Kinds of self-portraits
painted by Goya

The painter can always resort to his own body and face as the most economical and easily available model. With the simple resource of a mirror, he can practise as many different techniques, as often as he wants. The types of self-portrait known of in European painting (all of them used by Goya) are:

  1. The painter, with a greater or lesser attempt at pretence is present in the work. In the painting Sermon of San Bernardino de Siena, commissioned by the church of San Francisco el Grande in Madrid, Goya is clearly visible amongst the courtiers who are listening to the Saint.
  2. The painting in which the artist is seen at work. The example amongst Goya's work which most clearly demonstrates this type is the small painting Goya in his studio(1790-1795), kept in the Real Academia de Bellas Artes de San Francisco in Madrid. The full figure can be seen, elegantly dressed, in the process of painting a large canvas and looking at the model, who occupies the position of the viewer.
  3. The self portrait without pretext. The artist uses himself as the subject. The painting also serves to leave a record of the painter's physical, psychological or emotional state at that time. In some cases the painting may be a gift for someone close to the painter. The painter becomes an object to be painted, as if he/she were just one more subject for study. The self-portrait in the Academia de San Francisco (1815), painted when Goya was 69, shows a bust of the artist, inclined to the left of the viewer, looking aside to find his reflection in the mirror.

See also:


GÁLLEGO, Julián. Autorretratos de Goya. Zaragoza, 1978.

WILSON-BAREAU, Juliet. Goya : La década de los Caprichos : Dibujos y aguafuertes. Madrid, 1992. (Catalogue of the exhibition of the Academia de San Fernando).

Ricardo Centellas

Sermon of St. Bernardino of Siena befor King Alfonso I of Aragón
Self-portrait working at night (Detail)
Self-portrait working at night
Self-portrait at 69 years of age

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