The works of Francisco de Goya y Lucientes, Pablo Picasso and Diego Velazquez are regarded as the three foundations of Spanish art.

Goya was born on 30th March 1746 in Fuendetodos, a village 45 kilometres to the south of Zaragoza. His life story was a faithful reflection of the stormy times in which he lived. He ardently believed in the most advanced ideals of the age. From his youth he shared the beliefs and values of Enlightenment Spaniards, especially those of his Zaragoza and Madrid friends. At the beginning of the 19th century these ideals blossomed into a full scale liberalism.

His first period was notable for its religious painting, a genre he worked in with great success throughout his life. During this period he worked in Zaragoza and its surroundings, where he painted works which show the thrusting originality, technical ability and character of the painter. He also travelled to Italy to study and draw the classics of the Renaissance and Baroque period, styles central to the European tradition of painting.

In 1774 he moved to Madrid. There, under the wing of his brother-in-law Francisco Bayeu, a talented artist working in the Royal Court, he began a successful career as a painter to the Court. Goya designed tapestry cartoons for the Spanish Crown. At the same time he acquired fame as an excellent portrait painter and painted the most important people of the country, including the royal family, and was made Painter to the King.

However, Goya's genius was not limited to painting and portrait work. In 1778, at a relatively early age he had already shown interest in printing and etching techniques and his skill in this field was to establish him as one of the great engravers.

In the years leading up to the French invasion, Goya took up drawing again, he started work on the first of his great series of critical etchings and developed a pictorial style that was very much his own. During this period, he painted and drew mainly for personal satisfaction and pleasure. Free of the servitude to fashion and the Academy style that commissioned work demanded, he produced a series of works of extraordinary modernity.

Worn out by the severity of the absolutist reaction (1814-1820) that followed the War of Independence, Goya left his homeland and went to Bordeaux. There he died late on the night of 15-16th April 1828.

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