- GOYA, Francisco (1746-1828)
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- Loudoun County Public Library - Francisco Goya / McNeese, Tim
Godoy was overthrown and Charles IV abdicated. His successor Ferdinand VII was forced into exile. On May 2 nd , , the revolution broke out in Madrid. The Spanish war of independence lasted five years.
In , after having lost the war and the abdication of Napoleon, Ferdinand VII returned to Spain and commenced a process of severe repression towards the liberals. Goya had a passion for bulls, bull-fighters and bull-fights; perhaps in his youth, he too had taken part in bull-fights. The pictures are impregnated with deadly violence. He was cared for by Dr. Arrieta to whom Goya dedicated a picture Goya was portrayed as a patient, in the arms of his doctor who was giving him some medicine Fig.
Dominating were wide-open mouths and the whites of eye-sockets; the figures, monstrous and tragic, expressing all the desperation of the author. He went first to Paris, then to Bordeaux, where many of his liberal friends lived, amongst whom the painter Delacroix.
He went back to Spain twice more, once to ask the King to accept his resignation as Court Painter His resignation was accepted and the King assigned him a generous pension. Goya died in Bordeaux, on April 16 th , , after an attack of cerebral thrombosis which had occurred 14 days earlier. He was one of the greatest portrait painters.
GOYA, Francisco (1746-1828)
Goya had to please his buyers, and his customers conditioned some of his work, but also when portraying his subjects, he always tended to emphasize their character, their vices hidden by the luxury of their clothes, and to propose the miseries of a society going to ruin. When he became independent, his artistic work was free from restrictions and that was when monsters, witches, scenes of violence, as well as fantasy began to appear, all of which related to the anxiety, worry, and nightmares which were now part of his personality.
Biographers have divided the painting course of Goya into two periods, before and after his illness. The first characterized by joy and light, the second by horror and ghosts. In actual fact, also in the early period, already some of those figures were beginning to appear and were later found to take the form of his nightmares.
The dividing line between these two periods was probably related to his illness. This was followed by a state of depression together with hallucinations, delirium and gradual loss of weight. In April , he returned to Madrid, he was extremely deaf and this state of health was to remain for the rest of his life. The causes of this severe illness have been repeatedly discussed: syphilitic or mercurial encephalopathy, due to anti-syphilitic treatment, the lead contained in the colours that Goya used, or vascular?
We will look, in detail, into the possible causes of the disorders from which he suffered. Three years later, Goya became very ill again, but little else is known. Goya gradually presented with psychological disorders, such as depression and hypochondria, and, like all deaf people, became diffident. It is interesting to observe how the deafness influences the humour of the artist and, therefore, becomes a factor conditioning his works. One significant example of the developing process that Goya was facing, during his lifetime emerges from a comparison between two pictures in which Goya depicts the same place.
The first is festive, full of the joy of life, the second, produced more than thirty years later, is horrendous: the crowd, which is in procession, is made up of men and women singing salms with their mouths wide open, their eyes looking upwards, their faces that look like masks. Some have hypothesized a syphilitic origin, others arteriosclerotic, and yet others blame chronic intoxication from lead or mercury. In our opinion, the three aetiological causes do not exclude one from the other, indeed they probably share the responsibility for the origin and progression of the pathological condition.
But even if infected with syphilis, this alone would offer an explanation only for some of the morbid manifestations from which the artist suffered during part of his life. The neurological disorders may have become more severe due to the iatrogenic effects of the mercurial treatment. At that time, in fact, treatment of syphilis, comprised not only infusions of guaiac and of salsaparilla, but a mercurial ointment was still used which led to effective remission of the disease, but also, with prolonged use, to lesions involving the central nervous system mercurial tremour, depression , as well as the peripheral areas optic neuritis, dizzy syndromes , as well as stomatitis, enterocolitis and renal disorders.
Constant absorption of this metal by the skin or respiratory tract could produce, over a long period of time, a slow intoxication, responsible, in some subjects, for neurological, intestinal and sensorial disorders. The lead contained in the white lead as basic carbonate and in chrome yellow in a chromate form is extremely harmful if taken for several years and the toxicity of some colours has been well-known for a long time. We now know that it is, indeed, lead which is the most important toxic component of these mineral colours and that this is absorbed primarily by the skin on the hands, but also by way of impregnated clothes and also the very bad habit of holding pens in the mouth.
A typical example is lead encephalopathy with fainting fits, hallucinations, delirium and various psychopathological states ranging from simple instability to depression and dementia.
Equally typical are retrocochlear deafness and the dizzy syndrome due to toxic labyrinthopathy or to central lesions, whilst saturnine paralysis of the radial nerve were fairly frequent. Nonetheless, some doubts remain inasmuch as we have no information regarding the presence of lesions in the oral mucosa, of convulsive episodes or of the typical episodes of abdominal colic, which are always present in saturnism. It should also be emphasized that, even taking into consideration the large amounts of white lead used by Goya confirmed by the bills related to the costs of the colours he used , saturnine intoxication is a fairly rare occurrence in painters, indeed this hypothetical diagnosis has been made only in the attempt to offer an explanation for the psychopathological conditions of Correggio and of Van Gogh.
Other categories of workers, in whom contact with the toxic element is much greater or much more pronounced, run even greater risks. The doubts therefore remain and tend to suggest that probably there were more causes, than just the one, responsible for the pathological events that affected this great Spanish artist during part of his life, but that these resulted from a multiple aetiology, from the association of two or more of the above-mentioned factors, since none of these, alone, would offer an unequivocal explanation for all of these symptoms.
The most likely hypothesis would be that in addition to the predisposition to arteriosclerotic lesions other damage was caused by intoxication due to the heavy metals and, perhaps, syphilis infection. There appears to be no reason for the suggestion that Goya was affected by schizofrenia. In particular, it has been stressed that three attacks, or return of the disorder, were followed immediately by a period of apathy and, then, by a phase of frenetic activity.
The 80 prints explored the corruption, greed, and repression that was rampant in the country. Even in his official work, Goya is thought to have cast a critical eye on his subjects. He painted the family of King Charles IV around , which remains one of his most famous works. Some critics have commented that this portrait seemed to be more a caricature than a realist portrait. Goya also used his art record moments of the country's history.
In , France, led by Napoleon Bonaparte, invaded Spain. Napoleon installed his brother Joseph as the country's new leader. While he remained a court painter under Napoleon, Goya created a series of etchings depicting the horrors of war. After Spanish royalty regained the throne in , he then painted "The Third of May," which showed to the true human costs of war.
The work depicted the uprising in Madrid against French forces. Ferdinand reportedly once told Goya that "You deserve to be garroted, but you are a great artist so we forgive you. Despite the personal risks, Goya expressed his dissatisfaction with the Ferdinand's rule in a series of etchings called "Los disparates.
With his grotesque imagery, Goya seemed to illustrate the absurdity of the times. The political climate subsequently became so tense that Goya willingly went into exile in Despite his poor health, Goya thought he might be safer outside of Spain. Goya moved to Bordeaux, France, where he spent the remainder of his life. During this time, he continued to paint. Some of his later works included portraits of friends also living in exile. Goya died on April 16, , in Bordeaux, France. The couple had one child who lived to be an adult, their son Xavier. We strive for accuracy and fairness.
Loudoun County Public Library - Francisco Goya / McNeese, Tim
If you see something that doesn't look right, contact us! Sign up for the Biography newsletter to receive stories about the people who shaped our world and the stories that shaped their lives. Francisco Franco led a successful military rebellion to overthrow Spain's democratic republic in the Spanish Civil War —39 , subsequently establishing an often brutal dictatorship that defined the country for decades.
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