Undertaking a career that spanned 60 years, Francisco de Goya is considered the “Father of Modern Art.” He is regarded as one of Spain's greatest painters and printmakers during the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries.
Francisco de Goya y Lucientes was born in the poor village of Fuendetodos, Spain, on March 30, 1746. Here he spent his entire childhood and adolescence.
At the age of 13, de Goya worked under local artist José Luzán. During this time he learned to draw and paint, and practiced by copying the prints of several masters.
At the age of 17 he went to Madrid. He met two painters who would prove to be influential on his style – Tiepolo and Antonio Raphael Mengs.
In the years 1763 and 1766, with confidence in his skill, de Goya entered a competition at the Royal Academy of San Fernando, and failed both times.
In 1770, de Goya decided to relocate. He moved to Rome and survived by living off his works of art.
However, his stay in Rome was short-lived. By the end of 1771, de Goya found himself back in Saragossa.
This decade proved to be a successful one for the artist. In 1771, de Goya received his first official commission – to create the frescoes in the Cathedral of El Pilar. He also married the daughter of a Spanish court artist in 1773. The next year, he received his first royal commission – to paint decorative scenes into woven tapestries. Goya executed over 60 tapestry cartoons between 1775 and 1792, such as Fight at the Cock Inn and The Parasol.
In 1799 he received his highest honor as he was appointed first court painter of Charles IV.
It is around this time that de Goya suffered an illness. Its nature is not well known, but it did cause him temporary paralysis and partial blindness. de Goya was left permanently deaf, and as a result, his works reflected a morbid darkness.
In the early nineteenth century, Spain was undergoing great political and social upheaval. It is during this time that de Goya becomes an embittered and disillusioned man. His bitter feelings towards society are reflected through many of the portraits he completed in the early eighteen hundreds. He often spotlighted his subjects against dark and mysteriously shadowed backgrounds.
He also sought to capture the realism of suffering that was occurring in Spain at the time. As a result, he created one of his most famous works 2 de Mayo de 1808. This time marks his “black paintings” period.
Francisco de Goya’s 60-year career ended the day he died in Bordeaux, France on April 16, 1828. He continued to paint well into his 82nd year of life, earning himself the title of “Father of Modern Art.”