Striking and often unforgiving, Goya’s portraits demonstrate his daringly unconventional approach and remarkable skill at capturing the psychology of his sitters
Already 37 when he secured his first important portrait commission from Spain’s Prime Minister, Count Floridablanca, Goya’s reputation grew quickly. Ambitious and proud of his status, he gained patrons from the entire breadth of Spanish society: from the royal family and aristocrats, to intellectuals, politicians and military figures, to his own friends and family.
Deeply affected by his deafness, the result of serious illness in his mid-40s, portraiture remained a means by which Goya could communicate. His approach was unhindered; he was unafraid to reveal what he saw.
Providing penetrating insight into the public and private aspects of his life, ‘Goya: The Portraits’ traces the artist’s development, from his first commissions to more intimate later works painted during his ‘self-imposed exile’ in France in the 1820s – a career that spanned revolution and restoration, war with France, and the cultural upheaval of the Spanish Enlightenment.
A boundary-breaker, and highly regarded by Delacroix, Degas, Manet and Picasso, Goya is one of Spain’s most celebrated painters, yet until now, his story as a portraitist has never been told in an exhibition.
‘Goya: The Portraits’ presents 70 of the artist’s most outstanding works from public and private collections around the world, including paintings, drawings, and miniatures never-before-seen in London.
Image above: Detail from Francisco de Goya, 'The Duchess of Alba', 1797 © Courtesy of The Hispanic Society of America, New York.