Exhibition | Goya: The Portraits

Posted in books, catalogues, exhibitions by Editor on January 10, 2015

Looking ahead to the fall at The National Gallery in London:

Goya: The Portraits
The National Gallery, London, 7 October 2015 — 10 January 2016

Curated by Xavier Bray


Francisco de Goya, Self Portrait in His Studio, 1793–95 (Madrid: Museo de la Real Academia de Bellas Artes de San Fernando)

Francisco de Goya (1746–1828) is one of Spain’s most celebrated artists. He was considered a supremely gifted portrait painter and an excellent social commentator who took the genre of portraiture to new heights through his ability to reveal the psychology of his sitter. This landmark exhibition—the first ever focusing solely on his portraits—will re-appraise Goya’s genius as a portraitist and provide a penetrating insight into both public and private aspects of his life. It will explore Goya’s ambitions and development as a painter, and his innovative and unconventional approach to portraiture which often broke traditional boundaries.

The exhibition will trace Goya’s career from his early beginnings at the court of Charles III in Madrid to his appointment as First Court Painter to Charles IV, through the difficult period under Joseph Bonaparte and then Ferdinand VII, which nevertheless saw some of his finest work, and then his final years in France. By bringing together more than 50 of his most outstanding portraits from around the world, including drawings and miniatures, and organising them in a chronological and thematic sequence, the show will enable viewers to engage for the first time with the full range of Goya’s technical, stylistic and psychological development as a portraitist.

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Note (added 4 August 2015) — The full press release is available here.

The catalogue is distributed by Yale UP:

Xavier Bray, with Manuela Mena Marqués and Thomas Gayford, Goya: The Portraits (London: The National Gallery, 2015), 272 pages, ISBN: 978-1857095739, $60.

9781857095739Francisco de Goya y Lucientes (1746–1828) was one of the greatest portraitists of his time. The first large-scale book devoted to the topic, this handsome volume features portraits that shed light on Goya and his subjects, as well as on the politically turbulent and culturally dynamic era in which they lived. Whether portraying royalty, philosophers, military men, or friends, these works are memorable both for the insight they provide into the relationship between artist and sitter, and for their penetrating psychological depth.

Xavier Bray traces Goya’s career from his beginnings at the Madrid court of Charles III to his final years in Bordeaux, played out against the backdrop of war with France and the social, political, and cultural shift of the Enlightenment. More than 60 remarkable portraits, including drawings and miniatures, reveal the full range of Goya’s technical and stylistic achievements, while also depicting sitters with a previously unparalleled humanity. His break with traditional, late-18th-century conventions allowed him to achieve a new modernity in portraiture that paved the way for artists such as Matisse and Picasso.

Xavier Bray is chief curator at Dulwich Picture Gallery. Manuela Mena Marqués is chief curator of 18th-century paintings at the Museo del Prado, Madrid. Thomas Gayford is a former research assistant at Dulwich Picture Gallery.

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