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Francisco de Goya

Francisco de Goya was certainly a painter with a difference.

He was well known for his dark colors and paintings and also for never trying to make someone look better when he painted them…he always painted them exactly as he saw them!

Some people didn’t really like this.

Read on for some interesting facts about this interesting painter.

Francisco_de_Goya facts

Early Life

Francisco de Goya was born in Aragón, Spain, on March 30, 1746.

His dad was a guilder, and his family was middle class so they didn’t have a whole load of money but they were comfortable.

At the age of 14, he became an apprentice to José Luzán, another Spanish painter, but he wasn’t with him for long as the family decided to move to Madrid.

professor presenting

In Madrid he studied with Anton Raphael Mengs, and spent a few years working with him. He failed all his exams with Mengs unfortunately! Ah, that’s a bit sad.

He applied to the Royal Academy of Art in 1763, but they said no way to him, based on the fact that he didn’t have enough experience. He applied again in 1766, but was rejected again for the same reason.

His Life as an Artist 

Goya painted his first work of art in the late 1760’s at the Basilica of the Pillar in Zaragoza, Spain.

He was living there at the time, and they just needed a few artists to help finish the job they had been working on for some time, so he was called in to help out!

On July 25, 1773, Francisco married Josefa. She was a niece to one of the people at the Royal Academy of Art. Goya reapplied again just after their honeymoon, and was accepted in 1775.


He then went to work for the Royal Tapestry Workshop. The tapestries he designed became some of the best around, and he started doing them for people who wanted tapestries in their homes.

In 1783, Goya got his first big break. He had to paint a portrait of Count Floridablanca, which all the rich and famous people just loved.

He was asked to do more portraits, and in 1786, at the age of 40, he was appointed painter to King Charles III and then became court painter for King Charles IV in 1789.

Wow, he sure started to get noticed!

During 1792, Goya got a disease called cholera, and it left him deaf! How sad is that?


Because of this he never went out or did anything, except for doing his duty as the court painter.

He started to etch and printed his Caprichos series. The most famous one is ‘The Sleep of Reason Produces Monsters’.

It’s an etching of a boy with his face in his arms, and a giant winged monster flying behind him. All his etchings had a dark, eerie feeling to them due to a certain process he used.

de Goya - the sleep of reason produces monsters

Francisco the Court Painter

He got another really big break in 1799, when he was given the position of first court painter. He received a salary of 50,000 reales, and 500 ducats.

The next year, he painted one of his most famous paintings, ‘Charles IV of Spain and His Family’.

The picture is of the Royal family, but being Goya he painted just what he saw and rather unfortunately they were not very good looking.

The Grandmother in the back is shown with her huge birth mark, which covered most of her face. Charles IV is painted as the big man he was, and his wife looks like a toad with black hair.


Surprisingly, after producing this ‘ugly’ painting he was still kept on as court painter!

In 1814, he painted his most famous painting; ‘The Third of May 1808’. In it, soldiers are shooting innocent people – all men – with the town’s Catholic Church behind them.

This was based on a true story, when Napoleon had his soldiers come to Spain, and kill townsfolk, to try and force them to let him rule.

Napoleon failed in the end, luckily and this painting was to remember the event. How awful!

Second of May, 1808

Not long after, Goya started what he called the ‘Black paintings.’ His most famous, Saturn Devouring One of his Children, is painted on his living room walls.

During this time most of his paintings looked really scary and frightening.

He moved to Paris in 1824, to try to get away from Spain, but returned in 1826.

He got sick and moved to Bordeaux, France, where he died in 1828, at the age of 82.

Wow, he certainly had quite an interesting life didn’t he? Now you’ve got all the facts you could ever need about Francisco de Goya.

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