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Self-Portrait, 1799
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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 Around his 40th birthday an illness rendered him deaf, which made him more withdrawn and introspective.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, religious fanaticism and mental illness.

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

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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.
  • Bat Scare: Bats and owls are seen in The Sleep Of Reason Breeds 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 Breeds 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.
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  • Bird People: See Harping on About Harpies below.
  • 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 art works 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: Goya satirised the Spanish Inquisition in his work Inquisition, which shows people under trial. 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, 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.
  • A Date with Rosie Palms: Man Mocked By Two Women shows two women mocking a man who, according to some art historians, seems to be masturbating.
  • 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 colour. 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.
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar:
    • His painting of The Nude Maja shows a woman in a full frontal nude pose without any pretense to allegorical or mythological meaning; some art historians even speculated that it was meant to be pornographic. It's also notable for showing female pubic hair for the first time in Western painting.
    • His portrait of the Spanish king Carlos IV and his family has been observed as a subtle unflattering Take That! to the king and his family members.
  • Gold Tooth: 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.
  • 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 Vuele de Brujas (Witches' Flight) they can fly in the air without the use of brooms.
  • Real Life Writes the Plot: 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.
  • 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 Edouard 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 Naked Maja.
    • The film Goya's Ghosts is about the painter's life, but halfway 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.
    • Peter Gabriel's 1992 song "Fourteen Black Paintings" is based around the Black Paintings, connecting them to his own personal trials and tribulations at the time of recording.
  • 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.
  • Warts and All: Goya was not afraid to 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.

Alternative Title(s): Francisco Goya

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