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Francisco de Goya

Francisco José de Goya y Lucientes (30 March 1746–16 April 1828) was a Spanish romantic painter and printmaker regarded both as the last of the Old Masters and the first of the moderns. Goya was a court painter to the Spanish Crown, and through his works was both a commentator on and chronicler of his era. The subversive imaginative element in his art, as well as his bold handling of paint, provided a model for the work of later generations of artists

.Goya was born in Fuendetodos, Aragón, Spain, in 1746 to José Benito de Goya y Franque and Gracia de Lucientes y Salvador. He spent his childhood in Fuendetodos, where his family lived in a house bearing the family crest of his mother.

In a period of convalescence during 1793–1794, Goya completed a set of eleven small pictures painted on tin; known as Fantasy and Invention, they mark a significant change in his art. They no longer represent the world of popular carnival, but rather a dark, dramatic realm of fantasy and nightmare. Yard with Lunatics is a horrifying and imaginary vision of loneliness, fear and social alienation, a departure from the rather more superficial treatment of mental illness in the works of earlier artists such as Hogarth. The condemnation of brutality towards prisoners (whether criminal or insane) is the subject of many of Goya’s later paintings.

As he completed Yard with Lunatics, Goya was himself undergoing a physical and mental breakdown. It was a few weeks after the French declaration of war on Spain, and Goya’s illness was developing. A contemporary reported, “the noises in his head and deafness aren’t improving, yet his vision is much better and he is back in control of his balance.” His symptoms may indicate a prolonged viral encephalitis or possibly a series of miniature strokes resulting from high blood pressure and affecting hearing and balance centers in the brain. The triad of tinnitus, episodes of imbalance and progressive deafness is also typical of Ménière’s disease. Other postmortem diagnostic assessment points toward paranoid dementia due to unknown brain trauma (perhaps due to the unknown illness which he reported). If this is the case, from here on, we see an insidious assault of his faculties, manifesting as paranoid features in his paintings, culminating in his black paintings and especially Saturn Devouring His Sons.

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