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Goya : A Portrait of the Artist

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'superlative' - LA Times

The first major English-language biography of Francisco Goya y Lucientes, who ushered in the modern era

The life of Francisco Goya (1746-1828) coincided with an age of transformation in Spanish history that brought upheavals in the country's politics and at the court which Goya served, changes in society, the devastation of the Iberian Peninsula in the war against Napoleon, and an ensuing period of political instability. In this revelatory biography, Janis Tomlinson draws on a wide range of documents-including letters, court papers, and a sketchbook used by Goya in the early years of his career-to provide a nuanced portrait of a complex and multifaceted painter and printmaker, whose art is synonymous with compelling images of the people, events, and social revolution that defined his life and era. Tomlinson challenges the popular image of the artist as an isolated figure obsessed with darkness and death, showing how Goya's likeability and ambition contributed to his success at court, and offering new perspectives on his youth, rich family life, extensive travels, and lifelong friendships.

She explores the full breadth of his imagery-from scenes inspired by life in Madrid to visions of worlds without reason, from royal portraits to the atrocities of war. She sheds light on the artist's personal trials, including the deaths of six children and the onset of deafness in middle age, but also reconsiders the conventional interpretation of Goya's late years as a period of disillusion, viewing them instead as years of liberated artistic invention, most famously in the murals on the walls of his country house, popularly known as the "black" paintings. A monumental achievement, Goya: A Portrait of the Artist is the definitive biography of an artist whose faith in his art and his genius inspired paintings, drawings, prints, and frescoes that continue to captivate, challenge, and surprise us two centuries later.

  • Author: Janis Tomlinson
  • Hardcover: 448 pages | 35 colour and 46 black and white illustrations
  • Date published: September 2020
  • Language: English
  • ISBN: 978-0691192048
  • Product Dimensions: 23.5 x 16.9 cm

'If ever there was a time that demanded a fuller understanding of Francisco de Goya y Lucientes, that time is now. Goya navigated the tempestuous shoals around being a court painter and an independent humanist during the brutal period of Spain’s Imperial unraveling. In the process he emerged as arguably the first modern artist. Remarkably, scholar Janis A. Tomlinson’s superlative study, “Goya: A Portrait of the Artist,” is his first major English-language biography.' - LA Times

'An unashamed biography and a standard against which artists’ biographies should be measured. It gracefully and compellingly draws out the scholarly value of this genre, conscious of biography’s historiography and methodological pitfalls, including its propensity to craft myths. Tomlinson’s portrait of Goya is not a story and undoes outdated myths of a brooding, dark figure. It offers instead a rigorously documented chronology of a man in full, rich in contextual detail while at the same time hugely rewarding in its work with images.' - CAA Reviews

'Goya: A Portrait of the Artist [is] a newly informed chance to reflect on an artist of enigmatic mind and permanent significance. . . . Tomlinson addresses, with refreshing clarity, a chronic question of just how independent, not to say subversive, Goya was of the powers that employed him. . . . She admirably keeps the mysteries of Goya's character distinct from its self-serving machinations' - New Yorker

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