Goya: The Origins of the Modern Temper in Art

By Fred Licht | Go to book overview

4
The Family of
Charles IV

t was through his activity as a portraitist that Goya finally established himself in Madrid and was promoted painter to King Charles IV in 1789. He was now able to give up the onerous commissions for tapestry cartoons and devote himself almost exclusively to portraiture and to the two major religious commissions that have already been discussed. The small paintings that he painted either for the amusement of the Osunas or to satisfy more imperious impulses after his illness of 1794 played a relatively minor role in his work. They became truly important only in retrospect since they were the first experiments in a genre that would ultimately grow into the overwhelming fantasies of the Black Paintings. It is best, therefore, to discuss these works in conjunction with Goya's later work.

The portraits painted before 1800 introduced a witty note of satire into the genre of court portraiture. They also revealed, for the first time, the increasingly isolated nature of human existence in a rapidly changing universe. Here and there one discovers a certain amount of venom, and Goya's underhanded satirization of his sitters goes beyond anything that earlier painters, even Hogarth, had permitted themselves. However, for all the deviations from late Baroque conventions, Goya still remained a product of the Enlightenment. In 1798 he received the culminating accolade as court painter when he was asked to paint a monumental group portrait of the royal family.

The commission coincided with a particularly dramatic moment in Goya's life. He had only recently recovered from the frightful and mysterious disease that had seriously threatened his life and left him permanently and completely deaf. The great series of aquatint etchings, the Caprichos, on which he had banked for increased income, proved to be a politically dangerous and financially unprofitable venture. And the

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Goya: The Origins of the Modern Temper in Art
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Goya - The Origins of the Modern Temper in Art *
  • Contents *
  • List of Illustrations 6
  • Preface 9
  • Goya's Life in Brief 10
  • 1 - The Background 14
  • 2 - Tapestry Cartoons 22
  • 3 - Religious Paintings 46
  • 4 - The Family of Charles IV 67
  • 5 - The Maias 83
  • 6 - The Caprichos 92
  • 7 - The Second and Third of Way 104
  • 8 - The Disasters of War 128
  • 9 - The Black Paintings 159
  • 10 - Occasional Paintings 196
  • 11 - Portraits 218
  • 12 - Proletarian Paintings 257
  • Epilogue 274
  • Index 282
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