Neoclassicism and Romanticism


(Neoclassicism, Romanticism and Art Styles in 19th century - Art Map)





Francisco de Goya

"Life and Work"





Early Years (1746-1773)


Move to Madrid (1774-1783)


Artist to Nobility (1783-1791)


Crisis and a New Start (1792-1798)


The Sleep of Reason (1797-1799)




The Height of Fame (1799-1807)


Times of War (1808-1818)




The "Black Paintings" (1819-1823)




Exile in France (1824-1828)









Times of War





1808 Uprising of the Spanish people against the despotic regime of Godoy. Start of the excavations at Pompeii in Italy.
1808 Goya travels to Saragossa to sketch ruins.
1808-1809 Napoleonic troops occupy Madrid and take Saragossa.
1810 Begins to record the horrors of war in his etchings.
1811 Joseph Bonaparte awards him the Royal Order of Spain.
1812 Goya's wife Josefa dies. Portrait of the Duke of Wellington.
1813 Leocadia Weiss becomes Goya's companion.
1814 The Third of May, 1808.Goya has to justify his behavior under the French occupation. Portrait of Ferdinand VII.
1814 Napoleon abdicates and is exiled to Elba. Congress of Vienna. Ferdinand VII becomes King of Spain.
1815 Start of a new series of etchings of bullfighting (La Tauromaquia).
1817 Joumey to Andalusia.
1818 The German romantic painter C.D. Friedrich paints Voyager Above a Sea of Clouds.


Francisco de Goya
A Prison Scene

Oil on zinc, 42,9 x 31,7 cm
Bowes Museum, Barnard Castle

In 1808, war interrupted the even tenor of Goya's successful career. Napoleon's troops, on their seemingly unstoppable advance in Europe, suddenly appeared in Madrid, too. The Spanish king was deposed. For five years the Spanish people's struggle for freedom raged against the French occupier, a struggle that was fought with great harshness on both sides. The fighting stopped only after the intervention of English troops under the Duke of Wellington. Yet the new king, Ferdinand VII, did not bring the longed-for freedom, but ruled despotically. During this troubled period Goya became a passionate Spanish patriot - but he was also a supporter of the French Enlightenment. Despite these contradictions, in his professional life he tried to reach an understanding with the changing regimes. Secretly, he was working on prints that represented the brutality of war more savagely than any paintings or drawings had ever done before. His paintings of the Spanish uprising express an angry protest against war and brutality that transcends the war in Spain.


Francisco de Goya
The Second of May, 1808: The Charge of the Mamelukes

Oil on canvas, 266 x 345 cm
Museo del Prado, Madrid



Between Two Camps



Francisco de Goya
Portrait of General Jose Palafox
Oil on canvas 248 x 224 cm
Madrid, Prado

General Palafox led the resistance in Goya's home town of Saragossa. In October 1808 he challenged the artist to paint a picture of the struggle against the French and portray the ruins of the ravaged city.

Francisco de Goya
Because she was a liberal?
Sepia and ink drawing, wash 20.5x14.2 cm
Madrid, Prado

The woman, chained at several points, has been imprisoned, as the inscription indicates, because of her political opinions. Goya here refers to the legalized atrocities under Ferdinand VII, who came to power in 1814. Opponents with liberal ideas were threatened with imprisonment and torture, which is why many of them went into exile.

When Napoleon needed to send his troops to Portugal, he had been granted support and a free passage through Spain by the statesman Manuel Godoy; what Godoy did not realize was that he was delivering his country into French hands. When the French troops marched into Spain in December 1807, the fate of Charles IV's reign was sealed. Napoleon put his brother, Joseph Bonaparte, on the throne. His liberal reforms meant that many intellectuals "collaborated" with the occupiers, but the majority of the Spanish people remained unswervingly loyal to the king.
Revolt broke out throughout the country, and a brutal guerilla war was waged. Everyone fought; even women threw themselves into the struggle.
Goya's behavior was contradictory during this turmoil. He had no hesitation in accepting commissions from Joseph Bonaparte; yet as a patriot he was on the side of the Spanish people. When the Napoleonic troops finally withdrew in 1814, Goya commemorated the outbreak of the resistance in May 18o8 in two large paintings. These two pictures, The Second of May, 1808 and The Third of May, 1808, hung on a rapidly erected triumphal arch when the new Spanish king, Ferdinand VII, was welcomed jubilantly into Madrid. Under the new regime, Goya had to answer for his behavior during the period of occupation, but was soon restored to his position as court painter. But no royal commissions came his way, however. The political circumstances were more oppressive than before, and liberals disappeared into the dungeons of the Inquisition and into the city prisons.
Goya withdrew from the court and followed his own objectives. He portrayed the nightmarish reality of the war and the disillusionment of the post-war years in a series of prints that were later given the title Disasters of War. They were not published in Goya's lifetime.

Francisco de Goya
Portrait of the Duke of Wellington
Oil on canvas
64.3x52.4 cm
London, National Gallery

The Duke of Wellington commanded
the English troops in Spain who, in 1813,
defeated Napoleon's forces.

Francisco de Goya
Casting Bullets in the Sierra
Oil on wood 33x52 cm
Madrid, Palacio Zarzuela

In the mountains by Saragossa, guerilla fighters secretly produced munitions during the war against the French,
even though the possession of weapons was strictly prohibited.
Goya had possibly seen such improvised munitions production in 1808, during his journey through the war-torn countryside.


Francisco de Goya
Un Garrochista



The Disasters of War



Francisco de Goya
And no help came
Disasters of War No. 15
14.1 x 16.8 cm

French soldiers frequently executed rebellious peasants. Goya's composition is radical and decidedly modern, in that he renders visible the anonymity of the killing machine by showing only the barrels of the guns to the right. In the center of the picture stands the completely defenseless condemned man. Goya also adopted a similar composition for his famous The Third of May, 1808.


Hardly anyone saw these prints during Goya's lifetime. It was only to the art historian Bermudez that he sent a complete copy with over 80 trial prints, so that his cultivated friend could correct the inscriptions. It was not until 1863 that the first edition of the series was puhlished under the title Desastres de la Guerra, the Disasters of War.
Goya had given them another title, The Fatal Consequences of the Bloody War in Spain against Bonaparte and other Striking Caprices in 85 Impressions.

Depicting the terrible reality of war stark and unvarnished, Goya showed how war turns men into beasts. He had seen it for himself, when he traveled across the country to Saragossa in 1808. He bought a large number of copper plates and began the etchings in 1810. Since copper was a rare commodity, he cut up some of his old engravings.
In addition to his own experiences, Goya used eyewitness accounts of the horrors committed. It had not been possible to ignore the events of the war, for there were no clear battle lines. Throughout the country underground fighters banded together to attack the French troops. Both sides, occupiers and occupied, butchered their enemies in acts of revenge, and civilians were seldom spared.
Goya's prints are by no means traditional depictions of battle. They show summary shootings, rape, piles of corpses, horrifically mutilated people, hangings, people fleeing in panic, starving, wounded. The perpetrators became the victims and the victims became the perpetrators.
The discordant commentaries to the prints often stress the senselessness of violence, for example Bury them and say nothing, This is not acceptable, No one could know why, It's no good screaming, Cartloads for the cemetery.
Finally, years after the war, Goya added a bitter satirical series against the state and the Church.
Only the final print in the Disasters expressed a timid hope: as light shines from truth, who has taken the form of a lovely woman, her enemies fade away, back into the darkness.

Francisco de Goya
Great deeds! With corpses!
Disasters of War No. 39
Etching 15.7x20.7 cm

Hideously mauled, the corpses of three men have been left on the barren plain. Were these Frenchmen or Spaniards? Goya leaves the question open. He reaches back to the traditional image of the martyrdom of Christian saints, but here there is no hope of redemption in the afterlife. The suffering of these men is meaningless.


Francisco de Goya
And they were as wild beasts
Disasters of War No. 5
Etching and aquatint 15.6x20.8 cm

The war swept away the distinction between civilians and soldiers, and between the roles of men and women. With the courage of their despair, their children in their arms. the women throw themselves upon their opponents. Contemporary sources do report wild attacks by women during battles and skirmishes. Goya dedicated several of the Disasters of War prints to them.


The Third of May, 1808


Francisco de Goya
The Third of May, 1808: The Execution of the Defenders of Madrid

Oil on canvas, 266 x 345 cm
Museo del Prado, Madrid


After the end of the war, Goya approached the government with the "burning desire to immortalize the most remarkable and most heroic deeds or scenes of our fabled uprising against the European tyrants." This was not least intended to demonstrate his loyalty to Spain. Goya started on two large-format paintings and selected as his subjects two key events from the beginning of the Spanish uprising against the French: the revolt of the people of Madrid on May 2,1808;and the execution of the rebels the following morning. The first painting depicts the bloody battle between the rebels and the Mamelukes at the Puerta del Sol as a chaotic mele'e in the tradition of Baroque battlefield paintings. The second painting, depicting the executions, has a much more modern feel for today's observer. Under the black night sky, French soldiers are carrying out the order to shoot at citizens taken from the streets of Madrid. In this act of revenge, any Spaniard caught carrying weapons was to be shot. In some of his etchings from the Disasters of War series, Goya had already worked on similar compositions. In print No. 2 of the series, the two sides in the war stand opposed: the Spaniards fling themselves despairingly with improvised weapons against the well-equipped French. While we see the soldiers from the rear, Goya gives dignity and individuality to the rebels by depicting their faces. This principle of composition is further developed in the painting. Here, the faceless row of soldiers is pushed into a diagonal and the rifle barrels reach forward in parallel lines.


Francisco de Goya
Right or wrong
Disasters of War No. 2


The business of killing is carried out with cold precision. The dramatic lighting heightens the impact of the scene. The light from a large stable lamp falls coldly onto the victim who stands out from the others. The dead man is lying on the ground, arms outstretched, vividly indicating the fate that awaits the rebels behind him. The next victims of the execution are standing in the center of the painting. With arms stretched upwards, the central figure is reminiscent of the crucified Christ, and in fact it is possible to see wounds on the palms of his hands. With this reference, Goya transcends the contemporary framework and shows unequivocably that the horrific murder of defenseless people is a recurring reality. At the same time as this, great dignity is conferred onto the condemned man. The men are depicted in their hopeless situation with special psychological insight. The dramatic posture and gestures of the victims emerging from the darkness confront the observer directly. Nevertheless, Goya's layout places the observer on the same side as the murderers: we are almost looking over their shoulders.


Francisco de Goya
The Third of May, 1808
Oil on canvas
Museo del Prado, Madrid


Execution: Violence as Motif in Modern Art



Goya's modernity

Goya had no followers in his lifetime; in Spain, his painting remained a unique phenomenon. Even in the contemporary art of Europe, in the Classical and Romantic movements, there is hardly anything comparable. The effect Goya had on later generations was therefore all the stronger. His painting constantly inspired artists to use his compositions, adapt them, and take them further. The most famous example of this is his painting The Third of May, 1808. Goya himself used well-known formulae from Christian painting for his work, from religious representations of violence such as the crucifixion of Christ and the killing of St. Sebastian with arrows. Yet something fundamentally new for art was happening in Goya's painting. His free painting technique, his critical, independent viewpoint. and the psychological depth with which he portrayed human states of mind all make him an important precursor of the moderns.


Edouard Manet

The French painter Edouard Manet (1832-1883) saw Goya's painting The Third of May, 1808 in 1865, in the Prado in Madrid. Two years later he was dealing with the theme of execution intensively in his own painting. The reason for this was a sensational event: during the struggle to free Mexico from French domination, the Emperor of Mexico, Maximilian, who had been crowned by Napoleon III in 1867,wasshotby republican forces. Manet created several versions of this theme, which he developed from an outline technique employing strong colors to a static composition in lighter tones. From Goya he adopted the confrontation between the executioners and their victims. But in doing this he heightened the situation by making the already short distance between them even shorter and by representing the precise moment of shooting, the flash and smoke of the discharge being clearly visible. For the soldiers, execution is apparently an everyday event they are standing relaxed in a semi-circle, doing their duty; the officer is already re-loading his weapon. Only the onlookers, who are crowding up behind the wall, are aware that this is an extraordinary situation. Unlike Goya's dramatic painting, Manet's has the effect of a factual record of a historical event. The neutral gray tones and the bright daylight stress the sober atmosphere.


Edouard Manet
The Execution of Emperor Maximilian


Pablo Picasso

Pablo Picasso (1881-1973), who knew both Goya's and Manet's execution paintings, gave a fresh twist to this theme. His picture was painted after World War II, when he was heavily committed to the international peace movement. Originally, Picasso planned the painting as a general symbol of man's inhumanity to man, and only while he was working on it did he give it a concrete reference to the massacre during the Korean War. Only the title gives any reference to an actual event;
the pictorial content itself is very general. Not only are the victims, women and children, completely naked, but so are the soldiers. However, the apparently natural nakedness is deceptive: the men appear robot-like, a dehumanized death machine. Brandishing strange weapons, they are completely gray, which alienates them even more. In its direct appeal for sympathy and indignation, the picture is almost overstated.

Pablo Picasso
Massacre in Korea

Wolf Vostell
Miss America

Wolf Vostell

The German artist Wolf Vostell, who often adopted a position of social criticism in his work, took up the theme of the execution in 1968, during the Vietnam War, in his painting Miss America. His source was the famous documentary photograph of an execution in Vietnam taken by Edward T. Adams, which at the time was distributed worldwide by the media. Provocatively, Vostell contrasted the close-up shot of the execution with the picture of an American beauty queen, thus creating a juxtaposition of brutality and banality often found in modern media.


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