For Goya, painting is a vehicle of moral instruction, not a simple aesthetic object, its most contemporary references were Giambattista Tiepolo and Anton Raphael Mengs, although it was also influenced by Diego Velázquez and Rembrandt.
Great popularity has its Maja naked, partly favored by the controversy generated around the identity of the beautiful portrayed. Other portraits dating from the beginning of the 19th century also set out on the road to new bourgeois art. At the end of the Spanish-French conflict, he painted two large paintings on the events of the Dos de Mayo uprising of 1808, which set an aesthetic and thematic precedent for the history picture, which not only comments on events close to the reality he lives the artist, but he achieves a universal message. Among other works of his, his culminating work includes the Disparates, as well as the series of oil paintings on the dry wall, the Black Paintings, with which he decorated his country house, the Quinta del Sordo, where Goya anticipated the contemporary painting and the various avant-garde movements that would mark the twentieth century and are, according to JM Matilla, Chief of Conservation of Drawings and Prints of the Museo Nacional del Prado, “the first manifestations of the truly modern character of Goya, which we should not hesitate in qualify as the first modern artist”.
Goya’s work includes some five hundred oil paintings and mural paintings, as well as about three hundred etchings and lithographs and hundreds of drawings. The majority is preserved in the Madrid Museo del Prado, although there is also a good number of works in France, especially in the Louvre Museum, as well as in Agen, Bayonne, Besançon, Castres, Lille and Strasbourg.
After a slow learning in his native land, in the stylistic field of late Baroque and devotional prints, he traveled to Italy in 1770, where he made contact with the incipient neoclassicism, which he adopted when he went to Madrid in the middle of that decade, together with a picturesque Rococo manners derived from his new work as a painter of cartons for the tapestries of the Royal Tapestry Factory of Santa Bárbara. The magisterium in this activity and in others related to court painting was imposed at that time by Anton Raphael Mengs, while the most famous Spanish painter was Francisco Bayeu, who was Goya’s brother-in-law.
A serious illness that afflicted him in 1793 led him to approach a more creative and original painting, which expressed themes less friendly than the models he had painted for the decoration of the royal palaces. A series of tinplate squares made during his convalescence, which he called “caprice and invention“, begin the mature phase of the artist’s work and the transition towards romantic aesthetics.
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