Queen of the Circus

de Goya y Lucientes, Francisco

A Spanish painter whose imagination made him one of the most original painters of his time. A Spanish painter and graphic artist, Francisco de Goya y Lucientes was born near Saragossa, where his father worked as a gilder. After training with an artist in Saragossa, Goya moved to Madrid where he twice applied for travel scholarships awarded by the Real Academia de Bellas Artes but was unsuccessful.  He then spent a year in Italy, travelling at his own expense, before returning to Madrid. He married the sister of Bayeu, the Court Painter, and through his influence obtained employment at the Royal Tapestry Factory. Goya worked there for nearly twenty years, painting more than sixty large cartoons for tapestries to be woven for royal palaces. In addition to this, he painted portraits and religious subjects, His reputation grew and he began to move in high social circles. In 1789 he became court painter to King Charles IV but in 1792 he was greatly afflicted by an illness that left him completely deaf. In 1795, after a long period of recovery, Goya succeeded his brother-in-law, Bayeu, as Director of Painting at the Academy of San Fernando and in 1799 he was appointed First Court Painter to the King. He retained this title during the French occupation of Spain but retired from public life. In 1819 he bought a house on the outskirts of Madrid and it was there that he created many of the works in a series of prints in aquatint and etching known as Proverbios. There were originally eighteen prints, to which four more were added later. Queen of the Circus is one of those four. All the prints were left in Madrid when, in 1824, Goya obtained permission to leave the country for reasons of health and went to live in France. None of the prints were published during Goya’s lifetime because of the repressive political climate in Spain and the four later additions were not published until 1877. 

de Goya y Lucientes


Other pieces in our collection

A Girl’s Head

Gilroy, John Thomas Young

1927, Pencil drawing, 27.8 x 22.6

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