Francisco Goya

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Self-portrait (1795)
The rape of Europa (El rapto de Europa), 1772
La Familia de Carlos IV (Charles IV of Spain and His Family), 1800

Francisco José de Goya y Lucientes (30 March 174616 April 1828) was a Spanish painter and printmaker. He was a court painter to the Spanish Crown and a chronicler of history. His letters to Martín Zapater y Clavería, (1746-1803) a prosperous merchant and Goya's closest friend - spanning some 30 years, are an important private source for Goya's quotes; these letters show him at his most intimate and uninhibited.

Quotes of Goya - chronologically[edit]

Quotes 1779-1790[edit]

The sleep of reason produces monsters.
  • I tell you that I have nothing more to wish for. They were extremely pleased with my pictures, and expressed great satisfaction not only the King, but the Prince as well. Neither I nor my works deserve such recognition.
    • In a letter to his friend Don Martín Zapater, early Jan. 1779 [1] and [2]; as quoted in Francisco Goya, Hugh Stokes, Herbert Jenkins Limited Publishers, London, 1914, p. 110
    • Early in January, 1779, Goya was presented to the King and the heir apparent, and kissed hands. They appreciated his pictures (cartoons), Goya made as designs for the royal tapestry factory, to cover the huge walls of the king's palace [3]
  • But now? well now, now I have no fear of Witches, goblins, ghosts, thugs, Giants, ghouls, scallywags, etc, nor any sort of body.
    • In a letter to his friend Don Martín Zapater [4] and [5], Feb. 1784; as quoted in Goya, A life in Letters, edited and introduced by Sarah Simmons; translations by Philip Troutman, London, Pimlico, 2004
    • The reference to the occult and the world of demons, which then will populate the art of Goya during the 1800's, takes form in a couple of occasions Goya wrote to his friend Martín that he is a painter-demon. [6]
  • As I am working for the public, I must continue to amuse them.
    • In a letter to his friend Don Martín Zapater, c. 1784; taken from Francisco Zapater y Gomez : Goya; Noticias biograficas, Zaragoza, 1868, La Perseverencia, p. 58
  • I have had luck with my St. Bernardino, not only with the experts, but with the public as well. Without any reservation, everyone is on my side. The King expressed his satisfaction before the whole Court.
    • In a letter to his friend Don Martín Zapater, c. 10 December 1784; as quoted in Francisco Goya, Hugh Stokes, Herbert Jenkins Limited Publishers, London, 1914, p. 134-135
    • Ventura Rodriquez, chief of the architects in Madrid was building the church of San Francisco el Grande. Pictures would be required for the seven altars. Goya had chosen for his subject St. Bernardino de Siena, crucifix in hand, preaching from a rock, by the light of a star, to King Alfonso of Aragon and his courtiers. He was selected as one of the painters of the altars.
  • Beloved soulmate...'ll kiss my ass at least seven times if I manage to convince you from the crazy happiness I got from living here [Madrid]... ...the various insects with their deadly weapons, made of needles and penknives, which, if you don't look out and even if you do, will tear away your flesh and your hair as well... ...and you can't find a spot far enough away from them to escape their cruelty. This infection is general in every town...
    • In a letter to his friend Don Martin Zapater, Madrid, 25 Feb. 1785; from: 'Francisco de Goya. MS Letters to Martín Zapater 1774-99', Collection of Prado - published as Cartas a Martín Zapater; ed, X. de Salas & M. Agueda, Madrid 1982 #64, p. 130
    • quote from a heavily coded letter, in which Goya indicates his friend several of his clerical critics who decide about church painting commissions. Goya doesn't mention their names but do call their number - and makes no secret of disliking them
  • I am now Painter to the King with fifteen thousand reales [a year]... ...the King sent out an order to Bayeu and Maella to search out the best two painters that could be found, to paint the cartoons for tapestries. Bayeu proposed his brother, and Maella proposed me. Their advice was put before the king, and the favor was done, and I had no idea of what was happening to me.
    • In a letter to his friend Don Martín Zapater, June 1786; as quoted by Robert Hughes, in: Goya. Borzoi Book - Alfred Knopf, New York, 2003, p. 81
    • Goya was already forty then; the four painters should paint the designs of all the new tapestries for the royal palace; their designs were then woven in the w:Royal Tapestry Factory
  • I have now established an enviable way of living, and if anyone wants anything from me they must come to me.
    • In a letter to his friend Don Martín Zapater, signed and dated Madrid, 1 August 1786, location: Pierpont Morgan Library Dept. of Literary and Historical Manuscripts [7]
    • in June 1786 Goya was appointed painter to the Spanish king Charles III, the most prestigious position for an artist in Spain; the title, as Goya emphasized in this letter, came with a steady income and the charge to produce designs for the royal tapestry factory
  • I haven't heard them [n.d.r. he's talking about some Spanish popular folk songs] and probably never shall because I no longer go to the places where one could hear them, for I have got into my head that I should maintain a certain presence and air for dignity... ...that a man should have, and you can imagine that I'm not very happy about it.
    • from his letter 206, c. 1787; in Goya, A life in Letters, edited and introduced by Sarah Simmons; transl. Philip Troutman, London, Pimlico, 2004
    • Goya understands that the social role he has reached (he is royal painter from 1789) will prevent him from attending places where people sing [8]
  • I had established an enviable scheme of life. I refused to dance attendance in the ante-chambers of the great. If anyone wanted something from me he had to ask. I was much run after, but if the person was not of rank, or a friend, I worked [painted] for nobody.
    • In a letter to his friend Don Martín Zapater, c. 1789; from: Francisco Zapater y Gomez : Goya; Noticias biograficas, Zaragoza, 1868, La Perse Verencia; as quoted in Francisco Goya, Hugh Stokes, Herbert Jenkins Limited Publishers, London, 1914, p. 182

Quotes 1790-1800[edit]

  • My position is entirely different from what the majority of the public imagine.. ..I want a great deal, firstly because my position entails expenditure, and secondly because I like it. Being a very well-known man I cannot reduce my expenses as other people do. I was about to ask for an increase of salary, but the conditions are so unfavorable that I must set the idea aside.
    • In a letter to his friend Martín Zapater, [9] and [10], February, 1790, from Francisco Zapater y Gomez: Goya; Noticias biograficas, Zaragoza, 1868, La Perse Verencia, p. 50
    • Goya is reacting on a request to borrow money, which arouses his quick protest
  • [that] the highly praised handsomeness of my little son had disappeared and in its place was a monstrosity completely covered with pox blisters. Can you imagine how I felt?
    • In a letter to his friend Martín Zapater [11] and [12], n.p. Madrid, 10 November 1790, at [Christies website]
    • The illness (probably chickenpox) of his only surviving son, Francisco Javier, also meant that Goya would be kept from his duties as 'pintor da camara' at the palace, because of forty days quarantine.[13]
  • [T]here are no rules in painting and... ...the oppression, or servile obligation, of making all study or follow the same path is a great impediment for the Young who profess this very difficult art that approaches the divine more than any other.
    • In a report, 1792 which Goya was invited to write to the Academy of San Fernando on the subject of teaching art; as quoted by Robert Hughes, in: Goya. Borzoi Book - Alfred Knopf, New York, 2003, p. 126
    • at the end of 1792 Goya abruptly broke off work on his tapestry designs and left Madrid for the South. In Jan. 1793 he wrote a note: 'had been ill for two months and asked permission to stop designing and go to Sevilla to recuperate'. There are no more letters written by Goya then; no one can say more about this crisis / illness, according to Robert Hughes
  • What a scandal to hear nature deprecated in comparison to Greek statues by one who knows neither one nor the other without acknowledging that the smallest part of Nature confounds and amazes those who know most. What statue or cast of it might there be that is not copied from divine nature?
    • In a report in 1792 - Goya wrote to the Academy of San Fernando, on 'teaching art'; as quoted in Francisco Goya y Licientis, Janis Tomlinson, Phaodon 1999, p. 70
  • My dear soul, I can stand on my own feet, but so poorly that I don't know if my head is on my shoulders. I have no appetite or desire to do anything at all. Only your letters cheer me up – only yours. I don't know what will become of me now that I have lost sight of you; I who idolize you have given up hope that you'll ever glance at these blurred lines and get consolation from them.
    • In a letter to his friend Martín Zapater [14] and [15], March 1793; from: 'Francisco de Goya. MS Letters to Martín Zapater 1774-99', Collection of Prado - published as Cartas a Martín Zapater; ed, X. de Salas & M. Agueda, Madrid 1982, p. 211; as quoted by Robert Hughes, in: Goya. Borzoi Book - Alfred Knopf, New York, 2003, p. 127
    • Goya started to become deaf then, had fainting fits and spells of semi-blindness. From 1793 onward [he was 46] he became functionally deaf, till his death
  • To occupy my imagination, which has been depressed by dwelling on my misfortunes, and to compensate at least in part for some of the considerable expenses I have incurred, I set myself to painting a series of cabinet pictures... ...they depict themes that cannot usually be dealt with in commissioned works, where 'capricho' [whim] and invention do not have much of a role to play. I thought of sending them to the academy...
    • In a letter to his friend Bernardo de Iriarte, deputy of the Royal Academy of San Fernando in Madrid, Jan. 1794; as quoted in 'Goya and Iriarte', in Goya his Life and Work, P. Gassier and J. Wilson, 1971, p. 382
    • cabinet paintings were small portable paintings, which did not need a lot of wall-space and could be moved around at the owner's whim. Goya's famous series 'Caprichos' really begin after physical and probably mental breakdown in 1792. He was 46, and thereafter deaf until his death in 1828
  • [the painting 'Yard with Lunatics' shows] ...a yard with lunatics, and two of them fighting completely naked while their warder beats them, and others in sacks; (it is a scene I witnessed at first hand in Zaragoza).
    • In a letter to his friend Bernardo de Iriarte, 7 Jan, 1794; as quoted by Jane Kromm, in The art of frenzy, 2002, p. 194 [16]
    • The painting 'Yard with Lunatics' (Spanish: Corral de locos) is a small oil-on-tinplate painting completed by Goya between 1793 and 1794; Goya says here that the painting was informed by scenes of institutions he witnessed in his youth in Zaragoza
  • My health has not improved. Often I get so excited that I cannot bear with myself. Then again I become calm, as I am at this present moment of writing, although I am already fatigued. Next Monday, if God permit, I will go to a bull-fight, and I wish you were able to accompany me.
    • In a letter to his friend Zapater, April 23, 1794; in Goya; Noticias biograficas, Francisco Zapater y Gomez, Zaragoza, 1868; first published in 'La Perseverencia', p. 53; as quoted in Francisco Goya, Hugh Stokes, Herbert Jenkins Limited Publishers, London, 1914, p. 203-204
  • The group of sorcerers who form the support for our elegant lady are more for ornament than real use. Some heads are so charged with inflammable gas that they have no need for balloons or sorcerers in order to fly away.
    • a note on an etching-plate, 1795/96; as quoted in Francisco Goya, Hugh Stokes, Herbert Jenkins Limited Publishers, London, 1914, p. 195
    • Plate 61 of 'Los Caprichos' represents a beautiful lady flying with outstretched arms in butterfly fashion, but supported at the feet by three grotesque creatures crouched in the attitude of the carved misers under monkish stalls. Upon a copy of this plate Goya scrawled this note
  • The sleep of reason produces monsters.
  • El sueño de la razón produce monstruos.
    • Caption, plate 43 of Los Caprichos etching and aquatint, 1796-97; Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid [17]
    • ** The 'monsters' in the etching are bats and owls, flying around the sleeper in his dream
  • A bride-to-be, Discreet and penitent, she presents herself to her parents in this guise.
  • Nobia, Discreta y arrenpentida a sus padres se presenta en esta forma.
    • Caption, in the so- called Madrid Album 90: sketch-book of Goya, 1796-97; as quoted by Robert Hughes, in: Goya. Borzoi Book - Alfred Knopf, New York, 2003, p. 173-74
    • caption below a drawing, in brush and India ink – private collection

Goya's announcement about 'Los Caprichos', 6 Febr. 1799[edit]

from: Goya's announcement about the series 'Los Caprichos', 6 Febr. 1799, in 'Diario de Madrid'; as quoted in: Goya, Robert Hughes. Borzoi Book - Alfred Knopf, New York, 2003, p. 181

  • The author [Goya] is convinced that it is as proper for painting to criticize human error and vice as for poetry and prose to do so, although criticism is usually taken to be exclusively the business of literature.
  • He [Goya] has selected from amongst the innumerable foibles and follies to be found in any civilized society, and from the common prejudices and deceitful practices which custom, ignorance or self-interest have made usual...
  • Since most of the subjects depicted in this work are not real, it is not unreasonable to hope that connoisseurs will readily overlook their defects.
  • The author had not followed the precedents of any other artist, nor has he been able to copy Nature itself... ...He who departs from Nature will surely merits high esteem, since he has to put before thee yes of the public forms and poses which have existed previously in the darkness and confusion of an irrational mind...
  • Painting (like poetry) chooses from universals what is most apposite. It brings together in a single imaginery being circumstances and characteristics which occur in nature in many different persons.
    • the announcement in the paper of 6. Feb. 1799 was necessary because Goya was unable to find regular bookshops to sell the Capricho-prints. That year 300 sets were printed, which meant 24.000 impressions - without the misprints and proof-prints.
    • The Caprichos was the name of a serie of eigthy prints that Goya entitled 'Los Caprichos'; Goya made them in a combination of regular etching & aquatint technique. Etching gave lines by scratching with needles in the copper-plate. Aquatint gave fields of flat watercolor wash, a uniform tone composed of tiny grains and speckles rather than lines (as Robert Hughes explains) in the same book, p. 176-177/207-208)

Quotes after 1800[edit]

  • ...the magic of the ambiance. [to capture this - in the fresco which Goya made c. 1798 of Saint Anthony of Padua]
    • biographical notice from Goya's son Javier Goya, quoted by Valentín de Carderera, cited in Goya: The frescoes in San Antonia de la Florida, by Lafuente de Ferrari. Skira, 1955, p. 144, n. 24.
  • I can hardly describe the discord produced by the comparison of the retouched part of the painting and the part left untouched, the former having lost entirely the immediacy and brio of the brushwork and the latter the mastery of sensitive and discerning touches... For it is true that the more one retouches under the pretext of restoration, the more harm one does, and even the artists themselves, were they able to return, would not able to retouch their painting perfectly on account of the necessary change in the hue of pigments over time... No painting by w:Titian should be relined, nor any paintings by a number of other painters... ...and, even when it is possible, the operation is more likely to result in deterioration than in improvement of the painting.
    • from his Letters 263-264. circa 1801; in Goya, A life in Letters, edited and introduced by Sarah Simmons; translations by Philip Troutman, London, Pimlico, 2004
    • Early 1801 - Goya was then First Painter of the Court - the artist is sent to check the results of some restoration operated on works belonging to the Spanish crown. His 263-264 letters reveal the total opposition of Goya against any cleaning or restoration of older paintings
  • Your Excellency, I am in receipt of His Majesty's royal order, which your excellency communicated to me on the 6th inst., accepting the offer of my work, the 'Caprichos' on eighty copper plate engraved with aquafortis by my hand, which I will hand to the Royal Calografia with the lot of prints which I had printed by way of precaution, amounting to two hundred and forty copies of eighty prints, in order not to defraud His Majesty in the least, and for my own satisfaction as to my mode of procedure. I am very grateful for the pension of twelve thousand reals which His Majesty has been pleased to grant to my son [Xavier Goya], for which I offer my best thanks to His Majesty, and to your excellency.. ..I only desire your excellency's orders, and that you may keep well. May God preserve your excellency's valuable life for many years.. ..Your excellency's obedient and grateful servant, Franco de Goya
    • In a letter to the Minister, Don Miguel Cayetano Soler, Madrid, October 9, 1803; as quoted in the 'Gazette des Beaux-Arts', 1860, p. 241, and reproduced in facsimile in Mr. Calvert's monograph, p. 88; also by Valerian von Loga: Francisco de Goya, Berlin, 1903, p. 77
  • Always lines, never forms. Where do they find these lines in Nature? Personally I see only forms that are lit up and forms that are not, planes that advance and planes that recede, relief and depth. My eye never sees outlines or particular features or details... ...My brush should not see better than I do. [Goya, in a recall of an overheard conversation]
    • conversation of c. 1808, in the earliest biography of Goya: Goya, by Laurent Matheron, Schulz et Thuillié, Paris 1858; as quoted by Robert Hughes, in: Goya. Borzoi Book - Alfred Knopf, New York, 2003, p. 176
    • probably not accurate word for word, but according to w:Robert Hughes it rings true in all essentials, of the old Goya, in exile
  • His Excellency Don José Palafox [famous Spanish general, who recaptured Zaragoza fro the French army) called me to go to Zaragoza this week in order to see and examine the ruins of that city, with the intention that I should paint the glories of its inhabitants, something from which I cannot be excused because the glory of my native land [Goya was born in Zaragoza] interests me so much.
    • In a letter c. 1809, to the Secretary of the Academy of San Fernando in Madrid; as quoted by Robert Hughes, in: Goya. Borzoi Book - Alfred Knopf, New York, 2003; p. 282 & note 13
    • Goya gave in this way his excuse he gave the Secretary of the Academy of San Fernando in Madrid, explaining why he could not be at the inauguration of the portrait, Goya had made of king Ferdinand VII, recently
  • 'Fatal consequences of the bloody war against Bonaparte in Spain. And other empathic caprices'
  • 'Fatales consequensias de la sangrienta guerra en Espanã con Buonaparte. Y otros caprichos enfáticos'
    • title of Goya's undated 80 etchings, 1808 - 1814; as quoted by Robert Hughes, in: Goya. Borzoi Book - Alfred Knopf, New York, 2003, p. 272
    • the official title of Goya's series of 80 undated etchings he started to make in 1808 on the Peninsular War between France and Spain (1808-1814); most war activities and cruelties took place in Spain. None of these etchings were printed in Goya's lifetime.
  • Goya in gratitude to his friend Arrieta for the skill and great care with which he saved his [Goya's] life in his acute and dangerous illness, suffered at the end of 1819, at the age of seventy-tree years. He painted this in 1820.
    • inscription by Goya, 1820
    • Goya painted this long inscription in 1820, - in the tradition of the ex-votos in the churches - in the double-portrait, [of his friend, and of Goya himself as the patient], he made of his doctor Eugenio Garciá Arrieta who helped him in 1819 with a severe illness
  • I sent you a lithographic proof that shows a fight of young bulls.. ..and if you found it worthy of distribution, I could send whatever you wish.. ..I once again ask your advice, for I have three others made, of the same size and bullfight subjects.
    • In a letter to Joaquín Ferrer, Bordeaux, End of 1825; as quoted by Robert Hughes, in: Goya. Borzoi Book - Alfred Knopf, New York, 2003, p. 390 & note 8
    • this quote indicates how quickly Goya learned the for him new print method of lithography; the litho-prints here referred became collective known as the 'Bulls of Bordeaux'[18] [19]; and the rarest Goya-prints because they were published in a small edition of one hundred sets by the Bordeaux printer Gaulon.
  • ..As a matter of fact, last winter I was painting on ivory; I've already got a collection of forty studies, but these are original miniatures, of a kind I've never seen before, entirely done with the point of a brush, with details that are closer to the brushwork of Velásquez than to that of Mengs.
  • In a letter to Joaquín Ferrer[20], 20 December 1825; as quoted by Robert Hughes, in: Goya. Borzoi Book - Alfred Knopf, New York, 2003, p. 393
  • Everything you tell me in your last letter, which is to say that to spend more time with me they will give up going to Paris, fills me with the greatest pleasure.. ..I find myself much better, and I hope to be back where I was before.. ..I am happy to be better to receive my most beloved travelers. This improvement I owe to Molina.
    • In his letter to Javier (his only son), from Madrid, Summer of 1827; as quoted by Robert Hughes, in: Goya. Borzoi Book - Alfred Knopf, New York, 2003, p. 401 – note 15

Quotes about Goya - chronologically[edit]

contemporaries of Goya[edit]

  • The first prize for painting has been accorded to the canvas with the device Monies fregit aceto, by Monsieur Paul Borroni. The second prize for painting has been taken by Mr. Francois Goya, Roman, pupil of Mr. Bajeu, painter to the King of Spain. The Academy has noted in the second picture [of Goya] the beautiful management of the brush, and the depth of expression in the face of Hannibal, as well as the individuality and grandeur in the attitude of this general. If Mr. Goya had not been so slight in the composition of the subject, and if his coloring had been more truthful, he would have divided the votes for the first prize.
    • In: 'Moniteur de France', January, 1772, as quoted by Paul Mantz in Gazette des Beaux-Arts, 1860, Vol. VII., p. 216
    • the Royal Academy of Fine Arts of Parma held a public conference for the distribution of prizes. The subject of the painting [for competition] was 'The Conqueror Hannibal looking upon the plains of Italy from the heights of the Alps.'
  • The noises in his head and deafness aren't improving, yet his vision is much better and he is back in control of his balance.
    • quote by a contemporary person, c. 1792-93; as quoted by w:Siri Hustvedt (10 August 2006). 'Mysteries of the Rectangle: Essays on Painting', Princeton Architectural Press, p. 63. ISBN 978-1-56898-618-0.
  • Goya finds it absolutely impossible to paint, as a result of serious illness.
  • The young woman left home as a little girl. She did her apprenticeship in Cádiz, and then came to Madrid where she had a stroke of good luck ('la cayó de lotería' / 'she won the lottery'). She went down to the paseo del Prado where she heard a dirty broken-down old women begging for alms. She sent the old woman away.
    • unknown writer of a manuscript preserved in the Prado museum, written c. 1799-1803; as quoted by Robert Hughes, in: Goya. Borzoi Book - Alfred Knopf, New York, 2003, p.189-190
    • this is an explanatory Prado-text combined to the drawing there - the design for the Capricho-print nr. 16: 'Dios la perdone: y era su madre' / 'God forgive her: and it was her mother' (print of 1796-97), in which a seductive female women is taking her nightly place on the boulevard del Prado when she is accosted by a stooped old woman; it is her own mother who she did not recognize at the moment and has sent her away.
  • All sorts of ugly birds, soldiers, commoners and monks, fly around a lady who is half-hen; they all fall, and the woman hold them down by the wings, make them throw up and pull out their guts.
    • from the 'Ayala-text', c. 1799-1803; as quoted by Robert Hughes, in: Goya. Borzoi Book - Alfred Knopf, New York, 2003, p. 192
    • a describing text about the Capricho-print nr. 19: 'Todos caéran' / 'Everyone will fall', print of 1796-97; the original 'Ayala-text' once belonged to the dramatist Adelardo López de Ayala, but exists only in a version, included in a biography of Goya, Su Tiempo, Su Vida, Sus Obras, by El Conde de la Vinaza, 1887
  • [Goya sought to record] the hatred that he felt fort he enemy; which, being his natural way of feeling, was increased on the [French] invasion of the kingdom of Aragón, his native land, whose immense horror he wished to perpetuate with his brushes.
    • a remark of one of Goya's friends; as quoted by Robert Hughes, in: Goya. Borzoi Book - Alfred Knopf, New York, 2003, p. 282
    • the friend is declaring why Goya made paintings of guerrilla activities – making powder and shot - in the mountains outside Zaragoza, 1810, like in Goya's paintings 'Making powder in the Sierra the Tardienta'. and ['El afilador' / 'The sharpener']
  • [Goya is] in absolute penury [and wants] assistance [of public funds], to perpetuate with his brush the most notable and heroic actions or scenes of our glorious insurrection against the tyrant of Europe [= France]
    • document of the council of regency, 9 March 1814; as quoted by Robert Hughes, in Goya. Borzoi Book - Alfred Knopf, New York, 2003; p. 307
    • probably Goya planned this project, needed as to confirm so his loyalty to the returning Spanish king Fernando who was in exile because of the French occupation. The possible reason? Goya painted during the war-years the portraits of some members of the French king's circles in Madrid, then – the worse enemy of Spain then. In May 1814 an investigation to collaborating court personnel had launched
  • Having to proceed against painters in accordance with rule 11 of the expurgation procedure, and given that Don Francisco de Goya is the author of two of the works [ 'La maja desnuda' and the 'La maja vestida' ]... of them representing a naked woman on a bed... ...and the other a women dressed as a 'maja' on a bed... ...the said Goya [should] be ordered to appear before this tribunal so as to identify them and state whether they are his work, for what reasons he did them, at whose request and what intention guided him.
    • in a court Inquisition document of 1815, written by Dr. Zorilla de Velasco, member of the Secret Chamber of Court Inquisition; as quoted by Robert Hughes, in: Goya. Borzoi Book - Alfred Knopf, New York, 2003, p. 332
    • very probably nothing came of this denunciation, because there has never found documents of a further repression from the Holy Office, neither it has been mentioned by Goya later, who detested the Inquisition.
  • At the moment I am trying to instill in Goya the requisite decorum, humility and devotion, together with a suitable respectable subject, simple yet appropriate composition and proper religious ideas... ...the tender postures and virtuous expressions of the saints must move people to worship them and pray to them... ...You know Goya, and [you] will realize the efforts I have had to make, to instill ideas into him which are so obviously against his grain. I gave him written instructions on how to paint the picture, and made him prepare three or four preliminary sketches. Now at least he is roughing out the full-size painting itself [309 x 177 cm], and I trust it will turn out as I want.
    • in a letter from Juan Ceán Bermúdez, 1817, to a collector friend; as quoted by Robert Hughes, in: Goya. Borzoi Book - Alfred Knopf, New York, 2003, p. 341-342 & note 10
    • about the painting ['Las Santas Justa y Rufina'], Goya is preparing for the cathedral of Sevilla in 1817. This quote illustrates well how the old, independent and stubborn Goya had to be firmly coached, in order to satisfy the cathedral authorities in Sevilla with his painting
  • [Goya arrived] deaf, old, awkward and weak, and without knowing a word of French, [but] he was anxious and happy to see the world.
    • Leandro Moratín, reporting in a letter to his friend abbé Juan Antonio Melón, May 1824; as quoted by Robert Hughes, in: Goya. Borzoi Book - Alfred Knopf, New York, 2003, p. 389
    • Goya left Spain and had arrived in Bordeaux, he was then 78 years old.
  • the artist [Goya] has worked for a long time and with the utmost care, taste, and intelligence on the numerous commissions he has been given; his artistic merit is so unsurpassable that other artists and the general public all extol his work.
    • in a note of June 1826, written by the Duke of Hijar, one of the advisers of the Spanish king Fernando VII; as quoted by Robert Hughes, in: Goya. Borzoi Book - Alfred Knopf, New York, 2003, p. 400
    • as result of this note Goya got a pension of 50.000 reales a year and permission to keep his living in Bordeaux, France
  • Goya is fine [in Bordaux]. He keeps busy with his sketches, he walks, eats, takes his siestas; it seems that right now peace reigns over his heart.
    • In a letter of Leandro Moratín[21], c. July 1826; as quoted by Robert Hughes, in: Goya. Borzoi Book - Alfred Knopf, New York, 2003, p. 400
    • Goya was returning from Spain to Bordeaux where he stayed till his death
  • The artist worked at his lithographs [on stone!] on the easel, the stone placed like a canvas. He manipulated his crayons like brushes and never sharpened them. He remained standing, walking backwards and forwards every other minute to judge his effects. Usually he covered the whole stone with a uniform gray tone and then removed with a scraper those parts which were to appear light: here a head, a figure; there a horse, a bull. Next, the crayon was again employed to strengthen the shadows, the accents, or to indicate the figures and give them movement...
    • quote of the painter Antonio Brugada to Goya's memoirist Laurent Matheron; as quoted by Robert Hughes, in: Goya. Borzoi Book - Alfred Knopf, New York, 2003, p. 391 & note 9
    • Brugada frequently witnessed Goya at work in his studio in Bordeaux c. 1825, with all his eccentricity of method

19th century: 1829 - 1900[edit]

  • ..never was there a less harmonious genius, never a Spanish artist more local [than Goya].
    • Theophile Gautier, 1845 in Voyage en Espagne, ('Tro los Montes'). Paris, 1845. P 127-137
  • if you are an angel go and flatter a person named Moreau, picture dealer, Rue Lafitte, Hotel Lafitte.. ..and try to obtain from this man permission to take a photograph of the [painting] 'Duchess of Alba' (absolutely Goya and absolutely authentic). The replicas (life-size) are in Spain, where Gautier has seen them. In one frame the Duchess is represented in national costume, in the other she is nude, in the same position, on her back. The triviality of the pose adds to the charm of the pictures. If I ever used your slang I might say that the Duchess is a bizarre woman with a wicked look.. ..If you were a very wealthy angel I would advise you to buy these pictures, for the occasion will not repeat itself. Imagine a Bonington, or a gallant and ferocious Deveria. The man who owns them is asking 2,400 francs.. ..He admitted to me that he bought them from Goya's son [Xavier Goya], who had become extraordinarily embarrassed.
    • Charles Baudelaire, in a letter to his friend Felix Nadar, 14 May 1859; from Euvres Posthumes et correspondences inedites, (1887), p. 204; as quoted in Francisco Goya, Hugh Stokes, Herbert Jenkins Limited Publishers, London, 1914, p. 199-200
    • It was generally believed in those years that the woman in the painting 'La maja desnuda' was the duchess of Alba; there has been a special relation between Goya and the duchess
  • The first edition [of Los Capricos ] is usually said to have been issued in 1797, but this is an error based upon the discovery of a sketch for the title-page dated in that year. Isolated proofs were to be seen in 1796, but the whole work was not ready until 1798 or 1799. Goya was slowly printing the two hundred copies in an attic workroom he had specially engaged for the purpose at the corner of the Calle de San Bernardino, but for some while the job was completely set aside. He drew up a draft prospectus which was never published.. ..This draft belonged to Valentin Carderera.
    • Valentin Carderera and Philippe Burty, in 'Francisco Goya, sa vie, ses dessins, et ses eaux-fortes', 'Gazette des Beaux-Arts', September 1., 1863, p. 240; as quoted in Francisco Goya, Hugh Stokes, Herbert Jenkins Limited Publishers, London, 1914, p. 205
  • M. Manet has never seen any Goya's, M. Manet has never seen any El Greco's.. ..that may seem unbelievable to you, but it's the truth. I myself have been filled with wonder and stupefaction at these mysterious coincidences.. ..He's heard so much about his 'pastiches' of Goya, that he is now trying to see some of Goya's paintings.. ..Every time you try to pay Manet a service, I'll be grateful.. ..quote my letter or at least several lines of it. What I'm telling you is the naked truth.
    • w:Charles Baudelaire, in a letter to art-critic w:Théophile Thoré-Bürger, c. 20 June 1864; in Selected Letters of Charles Baudelaire – the Conquest of Solitude, University of Chicago Press, 18 Feb. 1986, p. 203
    • Baudelaire is reacting on Thoré's review, the 'Paris Salon of 1864', in which he accused Manet of making 'pastiches' of the Spanish painters El Greco, Goya and Vélasquez
  • [how Goya's mind] grovelled in a hideous Inferno of its own a disgusting region, horrible without sublimity, shapeless as chaos, foul in colour and 'forlorn of light,' peopled by the vilest abortions that ever came from the brain of a sinner. He surrounded himself, I say, with these abominations, finding in them I know not what devilish satisfaction, and rejoicing, in a manner altogether incomprehensible to us, in the audacity of an art in perfect keeping with its revolting subjects. It is the sober truth to say that, in the whole series of these decorations for his house, Goya appears to have aimed at ugliness as Raphael aimed at beauty.. ..Enough has been said to show that Goya had made himself a den of foulness and abomination, and dwelt therein, with satisfaction to his mind, like a hyena amidst carcasses.
    • P. G. Hamerton, in Goya, London, 1878, first published in the 'Portfolio', p. 123
    • Hamerton is reacting on the so-called 'Dark paintings' of Goya; exhibited in the 'Trocadero' during the Paris Exhibition of 1878; the huge canvases excited varied feelings, then
  • Of all the men he had known in Italy till c 1771, Goya spoke in his old age chiefly of the [French] painter David. For a short while they were in close intimacy.
    • Laurent Matheron, in 'Goya' Madrid, 1890; as quoted by Hugh Stokes, Francisco Goya, Herbert Jenkins Limited Publishers, London, 1914, p 79

20th century and later[edit]

  • Goya, ever ready for an artistic experiment, tried his hand at the comparatively new invention of aquatint. Several of the plates of are in pure aquatint (No. 32 is a fine example[22]), and how cleverly he succeeded is proved in 'A rough night' [= 'A Bad Night' [23]]. A recent historian of this method writes: "Goya raised the combination of etching with aquatint to a position of surpassing merit.. ..He will always remain the master of mixed aquatint engraving, and his work should be carefully studied by all interested in the legitimate scope of aquatint engraving."
    • S. T. Prideaux: 'History of Aquatint' (1909); as quoted in Francisco Goya, Hugh Stokes, Herbert Jenkins Limited Publishers, London, 1914, p. 217
  • Goya was closely studying the Velazquez's portraits [in the Spanish royal palace [24]], and he decided to etch them. In 1778 he completed eleven large etching plates. During the same year he delivered fourteen of the tapestry cartoons for the royal tapestry factory in Madrid, so that his energy must have been terrific. They show no sign of haste, and must have been undertaken as a pleasure. Goya may have received some vague promise of state support. The multiplication of these masterpieces was a patriotic duty, and Godoy did well to buy the plates. But this purchase did not take place until 1793, so that Goya's labour must have had little financial result in 1778.
    • Hugh Stokes, in Francisco Goya, Herbert Jenkins Limited Publishers, London, 1914, p. 118
  • As a painter Goya's reputation was slow in crossing the Pyrenees, and then was chiefly based upon the testimony of the few strangers who had visited Madrid. But when the volumes of 'Los Caprichos' reached Paris, the unchallenged center of European art, these extraordinary works attracted unstinting appreciation, and awoke general curiosity with respect to the personality of the almost unknown Spaniard. Officers attached to the English army quartered in the Peninsula sent copies of 'Los Caprichos' home to London. Later still the book penetrated into Germany. These etchings thus formed the foundation of Goya's cosmopolitan celebrity. 'Los Caprichos' consists of seventy-two plates, which are usually dated 1796-1797.
    • Hugh Stokes, in Francisco Goya, Herbert Jenkins Limited Publishers, London, 1914, p. 202-203
  • Eugene Delacroix copied over fifty of the plates in 'Los Caprichos', with a care and patience, says Charles Yriarte, of which few would consider him capable. The etchings appealed to many of the artists of the French Romantic movement, and some, like Louis Boulanger, borrowed freely from them. Daumier was strongly influenced by their power. Our own banker-poet, Samuel Rogers, added the set to his library. Theophile Gautier was no mediocre critic, and several of the most brilliant pages in his 'Tro los Montes' endeavor to describe the fantastic invention lavished on the plates of 'Los Caprichos', in his 'Voyage en Espagne' [= Tro los Montes]. Paris, 1845. pp. 129-134.
    • Hugh Stokes, in Francisco Goya, Herbert Jenkins Limited Publishers, London, 1914, p. 218
  • With Goya we do not think of the studio or even of the artist at work. We think only of the event. Does this imply that 'The Third of May' is a kind of superior journalism, the record of an incident in which depth of focus is sacrificed to an immediate effect? I am ashamed to say that I once thought so; but the longer I look at this extraordinary picture and at Goya's other works, the more clearly I recognize that I was mistaken.
    • w:Kenneth Clark, in Looking at Pictures. Beacon Press, 1968. p. 123
    • Clark remarked on the painting's radical departure from official history painting, and its singular intensity.
  • Mengs [the official royal painter of the Spanish court] gave Goya official help and encouragement. Tiepolo [famous mural painter then] however, directly influenced his [Goya's] art. It was an odd juxtaposition.. the end of the eighteenth century, two artists more unlike one another fostering the career of a third [young Goya].. ..What Goya recognized in Tiepolo was his abundant appetite for fantasy and caprice.
    • Robert Hughes, in: Goya. Borzoi Book - Alfred Knopf, New York, 2003, p. 73
  • ...and much of his works consists of portraits that, fairly seen, are not in the least derogatory of those who commissioned them. The idea of Goya as an artist naturally 'against' the system is pretty much a modern myth. But it is based on a fundamental truth of his character; he was a man of great and by times heroic independence...
    • quote by Robert Hughes, in: Goya. Borzoi Book, Alfred Knopf, New York, 2003, p. 19
  • He [Goya] once declared that his real masters were Vélasquez, Rembrandt and Nature. Vélasquez of course he knew intimately being surrounded in Madrid... ...He would have known Rembrandt only through prints, since so little work of the Dutch master's painted work has made its way to Spain.
    • quote by Robert Hughes, in: Goya. Borzoi Book - Alfred Knopf, New York, 2003, p. 23
  • [because Goya was] the stepping stone between the Old Masters and the Great Moderns like Cézanne.

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  17. Robert Hughes: in Goya. Borzoi Book - Alfred Knopf, New York, 2003, p. 73