Francisco José de Goya y Lucientes (30th March 1746 - 16th April 1828) was a Spanish artist considered the last of the old masters and the first of the moderns. He was born in Fuendetodos (Zaragoza). He started his studies in Zaragoza and continued them in Madrid. He travelled to Rome, then he came back to Zaragoza. Goya worked for the Royal Tapestry Factory. In five years he designed 42 patterns to decorate the walls of El Escorial and El Palacio Real del Pardo. The Spanish Royal family gave him work as Chamber painter.
In those years Goya painted portraits for the Spanish nobility. He painted The Majas: The Nude Maja and The Clothed Maja; both pictures, especially the nude one were considered pornographic by the Inquisition and they were hidden away for some time. We do not know who the woman that posed for Goya is, they said she could be either the Duchess of Alba.
One of the best examples of those years is Charles IV and His Family: this picture was not very diplomatic. It was satirical. His wife, Louisa, seems to have the real power, that´s why she´s placed at the centre of the group. The painting is a message of corruption. Goya was not happy about the political situation in Spain and he reflects this in the painting.On the back left corner of the painting we can see Goya.
In 1790 he was very ill; his sight, hearing and mental health were affected and he became introspective. He began to paint sad, violent subjects. He painted Caprichos (1799): aquatint prints where he condemned the Spanish society of the moment. They were very satirical, against superstition, anticlerical, etc., and they had a dark vision of life. His unhappiness was also produced by the French invasion of Spain in 1808. One of his most famous paintings, The Third of May 1808, is about the execution of Spanish men trying to defend their country. To increase dramatism he paid attention to the use of light, intense in the main scene but leaving the rest of the painting in darkness.
After the defeat of the French Goya did not get on well with king Ferdinand VII so he left the Royal Palace and moved to a house called Quinta del sordo where he painted very unusual works on canvas and on the walls of that house. A good example of this is Saturn Devouring His Son. He uses a Greco–Roman mythological scene of god Saturn eating a child to represent all the social problems that Spain was suffering. This painting is one of the 14 in a series known as the Black paintings.
In 1810 Goya painted The Disasters of War: These are aquatint prints that represent scenes from the war, sometimes macabre; full of death and destruction. He moved to France. He spend his last years in Bordeaux where he painted The Milkmaid at Bordeaux (1824).