Francisco Goya

A master of irony as well as elegance, Francisco José de Goya y Lucientes — better known as Goya — is considered to be one of the most important Spanish artists of the late 18th and early 19th centuries. Just as he straddles two centuries, he can also be seen as both the last of the Old Masters and the father of modern art.

Goya’s career spanned one of the most turbulent eras in European history. For more than 60 years, the new liberal values of the Enlightenment battled with the religious and social strictures of the old continental monarchies. As revolution, counter-revolution and war ravaged Europe, his work not only chronicled the nature of his epoch but underwent an extraordinary revolution itself.

Goya was born in Fuendetodos, Spain in 1746. At the age of 14, his family moved to Zaragoza, where he trained under José Luzán y Martínez. By the late 1770s, he had earned himself a place as an artist to the Madrid court of King Charles III.

The years of his professional ascent were spent working in the Rococo traditions of the Spanish court, producing tapestry cartoons, religious paintings and court portraits. But, at the height of his career, illness struck. In 1792, six years after he had been appointed Painter to the King, he was left permanently deaf.

It was a calamity that affected Goya profoundly. Though he would remain a celebrated court painter, he began to explore more intimate and personal subject matters, developing a style that was often looser and more impressionistic.

In 1799, he produced the extraordinary, satirical print sequence, Los Caprichos, which includes the famous work The Sleep of Reason Produces Monsters. The first major artist to work in the relatively new technique of aquatint, Los Caprichos marked a turning point in the history of printmaking.

From 1808, his work on the Peninsular War, including his masterpieces, The Third of May 1808 (1814) and The Disasters of War (1810–20), reveal a uniquely modern, humanist sensibility that saw war as a series of nightmarish atrocities rather than the glorious enterprise of traditional representation.

In his later years, embittered by the horrors of the Napoleonic Wars and Spain’s subsequent return to despotism under Ferdinand VII, he produced the haunting murals known as the Black Paintings (1820–23). Presaging Impressionism, and even Expressionism, they are Goya’s revolutionary testament to the birth of the modern world as a place of terror and darkness. The most famous work from this series, Saturn, shows the mythical god (father of Jupiter) in the act of devouring his son.

Goya’s unique vision would have a profound effect on many of the 19th and 20th centuries’ greatest artists, from Édouard Manet to Francis Bacon. He died in 1828.

In 2023, Goya’s pair of portraits depicting María Vicenta Barruso Valdés and her mother Leonora Antonia Valdés de Barruso realised an auction record for the artist when they sold at Christie’s New York for $16.4 million.

FRANCISCO JOSÉ DE GOYA Y LUCIENTES (FUENDETODOS 1746-1828 BORDEAUX)

Portrait of Doña María Vicenta Barruso Valdés, seated on a sofa with a lap-dog; and Portrait of her mother Doña Leonora Antonia Valdés de Barruso, seated on a chair holding a fan

Francisco José de Goya y Lucientes (Fuendetodos 1746-1828 Bordeaux)

Bajan riñendo (They go down quarrelling) or Vision de bajar riñendo (Vision: going down quarrelling)

Francisco Jose de Goya y Lucientes (Fuendetodos 1746-1828 Bordeaux)

Si yerras los tiros! (If you miss the mark!)

Francisco José de Goya y Lucientes (Fuendetodos 1746-1828 Bordeaux)

Constable Lampiños stitched into a dead horse

Francisco de Goya y Lucientes (1746-1828)

Los Caprichos (D. 38-117; H. 36-115)

Francisco de Goya y Lucientes (1746-1828)

La Tauromaquia (D. 224-256; H. 204-236)

Francisco de Goya y Lucientes (1746-1828)

Los Proverbios (D. 202-219; H. 248-265)

Francisco de Goya y Lucientes (1746-1828)

Group with sleeping woman (D. 277; H. 279)

Francisco de Goya y Lucientes (1746-1828)

Con Razon ó Sin Ella (Rightly or wrongly), plate 2 from; Los Desastres de la Guerra (D. 121; H. 122)

GOYA Y LUCIENTES, Francisco (1746-1828)

[ Los Caprichos . Madrid : chez l'artiste, 1799]

Francisco de Goya y Lucientes (Fuendetodos 1746-1828 Bordeaux)

Los Desastres de la Guerra (The Disasters of War)

Francisco de Goya y Lucientes (1746-1828)

Fuerte cosa es! (That's tough!), plate 31 from; Los Desastres de la Guerra (D. 150; H. 151)

Francisco de Goya y Lucientes (1746-1828)

Se Aprovechan (They make use of them), plate 16 from; Los Desastres de la Guerra (D. 135; H. 136)

Francisco de Goya y Lucientes (1746-1828)

Los Proverbios (D. 202-219: H. 248-265)

FRANCISCO DE GOYA Y LUCIENTES (1746-1828)

Los Desastres de la Guerra

FRANCISCO DE GOYA (1746-1828)

El famoso Americano, Mariano Ceballos, from: The Bulls of Bordeaux

FRANCISCO DE GOYA Y LUCIENTES (1746-1828)

The sleep of reason produces monsters (El sueño de la razó n produce monstruos) Plate 43 from: Los Caprichos

Francisco de Goya y Lucientes

Twenty-two plates from: La Tauromaquia (cf. Delteil 224 ff.; Harris 204 ff.)

Francisco de Goya y Lucientes (1746-1828)

Los Desastres de la Guerra (Delteil 120-199; Harris 121-200)

FRANCISCO DE GOYA Y LUCIENTES (1764-1828)

Los Desastres de la Guerra

GOYA Y LUCIENTES, Francisco de (1746-1828)

Los Desastres de la Guerra . Madrid: Real Academia de Nobles Artes de San Fernando, 1863.

FRANCISCO DE GOYA Y LUCIENTES (1746-1828)

Los Desastres de la Guerra

Francisco de Goya y Lucientes (1746-1828)

El Agarrotado (D. 21; H. 21)

FRANCISCO DE GOYA Y LUCIENTES (1746-1828)

Picador caught by a Bull (Bravo Toro), from: The Bulls of Bordeaux

GOYA Y LUCIENTES, Francisco de (1746-1828)

Los Desastres de la Guerra . Madrid: Real Academia de Nobles Artes de San Fernando, 1863.

Francisco de Goya y Lucientes (1746-1828)

Old woman spinning (D. 268; H. 270)

FRANCISCO DE GOYA Y LUCIENTES (1746-1828)

Los Desastres de la Guerra

Francisco de Goya y Lucientes

Los Desastres de La Guerra