Francisco de Goya y Lucientes, considered to be “the Father of Modern Art,” began his painting career just after the late Baroque period. In expressing his thoughts and feelings frankly, as he did, he became the pioneer of new artistic tendencies which were to come to fruition in the 19th century.


Two trends dominated the art of his contradictory; they actually were not. Together they represented the reaction against previous conceptions of art and the desire for a new form of expression. In order to understand the scope of Goya’s art, and to appreciate the principles which governed his development and tremendous versatility, it is essential to realise that his work extended over a period of more than 60 years, for he continued to draw and paint until his 82nd year.

The importance of this factor is evident between his attitude towards life in his youth, when he accepted the world as it was quite happily, in his manhood when he began to criticise it, and in his old age when he became embittered and disillusioned with people and society. Furthermore, the world changed completely during his lifetime. The society, in which he had achieved a great success disappeared during the Napoleonic war. Long before the end of the 18th century Goya had already turned towards his new ideals and expressed them in his graphic art and in his paintings.

As an artist, Goya was by temperament far removed from the classicals. In a few works he approached Classical style, but in the greater part of his work the Romantic triumphed.

Born in Zaragoza, Spain, he found employment as a young teenager under the mediocre artist José Luzán, from whom he learned to draw and as was customary, copied prints of several masters.

At the age of 17 he went to Madrid. His style was influenced by two painters who were working there. The last of the great Venetian painters—Tiepolo and the rather cold and efficient neo-classical painter—Antonio Raphael Mengs. In 1763 he entered a competition at the Royal Academy of San Fernando, and failed, as he did in the year 1766. In 1770, he want to Rome and survived by living off his works of art.


La maja desnuda (known in English as The Naked (or Nude) Maja is an oil on canvas painting by Francisco Goya (1746–1828), portraying a nude woman reclining on a bed of pillows. It was executed some time between 1797 and 1800, and is sometimes said to be the first clear depiction of female pubic hair in a large Western painting. The painting has been in the Museo del Prado in Madrid since 1910.

Goya created another painting of the same woman identically posed, but clothed, entitled La maja vestida (The Clothed Maja); also in the Prado, it is usually hung next to La maja desnuda. The identity of the model and why the paintings were created are still unknown. Both paintings were first recorded as belonging to the collection of Prime Minister Manuel de Godoy, Duke of Alcudia, and it has been conjectured that the woman depicted was his young mistress. It has also been suggested that the woman was María del Pilar Teresa Cayetana de Silva y Álvarez de Toledo, 13th Duchess of Alba, with whom Goya is rumored to have been romantically involved and did complete known portraits of. However, many scholars have rejected this possibility, including Australian art critic Robert Hughes in his 2003 biography, Goya. Many agree that Pepita Tudó is a more likely candidate. Others believe the woman depicted is actually a composite of several different models.
View of the two paintings side by side

In 1815, the Spanish Inquisition summoned Goya to reveal who commissioned him to create La maja desnuda. If Goya gave an explanation of the painting’s origin to the Inquisition, that account has never surfaced. Two sets of stamps depicting La maja desnuda in commemoration of Goya’s work were privately produced in 1930, and later approved by the Spanish Postal Authority. That same year, the United States government barred and returned any mail bearing the stamps.




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