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Creator / Francisco de Goya

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Self-Portrait, 1799

Francisco José de Goya y Lucientes (30 March 1746 – 16 April 1828) was a Spanish painter and graphic artist.

He is famous for making several paintings and drawings that show the time period he lived in, Warts and All. His masterpiece The Third Of May, 1808 is one of the most iconic anti-war statements in art, along with his gruesome series of drawings, Los Desastres De La Guerra (The Disasters Of War), which depicted The Napoleonic Wars that ravaged his country. Around his 40th birthday, an illness rendered him deaf, which made him more withdrawn and introspective. In effect, this made his art Darker and Edgier too, with lots of Nightmare Fuel scenes showing his scorn and fear of war, superstition, and mental illness.

Art critic Robert Hughes made a notable documentary about him, "Goya: Crazy Like A Genius", which gives an interesting insight into his life and art.

Goya's artworks:


Goya's work provides examples of:

  • Accentuate the Negative: Goya suffered from loneliness and depression and many of his paintings are not pleasant to look at.
  • Always Night: Painted 14 Black Paintings, where the scenes all take place in darkness.
  • Artistic Licence – Religion: The painting usually called Saturn Devouring His Son (although not by Goya himself) diverges from the myth in two ways: Saturn devoured his children as infants (unlike the adult figure in the painting), and swallowed them whole, allowing them to be vomited up alive later (unlike the painting, where the large figure is gorily biting chunks off of the smaller one). For this reason, it's been speculated that the painting wasn't actually meant to represent this scene, or was based on it only loosely to represent horrors such as civil war or the Inquisition. Earlier drawings by Goya of the mythological scene stick closer to the story.
  • Bat Scare: Bats and owls are seen in The Sleep of Reason Produces Monsters.
  • Belief Makes You Stupid: Goya was not an atheist, but he despised superstition. One of his most iconic works is The Sleep of Reason Produces Monsters, showing a man symbolizing reasonable thought, fast asleep, while behind him various creepy bats, owls and other monsters emerge out of the darkness. Others have also taken that image to be ambiguous, considering that so many of Goya's later paintings had supernatural subjects. Some believe that Goya is saying that flights of fancy are unreasonable but also the source of art, i.e. artistic work is a form of madness and a "sleep of reason" too.
  • Bird People: In All will fall, a group of winged males circle around a half-woman, half harpy.
  • Biting-the-Hand Humor: Goya's portrait of king Carlos IV and his family are an almost Grotesque Gallery where they appear as pudgy, unattractive people. The Queen is standing in the center of the painting, a subtle hint towards the general consensus at the time that she was the one holding the strings in the palace.
  • Body Horror: Saturn Devouring His Son and The Disasters Of War show a lot of Malevolent Mutilation. Other artworks also show his fascination with deformity.
  • Bowdlerize: Two versions of Maja exist, one where she is nude and another where she is clothed. Some art historians, however, believe this to be a subversion, speculating that the original intention was for the clothed Maja to be placed in front of the nude so that it could be pulled back to reveal the latter as an outlet for sexual titillation.
  • Chiaroscuro: Present in several of the Black Paintings.
  • Cold-Blooded Torture: Depicted several brutal and gruesome torture methods in his Los Desastres De La Guerra drawings.
  • Corrupt Church: In Witches' Sabbath he shows Satan in the form of a goat presiding in silhouette and moonlight over a coven of disfigured, ugly and terrified witches, providing the painting's alternate name, El Gran Macho Cabrío (The Great He-Goat).
  • Crapsack World: His paintings and drawings aren't exactly the happiest portrayals of life and humanity.
  • Creator Cameo: Goya portrayed himself on the family portrait of Carlos IV and his family, as a Shout-Out to Diego Velazquez' Las Meninas.
  • Crucified Hero Shot: The man in the white suit about to be shot on The Third Of May 1808 takes this pose. It's also seen as a parody in that rather than making the figure a martyr or heroic, by differentiating him and making him dominate the frame, the presence of dead bodies on the ground and the numbers next to him takes away any grandeur or sense of him being a heroic martyr, merely making him one of many disposable victims during the war.
  • Darker and Edgier: Compared to other artists before him Goya shows he wasn't afraid to paint controversial images and topics. Near the end of his life, as his deafness made him more isolated and depressed, his work became darker in mood and color. This would culminate in his Black Paintings, a series of fourteen murals (maybe fifteen, if Antonio Brugada's inventory of them is any indication) painted onto the walls of his home depicting various hauntingly dour themes, the most infamous of which being a primeval rendering of Saturn's mass filicide. These works weren't intended for other audiences, and since he never wrote anything about them down, their meaning remains a mystery; most art historians speculate that the Black Paintings were intended to reflect Goya's fear of madness and disdain towards the state of Spanish society in the aftermath of the Napoleonic Wars.
  • Deliberately Monochrome: In his own words: "In art there is no need for colour. Give me a crayon and I will 'paint' your portrait."
  • Disabled Means Helpless: Mentally or physically disabled people on his works are always shown as helpless and pitiful. Considering that Goya was left socially isolated by his own disability (deafness in an age without ample treatment for it), one is not surprised that he would indulge in this trope
  • Eats Babies: Saturn Devouring His Son, as well as the witches in There Is Plenty To Suck (from Los Caprichos)
  • Evil Laugh: He made a lot of drawings where grotesque, ugly faces are laughing with other people's misery and/or embarrassment.
  • Faceless Mooks: The French soldiers on The Third of May 1808 are depicted from behind, hunched over their muskets, their faces invisible, standing in a uniform pose, indistinguishable from each other. They stand in stark contrast to the men in front of the firing squad, whose faces we can see and who all exhibit different reactions in their last moments, be it fear, defiance, devotion or some combination thereof, and therefore stand out as individuals.
  • Fate Worse than Death: The drawing Esto es peor ("This is worse") shows the body of a mutilated body of a Spanish fighter spiked on a tree, surrounded by the corpses of French soldiers.
  • Four Legs Good, Two Legs Better: On his painting The Bewitched Man, a creepy scene takes place where a man believes that he is bewitched and his life depends on keeping a lamp alight. Behind him several donkeys walk on their hind legs.
  • Genre Turning Point: The Third of May 1808, with its deviation from both conventions of Christian art and traditions of more glamorous depictions of war (opting instead to show that War Is Hell in startlingly vivid detail), is widely considered one of many paintings that heralded the end of the "classic" era of art and the start of the "modern" era.
  • God-Eating: Saturn Devouring His Son.
  • Grotesque Gallery: In his later work the faces of the people on the paintings and drawings look more sinister and grotesque, almost animalistic.
  • Hands in Pockets: He charged extra for every single hand he had to paint.
  • Harping on About Harpies: All will fall in his Los Caprichos series shows a group of winged males circle around a half-woman, half harpy. Down below the fallen males are plucked by a group of women, thus providing Book Ends in how both sexes prey upon each other.
  • Long Neck: The largest woman on Hilan delgado (They spin finely).
  • The Mentally Disturbed: Goya had a fear of becoming insane, and a lot of his art shows the folly of mankind and surreal, macabre, and disturbing images, all built around overarching themes of madness and mental anguish.
    • Los Disparates (The Follies) depicts the folly of mankind in all kinds of monstrous characters and figures.
    • His painting Corral de locos shows a yard of a mental institution where a group of insane people are walking, sitting and fighting. Casa The Locos and Interior de cárcel show a scene within an asylum.
  • Monster Clown: Bobalicon (Silly Idiot) in Los Disparates shows a dancing giant drawn from a popular carnival character, transformed into a disturbing phantom with ghostly faces looming up beside him.
  • Nightmare Fuel Station Attendant: His work often shows images directly from your nightmares.
  • Ominous Owl: Seen on his painting The Sleep Of Reason Produces Monsters, along with bats as a visual representation of the artists' nightmares. Another one appears on ¿No hay quién nos desate? (Can't anyone unleash us?) in his Los Caprichos series.
  • Our Giants Are Bigger: The Colossus depicts a giant with his back turned to the viewer, while below him a tiny crowd of people and herds of cattle flee in all directions. He's so huge that he towers over the horizon.
  • Our Demons Are Different: The grotesque big headed animalistic creatures in his Los Caprichos series.
  • Our Goblins Are Different: The hobgoblins in Duendecitos from Los Caprichos
  • Our Witches Are Different: On Vuelo de Brujas (Witches' Flight) they can fly in the air without the use of brooms.
  • Public Execution: The Third of May 1808 depicts many Spanish rebels being shot by a French firing squad during the early stages of the Peninsular War (hundreds were executed this way).
  • Real Life Writes the Plot: He painted many scenes of the society of his day. Los Desastres De La Guerra shows the effects of Napoleon's Peninsular War on the local population. In addition, the Black Paintings are widely believed to be Goya's criticism of Spanish society, of which his views were heavily tainted by the Napoleonic Wars and the consequent government turmoil.
  • Riddle for the Ages: The exact disease Goya suffered, leaving him permanently deaf, is unknown; historians still debate its identity today. Some have argued the disease was purely psychological in nature, some say it was possibly a stroke or series of them and yet another theory blames the lead in Goya's paints for making him sick.
  • Robbing the Dead: One of the drawings in his Los Caprichos series shows a woman trying to get one of the gold teeth from the mouth of a hanged man, covering her face away from him.
  • Royally Screwed Up: His painting of Carlos IV and his family comes across to the modern viewer as if Goya intentionally but subtly showed them at their most unflattering, with an air of tension between each family member.
  • Satan: Appears in the form of a goat in several of his paintings.
  • Self-Deprecation: Goya was always striving to learn and improve his art right to the day he died. One of his last drawings was a caricature of himself as a very old man, hoisted up on canes, with the caption "still learning" ("aun aprendo").
  • Shot at Dawn: The Third Of May 1808.
  • Shout-Out:
    • The Third Of May, 1808 has been imitated by Édouard Manet's The Execution of Emperor Maximilian, as well as Pablo Picasso's Massacre in Korea, about the Korean War.
    • Manet also made his painting Olympia as a homage to The Nude Maja.
    • The film Goya's Ghosts is about the painter's life, but halfway through the story he becomes a case of What Happened to the Mouse?, as the other characters around him become more vital and important to the plot.
    • In Dr. No, James Bond does a Double Take when he sees Goya's Portrait Of The Duke Of Wellington in Dr. No's lair. In 1961, the portrait was stolen in a high-profile story and was still missing at the time the movie was produced, thus implying that the title villain was the culprit.
  • Shrouded in Myth: The paintings and drawings he made later in life were not intended for public exhibition and thus we don't know why he made them, let alone what they mean. Much of the supposed meaning behind them is purely speculation.
  • Spooky Painting: His work still has the ability to shock and disturb audiences.
  • Stubborn Mule: Mules often appear in his work.
  • Surreal Horror: During his Black Period, his work became this.
  • Ugly Guy, Hot Wife: His painting ''The Wedding'' depicts a marriage between a beautiful young woman and a pudgy man with an ape-like face.
  • War Is Hell: Los Desastres De La Guerra (The Horrors of War) are a series of drawings depicting tortures, rapes and executions during the Napoleonic wars in Spain.
    • The Third Of May, 1808 shows an execution of Spanish resistance fighters by French soldiers; it has since become one of the most famous depictions of how horrible war actually is behind its glamorous facade.
    • The Second Of May, 1808, in the meantime, shows the brutality of the Dos de Mayo Uprising, as the madrileños rioted against the French soldiers occupying the city.
  • Warts and All: Goya was not afraid to depict the ugly side of human nature.
  • Wicked Witch and Witch Hunt: Satirized the witch hunts in his lifetime by making a series of very grotesque drawings and paintings of witches' sabbaths.
  • World of Symbolism: Many of his paintings are allegories.

Francisco de Goya in fiction

  • He's the main protagonist of Goya's Ghosts directed by Miloš Forman. Goya was portrayed by Swedish actor Stellan Skarsgård.
  • The 1958 film The Naked Maja focuses on Francisco's romance with Maria Cayetana de Silva (the Duchess of Alba). He was played by American actor Anthony Franciosca
  • Similar to Maja above, Volavérunt is a French-Spanish historical drama about the relationship between Goya and Maria. Goya is played by Jorge Perugorria.
  • Goya or the Hard Way to Enlightenment is an East German film about the painter based on the novel of the same name by Lion Feuchtwanger. Donatas Bantionis portrayed Francisco de Goya.
  • The episode "Tiempo de ilustrados" in the third season of The Ministry of Time had Goya (played by Pedro Casablanc) trying to repaint The Nude Maja after a cult known as Exterminating Angels tried to destroy it.
  • The 2022 horror game, Impasto, has its graphics inspired by the art of Goya. The player character is Goya's grandson, Mariano Goya, who somehow found himself in the world of his grandfather's artworks, with the very last monstrosity encountered being Saturn from Saturn Devouring His Son.
  • Played by Enric Majó in the miniseries Goya (1985).
  • Played by Francisco Rabal and Jose Coronado in the film Goya in Bordeaux.

Alternative Title(s): Francisco Goya