Francisco de Goya - Los Caprichos

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Francisco de Goya
El Sueño de la Razón Produce Monstruos

Francisco de Goya can rightly be registered as one of the three geniuses in Spanish painting i.e. the third master along-side with El Greco and Velasquez. Francisco de Goya produced most of his masterpieces between the 1760s and 1828 and with his works of art he is already the forerunner of the trends and tendencies so typical of the 20th century and it is far from being surprising that he is considered to be the predecessor of modern trends in painting like expressionism and surrealism.

His paintings, etchings, drawings and his graphics can be characterised with their diversity both in their topics and artistic means. This richness in themes leads to a wide variety of topics ranging from joyful festivities through royal portraits to battle scenes and dead bodies. There is a marked shift in his choice of themes and this gradual change can be viewed as an accompanying phenomenon of his physical degradation since the great affliction in his life, his deafness, caused him to turn to themes depicting more and more gloom and despair. His general mood must have become darker and darker in the course of time as it is reflected in his pieces of art. On approaching the end of his life he painted frightening pictures about mad and sick people and about strange and freak figures. The style of these black paintings already shows the signs of expressionism.

Francisco de Goya created a series of eighty print sin 1799 with the title „Los Caprichos”. This series palpably demonstrates Goya’s views on the world and on the whole mankind. This opinion of his is well-illustrated by Linda Simon’s lines quoted here. This series demonstrates „the innumerable foibles and follies to be found in any civilized society, and from the common prejudices and deceitful practices with custom, ignorance, or self-interest have made usual” “Los Caprichos” are undoubtedly connected to Goya’s middle period and this series is interwoven with the satirical literature of Goya’s time. In addition to this connection with literature, it also surfaces how well Goya knew and understood the messages of the English political engravings. The effects of the then fashionable Chinese theatre and shadow play tradition are also tangible. The well-known figures of the contemporary stage wearing masks also appear in Goya’s works in their misshapen forms revealing their deformities. These works of art are etchings and they keep making fun of the nobility and aristocracy of Goya’s time and give a critical, almost accusatory portrait about the members of the clergy and the inquisition. Goya’s works in the field of graphic design including his drawings, etchings and water colours cannot be coupled and associated with any previous painter’s line of artistic approach and they remain unprecedented in Spanish painting until Picasso and Dali emerge. These products were not made to order and Goya depicts a profound social “picture” sometimes with a witty and ironical overtone and sometimes in a tragically revealing way and he provides a true and tragic insight into the everyday life of the longsuffering Spanish people on the turn of the 18th and 19th centuries. Goya as an enlightened thinker saw a fantastic opportunity in the means of painting similarly to his contemporary writers in literature. His sharp social criticism is evidently clear in his works as his literary friends, criticism is also voiced in their written works. His critical approach to his society reflects his way of a lightened thinking. He gives us a detailed picture about the social phenomena in Spain at the very end of the 18th century drawing a sharp contrast between the age of enlightenment and the revolution in France and the obsolete social structure of Spain. He was against the old-fashioned and out...
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