Fransisco De Goya Biography Sample Essay

Biography of Fransisco De Goya

Fransisco De Goya is popularly known as the father of modern art. He has known for his pained royal portraits as well as his great artistic works in the late 1700s and early 1800s. The renowned painter was born on March 30, 1746, in Fuendetodos in Spain. Ha attended as art school as a young teenager before spending some time in Rome Italy where he went to excel in his drawing skills.  In the year 1770, Fransisco began his new assignment at a Spanish royal Court. This was his first paying job as a professional artist (Logan 41). The work by Francisco ranged from commissioned portraits of the nobility to the works he created to criticize the social and political issues that were eminent during his time.

As a son of a guide, Goya lived in the vast terrains of Saragosa as a youth. At the age of 24, he began his painting expedition, as a student of Jose Luzan Martinez. His early learning experience was characterized by imitations of the works of great artists including but not limited to Diego Rodriguez De Silva and Rembrandt van Rijn (Cipriani et al., 16). When Goya later moved to Madrid he joined his brothers, Fransisco, and Ramon at their studio which was followed by an effort to further his studies in Italy. From 1770 he spent time learning classic art. He came to the limelight at a competition held by the Academy of Fine Arts at Parma (Burns-Dans & Elizabeth 30). He did his best to impress the judges who loved hid work though he failed to clinch the top award.

The great artist began to work for Spain’s royal family through the mentorship of the German artist Anton Raphael Mengs. The first work at the place was painted tapestry cartoons. These artworks served as the models for woven tapestries for a factory based in Madrid. Among the paintings were The Parasol which was done in 1777 and The Potter Vendor which was completed in 1779, both of which still feature prominently in the public domain in the current days. Through his great work, Goya was appointed to serve as a painter of the royal court in the year 1779. His ambitions did not stop there and he was able to rise an even receive admission into the Royal Academy of San Fernando (Cipriani et al., 18). He would later receive several commissions from royal circles as a reputable portrait artist. One of his greatest works is The Duke and Duchess of Osuna and their children which clearly illustrated his eye to details (Muller & Priscilla 19). In this art, he was able to capture even the tiniest of details among them the elements of their faces and even clothes.

Goya’s career was affected by his illness in late 1792. The condition completely made him deaf after he suffered from an unknown malady. When he gained his strength shortly, he completely changed his career from commissioned paintings to non-commissioned paintings which included portraits of women (Rendall & Madison 20). He would later serve as the director of the Royal Academy starting1795. Though Goya was considered to be part of the Royal establishment, he did portraits that illustrated the plight of the common Spanish people. In one of his images, Los Caprichos completed in 1799, Goya presented his view on political and social events in Spain. The 80 prints from the collection described the corrupt greedy and repressive manner in which the leaders treated the citizens. In the Spanish Courts, Goya continued to voice his dissatisfaction with the nature of rule which saw him go into exile during the rule of Ferdinand VII (Cipriani et al., 20). Goya spent his remaining life in Bordeaux, France where he died on April 16, 1828.

The Leocadia, Zorilla Painting

The title of the artwork is Goya: Images of Women which is popularly known as Francisco de Goya: La imagen de la Mujer in the Spanish language. The image of women is a collection of Goya’s art about women in his real or imaginary life. The drawings are can be organized into 7 different categories based on the chronology and dates of their drawing. The firsts category are the tapestries and the tapestries cartoons that were painted between the years 1775-1792, this was followed by aristocratic patrons and portraiture in the years 1783 to 1804, then came the gentleman’s paintings that came around 1805, the early drawings (1795-1900), portraits (1800-1816), later prints and drawings (1810 – 1820s) and finally the genre scenes that are represented on canvas and on miniatures (1808-1826) (Logan 41). The drawings by Goya were in the early days commissioned before he could discover his freedom and begin non-commissioned drawings. He used several media and formats among them drawings, etching, miniature, paintings and lithography to present his work in women. The works carried major themes such as intimacy, events, mores, customs, sacred and profane allegories, portraits, witchcraft, and spells. In his collection of Women Images, is the disfigured painting of his work his wife Leocadia, Zorilla painted in 1805 (Muller & Priscilla 100). The woman appears in the portrait which has traditionally been identified as that of Josefa Bayeu. The woman who is the subject of the painting is in black with the mantilla though the face has been disfigured by subsequent retouching to an extent the identification of prominent features is impossible.

The medium is that of oil on canvas with a dimension of about 81 by 56 cm. The woman is painted in black with a mantilla. Mantilla is a lace veil of Spanish origin that is often worn over a woman’s hair and shoulder. The Spanish women were known to wear such attire on most occasions. Though it looked like a burden on their shoulders, it covered their nakedness and therefore was supposed to be part and parcel of their life. The portrait is similar to other women portraits that were also drawn by Goya in the black and the use of mantilla (Logan 40). The use of black is nocturnal and demonstrates the absence of light. Just like many other paintings in black chalk that form part of the prominent Black Paintings, they depict that the day has died and the night is just beginning.

In the year 1824, Goya was threatened by the Spanish monarchy’s anti-liberal political and social stance that made him leave seek exile in France. He was followed in France by his late age wife Leocadia and the son Rosario. The portrait depicts the dark struggle that he endured under the Spanish rule. Goya did the painting in honor of the good hearts of the wife and also demonstrate the role women can play in the struggle for a better society. The mantilla symbolized the burden that the women in Spain had to bear in the fight against the atrocities of the Spanish anarchy.  The artist tries to bring out the concept though it comes out more as a form of belittlement of women in society (Burns-Dans & Elizabeth 59). This makes the portrait more like a failure than a success.

Los Capricos Artwork

The Los Capricos refers to a series of eighty engravings and aquatints of a satirical nature. These paintings are made from a moving and disturbing oil of canvas. The paintings come after the period of short illness that so he loses his sight. These portraits portray a wide varied of themes from religion to prostitution to witchcraft. The images are made from a blend of two prominent techniques mainly etching and aquatint.  The aquatint style gave the images a stark contrast between dark and light colors. The result is a dark and mysterious quality of the artwork. The word Los Caprichos suggests invention and fantasy. The word Caprices and its variants have extensively been used to by classical artists from the period of classical antiquity to the period of humanist renaissance.

Most prominent among his collection is plate 43 which is commonly known as the sleep of reason produces monsters (Logan 45). Goya created the plate between the years 1797 and 1799. The portrait is etching, aquatint, drypoint, and burin just like other portraits in the series. The size is about 20 by 25cm.  The plate depicts the artist lysing asleep with the head on a wooden desk.  He seems also to be having nightmares and visions of owls, bats, assess and giant cats around him and above his head. The artist is depicted as asleep amidst his drawing spree. The owls in his nightmare could symbolize folly while the bats stand for ignorance. The portrait according to many writers was supposed to appear as the frontispiece of the Los capricos series (Burns-Dans & Elizabeth 59). The series describes the demented, corrupt and ripe for ridicule nature of the Spanish society.

The artist seems successful in his attempt to banish harmful, vulgar beliefs and bring out his work as a solid testimony of truth and morality in the society (Muller & Priscilla 106). According to one of his students Klingender, he suggested that the plate described what would happen if faith, selfless devotion, heroism, the search for truth and the passionate love for wisdom can be abandoned by reason. In his case, these good virtues can be transformed into evil negotiations, superstition, bigotry, selfishness, base-flattery, cowardice, heresy-hunting and servility (Rendall & Madison 27).  The plate, therefore, helped Goya in banishing the harmful ideas of the past and ushering in a more rational free age. Goya believed that his art was not just drawn for the sake, but to make a difference. He used his position, as an illustration, to lampoon, satirize and criticize several institutions, practices and common beliefs that were held among people. Goya also targets the pantomime nature of the Spanish society where the highly held notions and practices serve to provide a veneer of respectability and prestige to the corruption underneath (Logan 41). Finally, it exposes the general problem with humanity where we tend to delude ourselves with a series of formalized and socialized dissimulations forgetting the underlying problems.


The works by Francisco De Goya covers a range of themes. Most of the themes are brought out and they still have relevance until date. Through his artworks, Goya was able to articulate the various problems that faced the Spanish society and even the general society. Goya remains one of the greatest painters in the history of the world. Though many critics have been able to bring out the negative sides of his many portraits the positive side outweighs the negative. Furthermore, no one can claim perfection.


Cited Works

Burns-Dans, Elizabeth. “The shadow in the light: The dark romanticism of Francisco de Goya.” (2018).

Cipriani, Gabriele, et al. “Art is long, life is short. Francisco José de Goya y Lucientes (1746–1828), the suffering artist.” Medical hypotheses 117 (2018): 16-20.

Logan, Alec. “Art: Goya, The Portraits: Living History.” The British Journal of General Practice 66.642 (2016): 41.

Marino, Allison P. “Los Caprichos: Allá vá eso and its Supernatural Connection to our Physical World.” The Owl 9.1 (2019).

Muller, Priscilla. Francisco de Goya:(Grove Art Essentials). Oxford University Press, 2016.

Rendall, Madison Tory. Goya Reclaimed: Contemporary Artists’ Appropriation of Francisco de Goya’s Work for a Contemporary Consumption. Diss. 2019.

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