Francisco Goya (1746-1828) was one of the most famous painters in Spain, a classic example of the Romantic school, bridging the Old Masters and the modernists. As the court painter to the Spanish Crown, Goya’s work depicted the royal family at a time when Spain was transforming. As an artist, he had a lasting influence on such followers as Manet and Picasso.
Goya was born in the Aragon region of Spain, the son of a gilder, one who applied gold leaf to objects. He studied painting in Madrid before moving to Rome in 1771 briefly. After returning to Spain, he was commissioned in 1783 to paint the portrait of the Count of Floridablanca, who was close to King Charles III. Goya then spent several summers painting the Infante and his family. When Charles III died in 1788, Goya became the official court painter to Charles IV, reaching the height of his fame as a painter.
In 1808, Napoleon’s French forces invaded Spain, installing Joseph I, Napoleon’s brother, on the throne. Goya officially kept neutral, but was commissioned for man works depicting the new regime. Perhaps his most famous work, The Third of May 1808, was his reaction to the wars. An illness in 1793 had left him deaf, and by 1819 he sought to isolate himself from the world, where he created a series of introspective works known as the Black Paintings. Goya left Spain for Bordeaux in 1824, where he died following a stroke in 1828. His remains were later reburied in Madrid.