Keen to learn but short on time? Find out everything you need to know about the life and work of Francisco Goya in just 50 minutes with this straightforward and engaging guide!
Francisco Goya is one of the most important figures of Spanish art history, alongside icons such as Diego Velásquez and Pablo Picasso. During his lifetime, he established a reputation as a master portraitist and worked as a court painter to the Spanish Crown, but at the same time produced personal works combining social criticism, a pessimistic vision of humanity and fantastic elements. These apparent contradictions are one of the reasons for the enduring fascination he has exerted over spectators and artists alike: his work had a major influence on painters such as Édouard Manet and Eugène Delacroix, and he is widely considered to be a forerunner of the avant-garde movements of the 19th and 20th centuries.
In this book, you will learn about:
• The political and social changes that shook Spain during the 18th century
• Goya’s most important works, including The Nude Maja and The Sleep of Reason Produces Monsters
• The response to Goya’s work and his influence on later artists
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The Art & Literature series from the 50MINUTES collection aims to introduce readers to the figures and movements that have shaped our culture over the centuries. Our guides are written by experts in their field and each feature a full biography, an introduction to the relevant social, political and historical context, and a thorough discussion and analysis of the key works of each artist, writer or movement, making them the ideal starting point for busy readers looking for a quick way to broaden their cultural horizons.
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Francisco Goya is one of Spain’s most important artists, along with illustrious figures such as Diego Velásquez (1599-1660) and Pablo Picasso (1881-1973). He lived through a period of major social and political upheaval, and this challenge to traditional values is expressed in his art. His extensive body of work, featuring oil paintings, murals, etchings, lithographs and drawings, reveals a daring style, an innovate approach to art and a fascinating creative force.
Goya’s life and work were both full of contradictions. As the highest-ranking painter at the Spanish court, he faithfully depicted the ostentatious riches of the Spanish aristocracy. Indeed, his talents as a portraitist were recognised from the beginning of his career, and this royal patronage allowed him to secure commissions from the highest levels of the Spanish nobility later on. However, at the same time he used his personal works (mainly etchings) to denounce social injustice and human weakness. He was influenced in this by the Enlightenment ideals which had reached Spain and were inspiring writers, historians and politicians who wanted to modernise Spanish society. As such, in one of the less enlightened countries of Europe, Goya became a liberal thinker as well as a critical painter. His work, which aims to provide a detailed analysis of human nature, expresses the universality of suffering.
Nowadays, art historians often struggle to classify Goya’s work, as these two sides – court painter and critical witness – resulted in groundbreaking original compositions. The considerable variety of his style also makes attempts at classification difficult.
Goya’s works are fiery and violent, and at times tormented, in terms of both theme and style. This can be explained by the political, ideological, social and economic context that the artist lived through, as this was a very difficult period for Spain.
In the early 19th century, the deeply conservative nation entered a phase of political and social decline, and its people became increasingly poor. On 21 October 1805, the British destroyed the combined Spanish and French fleet at the Battle of Trafalgar. Following this disastrous defeat, Spain lost its status as a maritime superpower, and was also cut off from its American colonies, depriving the country of important markets. In 1806, the Spanish Crown agreed to support Napoleon I (1769-1821) in his invasion of Portugal: French troops were allowed to march through Spain, which was consequently overrun by thousands of soldiers. Two years later, King Charles IV (1748-1819) abdicated in favour of his son Ferdinand VII (1784-1833) and fled to Bayonne in the south of France. Napoleon I then invited Ferdinand VII to Bayonne and persuaded him to give the crown back to his father. After he agreed, the young king was imprisoned. Charles IV then abdicated in favour of Napoleon I, who gave the Spanish throne to his brother Joseph Bonaparte (1768-1844) in June 1808. However, many Spaniards refused to accept their new leader and decided to resist: an insurrection then broke out and spread across most of the country. During the six years that followed, violent conflicts erupted between the supporters of the Spanish monarchy and the afrancesados
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