Wednesday, 20 November 2013

Francisco Goya

Francisco de Goya y Lucientes (1746 – 1828) was a Spanish painter who was best known while he was alive for his portraiture. Now we know him not for his portraits but for his works that were published towards the end of his life or once he had died. Two of his main works are: a set of 80 etchings that explore and satirise superstitions accross late 18th, early 19th century Spain - 'los caprichos'; and another, later set of 80 odd etchings on 'the disasters of war' which serves as social commentary towards the Peninsular War (1807-14). Because of the time he was alive, he is considered significant in that he saw the passage from the Baroque to Neoclassical phase (old school stuff 1600-1800) to the Romanticism to Fin-de-Siecle phase (beginnings of modernity/ early modernism 1800-1900) (fits in ever so wonderfully with my course!)

Dance of the Majos on the Banks of the Manzanares, 1777
The 'old school' style he was most sympathetic with is probably Rococo looking at this (and neoclassicism at some points later on too). It has all the pastel colours, chirpiness, gayness (in any sense of the word), movement...

The Crockery Vendor, 1779
Again, Rococococococo. I've got 'flirtation' written in my notes which is also a big part of Rococo that I haven't mentioned much! You always get the idea that women are actually ENJOYING themselves around men and actively engaging in spending time with them and perhaps even flirting.

Witches in the Air, 1797-98
One of his commentaries of social folly. Right up until the 19th century Spanish people lived in fear of some really bizarre superstitions. I'm not talking about avoiding three drains or walking around ladders - this was about voodoo, witches, black magic etc. Although this intends to make superstitions look silly, we also get a sense that Goya was deeply fascinated with this stuff. The clothes these lot are wearing are similar to what people damned in the inquisition wore (which, by the way, was the same line of witch hunting that had ended centuries before in other countries in Europe! they seriously hung on to these superstitions)

Self-Portrait in the Workshop, 1790-95
He shows himself solely as a painter, not intellectual or pretentious. He has an intense gaze and as ever people enjoy reading far too much meaning into painting. His unreadable expression is supposedly meant to look forward to his future breakdown. I think that is unlikely. As I said, it is difficult to read but if I was going to guess then I'd guess that his face is meant to be mid eye-roll saying something like 'what the fuck are these lot like?'

Yard of a Madhouse, 1794
He's beginning to look away from Rococo and the enlightened world of the Spanish court (the court wasn't so superstitious at least) to the world of his imagination - which happens to be influenced by a lot of dark immagery.

 Portrait of the Dutches of Alba, 1797
This woman here is a) supposedly the woman he loved and b) supposedly writing his name in the sand. Is he describing his social status? or how the woman he loves makes him feel because of the inevitable unrequited love?

As Far Back as his Grandfather, 1797-8  (etching and aquatint) (los Caprichos)
Taking the piss out of aristocrats. He's insinuating that they'd hang on to their right to be rich and powerful because their ancestors may happen to have been the second-cousin-twice-removed of some Earl or Duke somewhere or rather.
Out Hunting for Teeth!, 1797-8  (etching and aquatint) (los Caprichos)
Satirising popular superstition that if you have a toothache, you can cure it by taking the tooth of a dead person!

Gaspar Melchor de Jovellanos, 1798
Typical portrait of the enlightened man at his desk. He appears fed - up yet consolidates his intelligence with his notebook in his hand. He shows that men of enlightenment can have feelings but not let those feelings consume them. Looks more Venetian than French neoclassicism.

The Chinchillas, 1799  (etching and aquatint)  (Los Caprichos)
The mans ears are padlocked and he is being spoonfed by a donkey. The men are clearly those who helped carry out the execution of so-called 'witches' because they have the coats of the executioners on; and the donkey is perhaps the ruling class of whom told them to do so, via some sort of brain-washing.

Majas on a Balcony, 1800
How creepy are the men in the background?! they are symbolic of the protectors of virtue. They appear extremely sinister!

The Colossus, 1808
This is a personification of war - a giant colossus destroying everything in it's path - unsurprisingly it was painted during the Peninsular war.

The Executioners and Defenders of Madrid, 1808
Or otherwise, 'the Third of May'. This image has influenced the likes of Guernica by Picasso and Vietnam II by Leon Golub. It has remained so memorable throughout the years because of the fact that the executioners are anonymous. To feel as if we've appreciated a scene such as this most of us like to face the evil in the eye and overcome it. Here, we can't! The fact that so many modern painters have referenced it tells us that war and punishment continues to be a faceless crime - but as we can see here - certainly not victimless.

Que Coraje, 1810-1815 (etching and aquatint) (disasters of war)
How Courageous! Shes come out of hiding, into harms way, to perhaps re-align the cannon or something. A nice portrayal of women. Yay.

What More Can One Do? 1810-1815 (etching and aquatint) (disasters of war)
There were EIGHTY-THREE of these, he was clearly passionate about the subject. The French were said to castrate men and rape women... A transitional piece from englightenment to romanticism.

This is Bad, 1810-15 (etching and aquatint) (disasters of war)
This, curiously, is a defence on Goya's behalf towards the clergy. Although he didn't have much time for the church he did think attacking one was bad.

This is Worse, 1810-1815 (etching and aquatint) (disasters of war)
But, of course, this is a worse fate than being stabbed! This is so so so so creepy because the bloke, surely, must be dead - but he's doing that creepy horror film turn of his head thing! yuck.

 The Inquisition Tribunal, 1812-19
Here he's making a point that although the French had been defeated, this stuff was still going on - so what was the point!?

Nothing, the Event Will Tell, (etching and aquatint) (disasters of war), 1812-20

Saturn Devouring One of his Children, 1819-23
I suppose this is meant to portray how the Spanish could kill their own, despite having just gone through a horrendous war. On the other hand, Saturn was also known as Chronos. Chronos castrated his own father, Uranus. Perhaps that is another reference to the war.

A Pilgrimage to San Isidro, 1820
Tortured faces in extreme despair. Some assume this is an extension of his inner troubles but then some of his paintings at this time were normal.


Finally I've reached the end of the course notes and arrived at Neoclassical art, yay. As with Neoclassicism architecture, Neoclassical painting and sculpture arose alongside the Age of Enlightenment. This course is then continued chronologically by Romanticism to Fin-de-Siecle which I've also covered. So, this movement here is the very movement responsible for the stubborn Classicism that existed beside romanticism, realism, impressionism and post impressionism in the 19th century...

Belisarius Receiving Alms, 1781
Painting became less 'pretty' after rococo and far more serious. Even the architecture in the background is plain. The composition of bodies are narrow and close. No underhand jokes or puns like Rococo.

Andromache Mourning Hector, 1783
The most admired sculpture around this time was the Apollo Belvedere, a skinny untoned man. The return to classicism meant a return to big and muscly men a la michelangelo.

Portrait of Antoine-Laurent & Marie-Anne Lavoisier, 1788
This is the clever man who discovered nitrogen and hydrogen. An enlightened portrait through and through!

The Tennis Court Oath, 1791
This was displayed by David's Oath of the Horatii (which I've spoken about so much in the past that it makes me want to chew my hand off). This shows a scene before a revolution and the purpose of the Horatii Oath beside it (three brothers ready to fight for Rome) shows that one must be faithful and stoic for a revolution to work. The Horatii brothers serve almost like a precursor to the story told in this below:

Death of Marat, 1793
Marat was a radical who opposed to sciency things and wanted a chemist dead. He was then executed.

The Intervention of the Sabine Woman, 1799
Just as the Sabines and Romans made peace; so should the moderate and radical factions in France. Shows the slowly changing roles of women too, as oppossed to being portrayed as either a) naked or b) disloyal or c) crazy she's shown to be the peacemaker.

Bonaparte, Calm on a Fiery Steed, Crossing the Alps, 1801
As I said, classicism was knocking about at the same time as romanticism - you can see that on this occasion the two styles have met in the middle.

Consecration of the Emperor Napoleon I, 1805-7
This episode was considered an outrage. Napoleon was considered a betrayal to the revolution and angered many. He took the crown from the Pope and crowned himself. This has a slight more medieval look towards it - maybe on purpose as a reference to Napoleon's medieval actions!

Napoleon in his Study, 1812
Some propaganda for good measure. Shows napoleon as a down to earth man - noticeably without any crown or reference to his consecration.

Ingres, Napoleon on his Imperial Throne, 1806
Ingres, on the other hand, went EXTREMELY far with the whole 'emperor' thing that even those who admired him weren't keen.

Antonio Canova, Cupid and Psyche, 1786-93
His early work were very feminine having been influenced by rococo sculpture. Although, it didn't have the same sensuality that Bernini's works had.

Tomb of Pope Clement XIII, 1792
No dramatic movement, more severe with idealised and smooth forms.

Tomb of Dutchess Maria Cristina od Saxony-Teschen 1798-1805
Quoting a Roman-Pagan monumentl and things are getting increasingly more classical.

Paolina Borghese as Venus Victrix, 1804-08
The pose is undoubtedly classical as is the bed she's laying on.

Theseus and Centaur, 1804-19
Sense of violence which is arguably a remnant of Baroque/Rococo however it is without a sense of movement and 'upwards thrust'. Sculptors were re-finding their obsession for sculpted bodies (very literally).

The Three Graces, 1814-17

George Washington, 1821
The height of Enlightenment sculpture perhaps - not in terms of style as things got pretty samey from quite early on - but because George Washington was considered the first 'enlightened' law maker as the first president of the new world and was portrayed as such with Roman clothes on.

Neoclassical 18th Century Architecture

The Age of Enlightenment was a movement that began in the late 17th century and ran through 18th century Europe. People began to appreciate the likes of Galileo (largely posthumously) and the period was dominated by the ethos that the human race are great and intelligent. The beginning of this period artistically was dominated by the Baroque and Rococo although as scientific innovations and a new age of philosophy sank in, neoclassicism began its rise to the top. The visual equivalent to the age of reason surely could only be classicism, the style that accompanied the rise of advanced civilisations in the past (Roman and Greek!).

J. G Soufflot, Ste. Genevieve (now the Pantheon), 1757-89
Usually through the ages England have been lagging behind. This time however, we ACTUALLY influenced French architecture! The dome is an obvious reference to St. Pauls in London which had been finished in 1720. The idea of 'movement' in Baroque and Rococo architecture has miraculously dissapeared. The way in which the two styles before had pediments, pilasters, columns and other features invading one another's space, neoclassicism reverts back to strong, unmoving facades where everything has it's own place.

William Kent, Holkham Hall, 1734-64
This has neoclassical feature in the portico entrance. I can only imagine that was the latest part to be constructed (which would make sense in the 1760's). Other than that though it had much Venetian influence from the Palladian movement in the early 16th century and even Elizabethan influence (look at Hardwick Hall below, 1590-97)

I really do love this place so much that I tried to make a sims version of it (had to make changes though because my sims weren't too keen what is life!!!):

Robert Adam, Osterley House, (I visited it a while ago and did a post about it here)

Syon House, 1761-68
This is the hall to the house. You can see a Dying Gaul statue and an Apollo Belvedere statue. He apparently was first and foremost a neoclassical architect (as is very clear below), however he was also an interior designer. It may not be obvious here, but in the rooms he 'completely designed' (as in furniture, wallpaper and architecture) it is. They're a lot more colourful and prettier (in my opinion). Although quoting classical architecture, he tries his hand at making little alterations and claims "fidelity to the spirit of the ancients' - implying that if the ancients were here now, they'd probably alter their language too. It is most notable in the half domes with a coffered celining (you'd think a dome would be a dome, as in, 2 halves) and the columns. He's tried to create somekind of 'british order'.  I think the base of his alterations were made on a column of the Ionic order, with the fluted pilasters and a base. However, there are no volutes to make it distinctly Ionic and the echinus-abacus ratio is too wrong to be Doric. The added touch of a coloured echinus is different too.

Kedleston Hall, 1759-65
The base of the design is on that of a triumphal arch - look at the middle area with three clear subdivisions of space.

William Chambers, Somerset House, 1775-1801
Has a look of St. Pauls (especially the cupola) and by extension the Pantheon, too.

Sir John Soane, Bank of England, 1790, 1833
Although this is a sketch of it and not a photograph, the architects' sketches tell us a lot about the architect. The way Soane has coloured the whole design in a very pale colour, and left essence of intruding light, the whole imagery becomes Romantic and sublime.

Ettiene-Louis Boullee, Newton's Cenitaph, 1785
A brilliant way to remember an incredibly talented mathmatician is to build him a massive sphere? Considered mathematically perfect, just like Newton... ??

Project for the Royal Library, 1785
Here we see the beginnings of train station architecture, it looks forward to the gigantic basilica type railway stations that begin to pop up in the 19th century.

William Thornton, Benjamin Latrobe, US Capitol Building, 1793
Again there is clear influence from St. Pauls, St. Peter's, the French Pantheon....