The artist cast a critical eye on human behavior and beliefs, portraying scenes of fully, brutality, and superstition.
During the pervasive turbulence of post-Golden Age Spain--an epoch marked by despotic regimes, war, revolution, economic depression, rampant crime, foreign occupation, and the Inquisition--Francisco Jose de Goya y Lucientes focused his uncompromising vision on the volatile passions of the day. Acclaimed the greatest artist of his era, Goya had an intense and prolonged involvement with the Spanish court and the church, while maintaining a stable, domestic personal life that existed in remarkable harmony with the complex world of kings, queens, and clerics in which he worked. A product of the Spanish provinces and something of an outsider by nature, Goya's artistic talents brought him inside the highest echelons of influence. Seizing the opportunities of his contradictory circumstances, he produced art of such searing objectivity and skill that it has inspired succeeding generations of admirers to search, successfully, for new and profound meanings.
The son of a skilled gilder, Goya was born in 1746 in Fuendetodos, near Saragossa in Spain's Aragon region, which was at a great geographic, political, and cultural remove from Madrid, the capital. His earliest work was a reliquary painted for his village church. In Saragossa, he studied with Jose Luzan Martinez, a painter of religious subjects and a censor for the Inquisition.
During this apprenticeship, he befriended the three talented Bayeu brothers--Francisco, Manuel, and Ramon--whose artistic success had preceded Goya's and who would come to figure prominently in his life. Unlike Francisco and Ram6n Bayeu, Goya was denied admission to the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Madrid. Disappointed, but determined, he pursued his studies in Italy, where he absorbed the lessons of Rome's incomparable classical and Renaissance treasures, and won academic and professional approval from the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Parma.
Following Goya's return to Spain in 1771, he married Josefa Bayeu in 1773 and began work in 1775 at the Royal Tapestry Factory in Mandrid, where he produced cartoons (design to be copied on looms) for the grand woven masterpieces commissioned for the royal residences. With guidance from his friend and now brother-in-law, Francisco Bayeu, Goya distinguished himself in this challenging medium. By 1792, he had submitted more than 60 successful designs.
Goya matched his...