Francisco José de Goya y Lucientes (1746-1828)

Goya was the most important Spanish artist of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. He spanned Rococo to Romanticism, and is today sometimes called the first 'modern' artist.

The son of a master gilder, Goya trained with José Luzán Martínez in Saragossa, where he spent most of his four years copying prints, then a common practice designed to develop mastery in drawing. In 1766 he went to Rome and returned home in 1771 to paint commissions for various churches around Saragossa. He moved to Madrid in 1775 and began making cartoons (preparatory drawings) for the royal tapestry works. By 1799 Goya had become Principal Painter to the King (Charles III of Spain), and the most successful portrait painter in Spain.

After suffering an illness which left him permanently deaf in 1792, Goya began a new phase of his art in works which 'make observations for which there is normally no opportunity in commissioned works which give no scope for fantasy and invention'. These observations dwell in a satirical or critical manner on the darker side of life and are epitomized by his four series of etchings: Los Caprichos (1799), satirising the vices of his times; Los Desastres de la Guerra (1810-13), on the atrocities of the Napoleonic invasion of Spain; the mysterious Proverbios or Disparates ('Follies') of 1816-23, and the Tauromaquia ('Art of Bullfighting', 1816). He died in exile in Bordeaux in 1828.

The British Museum has a very large collection of Goya's prints, with the complete published editions of the four main series.

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