Wonderful exhibition of Goya portraits at the National Gallery until January 10th 2016.
When I thought of Goya’s paintings and drawings it was of his Black Works like The forcibly Bewitched and The Disasters of War, but these portraits show a quite different Goya – a successful Goya favoured by royalty and commissioned by the rich and famous.
I found his early portraits stiff and not very convincing until about 1895 when they changed to a more relaxed , human style. Some were almost impressionistic and I marvelled at his depiction of lace and gold encrusted fabric.My favourites were of two women – both delightful in their own way – that of the demure but lively Thérèse Louise de Sureda. painted 1804-6 and that of the actress Antonia Zárate, painted about 1805 looking straight at us out of her portrait. I loved his portrait of King Ferdinand VII painted 1814-15, long nose and all but was disappointed that the Duke of Wellington looked so uninteresting in his painted portrait though so much more human in Goya’s chalk and graphite drawing. I found his portraits of his friends and children were the most engaging.
Except for his earliest self-portraits, he portrays himself as a rather ugly, unhappy man though there must have been good times when he wasn’t being hounded out of his homeland because a more reactionary faction had taken over.