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Francisco de Goya (1746 - 1828)

Lifespan: 1740s - 1828

Related: caricature (cfr. Los Caprichos) - art horror - realism - art - fantastic art - grotesque art - Spain

American art critic Northrop Frye calls the sort of realism displayed in Goya's work "a revolutionary or prophetic realism, of the sort that runs through Brueghel, Hogarth, Goya, and Daumier. This kind of realism is often not realistic in form: it may be presented as fantasy, as in Brueghel's Mad Margaret or Goya's Caprichos. But it tears apart the façade of society and shows us the forces working behind that façade, and is realistic in the sense of sharpening our vision of society as a mode of existence rather than simply an environment."

My favourite print from Los Caprichos, The sleep of reason produces monsters (1797-98), a perfect illustration of the irrationalism present in the most rationalist areas of life. [Apr 2006]

Las Chinchillas (1799) - Goya

By a perverse process, Goya's degenerate noblemen provided Hollywood with the imagery for gothic literature's most enduring parable of French revolutionary excess, Frankenstein's monster. --Richard Davenport-Hines, 1999


Francisco José de Goya y Lucientes (March 30, 1746 – April 16, 1828) was a Spanish painter and engraver. He was born in Fuendetodos and later lived primarily in Madrid. Brought up in Zaragoza, at 14 he was apprenticed to José Luzán, an artist friend of his father. He married Josefa Bayeu, the sister of Francisco Bayeu, in 1773.

Charles IV of Spain and his family.His later influence is significant since his art was both deeply subversive and subjective, at a time when these attitudes were not predominant. His emphasis on the foreground and faded background portends the work of Manet. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Francisco_Goya [Jan 2006]

Paintings of Majas

La Maja desnuda (c.1800) - Francisco de Goya

La Maja vestida (c.1800) - Francisco de Goya

Two of Goya's most famous pictures, shown above, are known as The Clothed Maja and The Nude Maja (La Maja vestida and La Maja desnuda). They depict the same woman in the same pose, clothed and naked respectively. La Maja Vestida was painted after outrage in Spanish society over the previous Desnuda. He refused to paint clothes on her, and so simply created a new painting. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Francisco_Goya [Feb 2005]

La Maja Desnuda ("The Nude Maja") is a oil painting on canvas by the master Spanish painter, Francisco de Goya, that portrays a nude woman reclining on a bed of pillows. It was executed some time between 1797 and 1800, and is said to be the first depiction of pubic hair in Western art.--http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/La_Maja_Desnuda [Jan 2006]

Saturn Devouring His Son (1819) - Francisco de Goya

Saturn Devouring His Son (1819) - Francisco de Goya

Another one of his more famous works is "Saturn Devouring His Son", which displays a Greco-Roman mythological scene of the god Saturn consuming a child. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Francisco_Goya [Feb 2005]

Lovecraft on Goya

Any magazine-cover hack can splash paint around wildly and call it a nightmare or a Witches' Sabbath or a portrait of the devil, but only a great painter can make such a thing really scare or ring true. That's because only a real artist knows the actual anatomy of the terrible or the physiology of fear- the exact sort of lines and proportions that connect up with latent instincts or hereditary memories of fright, and the proper colour contrasts and lighting effects to stir the dormant sense of strangeness. I don't have to tell you why a Fuseli really brings a shiver while a cheap ghost-story frontispiece merely makes us laugh. There's something those fellows catch- beyond life- that they're able to make us catch for a second. Doré had it. [Sidney] Sime has it. Angarola of Chicago has it.


I don't believe anybody since Goya could put so much of sheer hell into a set of features or a twist of expression. And before Goya you have to go back to the mediaeval chaps who did the gargoyles and chimaeras on Notre Dame and Mont Saint-Michel. -- H. P. Lovecraft, written in 1926, published October 1927 in Weird Tales, sourced via http://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Pickman%27s_Model [Apr 2006]

See also: Goya - Lovecraft

The Colossus (c. 1810-12) - Francisco de Goya

The Colossus (c. 1810-12) - Francisco de Goya

See also: Goya - 1810s - Spain

Los Caprichos

A series of eighty prints that entitled Los Caprichos depicts what Goya called "the innumerable foibles and follies to be found in any civilized society, and from the common prejudices and deceitful practices which custom, ignorance, or self-interest have made usual."

Goya and Jake and Dinos Chapman

The Disasters of War, no. 39: Grande hazaña! Con muertos! (1810-1815) - Goya

Great Deeds Against the Dead (1994) - Jake and Dinos Chapman
image sourced here.

European Gothic: A Spirited Exchange 1760-1960 (2002) - Avril Horner (editor) [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]

Please note the Chapman brother's rendering of Goya's print on the cover of this book.

See entry on the Chapman brothers

Los Caprichos (1797 - 1799) - Francisco Goya

Los Caprichos - Francisco Goya [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]

Reproductions of eighty aquatint plates depicting absurd monsters reflect the artist's views of social vices existing in Spain around the year 1800.

Book Description
Considered Goya’s most brilliant work, this collection combines corrosive satire and exquisite technique to depict 18th-century Spain as a nation of grotesque monsters sprung up in the absence of reason. Captions.

Contemporaries of Goya: Hokusai - William Blake - Jeremy Bentham - Henry Fuseli - Marquis de Sade - Catherine the Great

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