An influential Spanish master, Goya was known for his graphic depictions of war and expression of inner turmoil. His first training as a painter was at the age of 14 with the artist José Luján and then with the German painter Anton Raphael Mengs (1728 – 1779). Though, it was a Rocky start for the young artist, in conflict with his teacher and also being turned down for admittance into Madrid’s Real Academia de Bellas Artes de San Fernando (Royal Academy of Fine Art).
Goya was not swayed from his artistic journey though, and found some praise in Italy, soon finding work back in Spain. He began studies in Zaragoza with Francisco Bayeu y Subias (1734 – 1795), whose sister Josefa, he would later marry and soon gained entry into the Royal Academy in Madrid. Goya eventually became a favorite painter for Royalty, as such was his position as a court painter for King Charles III (1716 – 1788), his son Charles IV (1748 – 1819) and grandson, King Ferdinand (1784 – 1833). An example of his early portrait work is seen in the Uffizi Gallery in the piece, Maria Teresa de Vallabriga on Horseback.
Goya was part of the era of Romanticism, in the Age of Enlightenment. Like many of his contemporaries, he was influenced by the French Revolution. In 1792, the artist went deaf and isolated himself, painting his renowned series the Caprichos; a scathing collection of 80 works criticizing culture and society of the time. He also painted his deeply personal series of pictures, Fantasy and Invention and Courtyard with Lunatics at this time. He emerged from these dark visions at the turn the century, creating his masterpieces, La Maja desnuda (The Nude Maja) and La Maja Vestida (The Clothed Maja). La Maja Desnuda is considered the first life-sized nude portrait of a female, without an allegorical or mythological context.
Published posthumously, Goya executed a series of etchings in 1810 showing the horrors of war, The Disasters of War, while working for the French court. Among these works he painted more dark inner visions, The Black Paintings, which includes his famous Saturn Devouring His Sons. The painter’s highly personal creations would go on to influence the great painters of the 19th and 20th Centuries, with a vast, profound impact on culture to this very day. He spent his last days in Bordeaux, Paris; dying at the age of 82.