The National Gallery will present ‘Goya: The Portraits’ The exhibition will be the first ever to focus on the portraits by Francisco de Goya y Lucientes, considered Spain’s leading artist in the late eighteenth century and one of the most psychologically revealing painters of all time. The show is set to be a highlight of the autumn of 2015.
The artist was at the height of his powers in 1783, the Count of Floridablanca, a favorite of Charles III of Spain, commissioned Goya to paint his portrait. The artist also became friends with Crown Prince Don Luis, and spent two summers with him, painting portraits of both the Infante and his family. During the 1780s, Goya’s circle of patrons grew to include the Duke and Duchess of Osuna, the King and other notable individuals of the kingdom whom he painted. In 1786, the artist was given a salaried position as painter to Charles III. After the death of Charles III in 1788 and revolution in France in 1789, during the reign of Charles IV, Goya reached his peak of popularity with royalty.
Among the works to be displayed in the National Gallery’s ground-breaking exhibition will be two masterful and deeply moving self-portraits which will be among the important international loans. The work by the great artist was painted in 1793-95, ‘Self-Portrait in the Studio’ and shows Goya backlit against a window, the artist’s features silhouetted against the brilliant white of the sun. After the death of Charles III in 1788 and revolution in France in 1789, during the reign of Charles IV, Goya reached his peak of popularity with royalty. The artist would later be appointed painter to Ferdinand VII – yet during the period in which he painted ‘Self-Portrait in the Studio’ a mysterious illness had recently left him completely deaf.
A quarter of a century later, the artist created ‘Self-Portrait with Doctor Arrieta’ (1820) where he paints himself after another illness, weakly gripping the bedsheet, his grasp on life apparently slipping away while his doctor administers medicine. Yet Goya lived for another eight years, during which he painted his famously bleak ‘Black Paintings’ which, alas, are far too fragile to travel.
Goya: The Portraits – The National Gallery – Oct 7 2015 to Jan 10 2016