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Francisco Goya

Goya was born in Fuendetodos, Aragon, Spain, in 1746 to José Benito de Goya y Franque and Gracia de Lucientes y Salvador. He spent his childhood in Fuendetodos, where his family lived in a house bearing the family crest of his mother. His father, who was of Basque origin, earned his living as a gilder. He then relocated to Rome, where in 1771 he won second prize in a painting competition organized by the City of Parma. Later that year, he returned to Zaragoza and painted parts of the cupolas of the Basilica of the Pillar, a cycle of frescoes in the monastic church of the Charterhouse of Aula Dei, and the frescoes of the Sobradiel Palace. He studied with Francisco Bayeu y Subias and his painting began to show signs of the delicate tonalities for which he became famous. Goya painted the Spanish royal family, including Charles IV of Spain and Ferdinand VII. His thematic range extended from merry festivals for tapestry, draft cartoons, to scenes of war and human debasement. This evolution reflects the darkening of his temper. Modern physicians suspect that the lead in his pigments poisoned him and caused his deafness after 1792. Near the end of his life, he became reclusive and produced frightening and obscure paintings of insanity, madness, and fantasy, while the style of the Black Paintings prefigures the expressionist movement. In later life Goya bought a house, called Quinta Del Sordo meaning "Deaf Man's House", and painted many unusual paintings on canvas and on the walls, including references to witchcraft and war. One of these is the famous work Saturn Devouring His Son, which displays a Greco-Roman mythological scene of the god Saturn consuming a child, possibly a reference to Spain's ongoing civil conflicts. The series has been described as "the most essential to our understanding of the human condition in modern times, just as Michelangelo's Sistine ceiling is essential to understanding the tenor of the 16th century.

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