Francisco José de Goya y Lucientes, was a Spanish romantic painter and printmaker. He is considered the most important Spanish artist of the late 18th and early 19th centuries and throughout his long career was a commentator and chronicler of his era. Immensely successful in his lifetime, Goya is often referred to as both the last of the Old Masters and the first of the Moderns.
He was also one of the great contemporary portraitists, Goya became a court painter to the Spanish Crown in 1786 and this early portion of his career is marked by portraits of the Spanish aristocracy and royalty. Goya was guarded, and although letters and writings survive, little is known about his thoughts. He suffered a severe and undiagnosed illness in 1793 which left him deaf. Sick and disillusioned, after 1793 his work became progressively darker and pessimistic. His later easel and mural paintings, prints and drawings appear to reflect a bleak outlook on personal, social and political levels, and contrast with his social climbing.
In 1799 Goya became Primer Pintor de Cámara, the then-highest rank for a Spanish court painter. In 1807 Napoleon lead the French Army into the peninsular war against Spain. Goya remained in Madrid during the war which seems to have affected him deeply. Works from his mid period include the Caprichos and Los Disparates etching series, and a wide variety of paintings concerned with Insanity, witches, fantastical creatures and religious and political corruption, all of which suggest that he feared for both his country’s fate and his own mental and physical health.
His late period culminates with the black paintings of 1819–1823, applied on oil on the plaster walls of his house, where, disillusioned by political and social developments in Spain he lived in near isolation. Goya eventually abandoned Spain in 1824 to retire to the French city of Bordeaux.
Following a stroke which left him paralyzed on his right side, and suffering failing eyesight and poor access to painting materials, he died and was buried on 16 April 1828 aged 82. His body was later re-interred in Spain.