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Francisco Goya : The Bingham Bequest to The Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY

In this section for D’s Art Takes, we pick one artist to showcase their work and creative journey so far. Today, we look at the Spanish artist Francisco Goya.

Francisco Goya

What I find fascinating about the Bingham bequest to the MET, is that along with multiple artworks, two very key works of art were also donated – two portraits by Goya. The first is Don Ignacio Garcini y Queralt (1752-1825), Brigadier of Engineers, and the second is Doña Josefa de Castilla Portugal y van Asbrock de Garcini (1775- about 1850).

Goya painted both portraits in 1804 – which is intriguing since he was already deaf at this point, having lost his hearing due to an undiagnosed illness between the years 1792-1793. He had become withdrawn right after the deafness had set-in, however his most professionally acclaimed period began in 1799( when he was appointed as ‘first court painter’ in the Spanish Royal Court of King Charles IV) , and went on till 1808 ( The same year that King Charles IV abdicated due to the pressure from his son – Ferdinand VII’s supporters) . These portraits emerge bang in the middle of that “successful” time-frame, in 1804 and give us a palette and treatment by Goya that hasn’t been tarnished, or rather darkened by Napolean’s invasion and then occupation of Spain from 1808 through to 1814. The brutalities of war with the French and then the merciless rule of Ferdinand VII – where he led by instilling fear in the masses by taking away their constitution and re-instating the Inquisition, Goya and his art were never to be the same. Have a look at these portraits and compare them with his later work ( also displayed below), and I am sure you would agree – that the difference is stark.

Don Ignacio Garcini y Queralt (1770-1825), Brigadier of Engineers by Francisco Goya (1804) image credit
Doña Josefa de Castilla Portugal y van Asbrock de Garcini (1775- about 1850) by Francisco Goya (1804) image credit :

There is a gentleness in these depictions which changes towards a darker tonality as the years go by. Goya is a master at capturing light on his canvases, this does not change, especially with the court and royal paintings he continues to produce under the reign of Ferdinand VII, however his treatment of the Royals, the setting and subtle hints within the canvas all have led to some art-historians to note this change in Goya’s works. For me the change is not in technique as much as the ’emotive-quality’ of the work has changed, it interacts with the viewer in a nuanced and subtle manner.

For Ananlysis and Comaprrison I present to you the two paintings  The Second of May 1808  and The Third of May 1808 . Both paintings are housed and on-view at the  Museo del Prado, Madrid,

The Second of May 1808, Goya image credit :


The Third of May 1808, Goya image credit :


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