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Francisco Goya Gallery     Prints.     Full biography.
Francisco José de Goya y Lucientes (1746-1828)
By the 1780s Goya was Spain's leading painter, specializing in religious pictures and portraits. He left a ruthlessly penetrating record of his patrons and private expressions of introspection, moral objectivity, and caustic commentary on his times. A 1792 illness left Goya deaf and mentally broken. He turned inward and began painting dark, disturbing, private works. His etchings expressed his distaste for the corrupt, fanatical establishment, particularly the Church, for whom he worked. During the Napoleonic wars, Goya recorded his reactions to the occupying French army’s atrocities. By 1814, the repressive Spanish monarchy was restored and Goya resumed painting the royals, whom he portrayed with at times unflattering frankness.
3rd of MAY 1808
Marquesa de Santiago
Reclining Nude


Reclining Nude, 1824-25
Carbon black and watercolor on ivory
3 1/2 x 3 1/2 in. (8.8 x 8.6 cm)
Ernest Wadsworth Longfellow Fund, 1963 63.1081
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

Goya’s paintings, drawings, and prints—which range from official royal portraits to bitter satire on the foibles and atrocities of contemporary society—reflect the dramatically changing world in which he lived. Near the end of his life, Goya left Spain for France, arriving “deaf, old, clumsy, and weak. . . and so happy and wanting to experience life.” It was during the winter of 1824 that he painted a group of tiny yet extraordinarily innovative paintings on thin sheets of ivory. According to a contemporary description, Goya “blackened the ivory plaque and let fall on it a drop of water which removed part of the black ground as it spread out, tracing random light areas. Goya took advantage of these traces and always turned them into something original and unexpected.”
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