrasted or became one. Goya used this devise of altering human
characteristics as a way to undermine politicians and aristocrats without confrontation.

A prime example of this is in the portrait of the family of Charles the IV. Charles IV was
a Bourbon King who was later deposed by Napoleon. This portrait is at the pivotal point
of Goya’s career. The public Goya and the private Goya, usually rigidly separated were
briefly allowed to merge. As Goya was at the center of the social scene by this point,
he was very aware of the history, people and events of his time. He depicts the characters
and family members as he sees them, weak, sheltered, and cocky. The clothing and costumes
on the people describe their rank in society, however their faces portray a lack of power
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