An investigation into the Enlightenment and aspects of Spanish life which may have influenced Los Caprichos (1797-1799) of Francisco de Goya (1746-1828)

Ralls, Warren John (1997) An investigation into the Enlightenment and aspects of Spanish life which may have influenced Los Caprichos (1797-1799) of Francisco de Goya (1746-1828). Masters thesis, Rhodes University.




The aim of this mini-thesis was to investigate if the Spanish artist Francisco Jose de Goya y Lucientes (1746-1828) was aware of the progress that enlightened thought brought to Spain during the late eighteenth-century, and to see whether this had any effect on his series Los Caprichos (1797-1799). According to some contemporary historians, such as Dowling (1985, p. 347), the " ... specific subject-matter of the Caprichos came directly from the ideology of the Spanish Enlightenment. " The contemporary historian Jeremy Black (1990, p. 208) described the Enlightenment as a " ... tendency towards critical enquiry and the application of reason." Enlightened thinkers were primarily critics who used reason as a goal and a method to create a better society. Reason was believed to be a characteristic trait of the human species, human development and social organisation. The Enlightenment is not a purely seventeenth and eighteenth century phenomenon, but originated in the ideas of the classical civilizations and also the humanism of the Middle Ages and Renaissance in Europe. Many intellectuals were responsible for this new direction of thinking. The ideas of these scientists and philosophers are discussed in some detail, especially those beliefs which are clearly seen in the subject-matter of Los Caprichos. In addition, consideration is given to the possible effects of some of the historical events on the life and work of Goya, for example, the French Revolution (1789) and the Reign of Terror (1793-1794) which followed the Revolution. In order to understand the background of the environment into which Goya was born and in which he developed, research was done on Spanish life and the monarchs of the eighteenth century. Specific attention is given to two Spanish kings from the House of Bourbon: Charles 3, who began numerous enlightened reforms in Spain and reigned around the time of Goya's early artistic and social development, and Charles 4 who did not continue the reforming policies of his father and ruled Spain when the Caprichos were produced. The extent to which the Enlightenment spread to Spain is investigated, especially during the period in which Goya lived. Notable progressive thinkers of this European country are discussed, and special attention is given to those open-minded people whom Goya met. There appears to be proof that Goya may have been inspired by numerous of these learned Spaniards, and where this has motivated the Caprichos, special mention is made. The general census of the twentieth century, however, seems to be that Goya was not a towering intellectual thinker, but he was most certainly not an illiterate, unintelligent person either. The themes of Los Caprichos strongly suggest that he was influenced by enlightened individuals many of whom were his friends, such as the wealthy businessman and art-collector Sebastian Martinez (17 ?-1800) (with whom Goya stayed during a serious illness in 1792-1793). The letters written by Goya to his childhood friend Martin Zapater (1746-18 ?) and selected prints from the Caprichos provide sufficient proof to indicate that enlightened thought inspired the work of Goya. It must be recognised, however, that there were other events that could have been influential such as: his appointment as Painter to the King in 1786, which provided Goya with a regular salary and released him from the demands of patrons, giving his imagination free reign; the illness that he suffered from 1792 until 1793, which could have caused Goya to view his life in perspective and could have given him the courage to criticise society. On a smaller scale, the possible love affair that Goya had with the Duchess of Alba, which turned sour, was possibly a blow to his self esteem. This is a subject which is seen in a few of the prints from Los Caprichos. The research gathered for this mini-thesis is from the ex post facto source-material available through Rhodes University library, and any other attainable published data connected to Goya. This information consists of secondary sources which include copies of manuscripts dating from the time of Goya as well as first-hand observations of Goya's art.

Item Type:Thesis (Masters)
Uncontrolled Keywords:Francisco Goya, Caprichos
Subjects:N Fine Arts > ND Painting
Divisions:Faculty > Faculty of Humanities > Fine Art
ID Code:3149
Deposited By: Mrs Carol Perold
Deposited On:25 Jul 2012 08:30
Last Modified:25 Jul 2012 08:30
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