Francisco de Goya y Lucientes was a famous Spanish printmaker and painter active during the Romantic Era, whose magnificent artworks awarded him the spot of one of the most essential painters in Western art history.
While being regarded as one of the last Old Masters, he is also considered one of the first modern artists; from subjects to style, Francisco de Goya inspired and set the stepping stones for whole generations of artists to come. This article will explore the early life of the Spanish artist and delve into his early works to better understand the development of Francisco Goya art characteristics and development.
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Early Life and Training
The Spanish painter Francisco de Goya was born in March 1746, in the town of Fuendetodos, in the autonomous community of Aragon. When he was only fourteen years old, Goyabegan studying painting under the artist José Luzán and continued with him for the next four years.
Later, he decided to move to Madrid, where he applied twice to the distinguished Real Academia de Bellas Artes of San Fernando, but, sadly, didn’t make the cut. During this period, Goya studied with an artist under the Spanish royalty, the influential Anton Raphael Mengs. However, he was confrontational against him.
Then, artist Francisco Goya decided to move to the cultural capital of Europe, Rome, where he was able to absorb Italian art. Many historians have speculated over his life during this time, but since he was still an unknown artist, information is scarce.
The Sacrifice of Pan (1771)
The Sacrifice of Pan is one of the earliest known works of artist Francisco Goya. It was created during his time in Italy, while he was absorbing more traditional European artistic values. Here, the artist shows his deep interest in mythology, representing an offering to the Greek god Pan. Although the style is still far from Goya’s mature work, we can already notice how the artist used dark and light areas to create dramatic effects and dynamize the composition.
Adoration of the Name of God (1772)
This striking artwork, created in 1772, is a fresco in the ceiling of the beautiful Cathedral-Basilica of Our Lady of the Pillar, situated in the city of Zaragoza. This artwork distinguish itself from other Goya art for its almost drab color palette. It’s almost monochromatic palette doesn’t hinder the beauty of the artwork, however. The composition, the fluid linework, and the few spots of vibrant colors such as white, red, yellow, and blue, result in a dynamic and exciting composition.
The Boar Hunt (1775)
During his early professional career Goya worked for the Royal Tapestry Factory creating cartoons that would serve as base to the creation of tapestries. The making of these tapestries would be supervised by Francisco Bayeu, his brother in law. This beautiful artwork is the earliest Goya tapestry cartoon that survived and is part of a series of cartoons regarding hunting. His tapestry cartoons were the foot in the door for Goya to begin working as a painter for the aristocracy, and later, for the Spanish crown itself under the reign of King Charles III. Indeed, Goya’s tapestries were fundamental for his development as an artist.
Walk in Andalusia (1777)
This 1777 is a good representative of Goya’s early art style. We can notice he still shows a style heavily rooted in Rococo, both on theme and execution. He often depicted people in moments of leisure immersed in bucolic and luminous landscapes; he also displayed a smooth and restrained brushwork. Still, as mentioned before, tonal values were already an element of interest of the Spanish artist. Here, the artist carefully used the contrast between light and darker areas to guide our attention through the canvas.
The Parasol (1777)
The Parasol, created in 1777, is a famous Francisco Goya art. The artwork, which was also later transformed into an intricate tapestry, was hung at the magnificent Royal Palace of El Pardo, in the Spanish capital of Madrid, and is currently residing in the Museo del Prado, the most distinguished museum, in the Iberic country. The couple’s attire, especially the lady’s are inspired by French dress-codes, highlighting the cultural influences of France in Spain.
The Pottery Vendor (1778)
This is another beautiful tapestry cartoon by the Spanish master. Yet again, we see an artwork in the Rococo style, showing apparently wealthy people in leisure time. However, it’s already possible to notice a shift in his style. Compared to the previous artworks analyzed in this article, the vibrant color palette and blues skies gave way to a rather earthy color scheme.
As we can see, although his early style was deeply rooted in the Rococo style, his aesthetics already display elements of his later career. These elements are especially evident for his use of light and dark areas that create dramatic effects. It’s no wonder why Goya became one of the most valued Spanish artists of all time.