Francisco Goya 's experiences as painter to Charles IV, at whose sensationally court he lived fostered his unsentimental hard-eyed realism. In his large painting The Family of Charles IV, Goya presented, with a straight face], a menagerie of human grotesques who, critics have long been convinced, must |not have had the intelligence to realize that the artist was presenting them with unflinching and unflattering sarcasm. Goya frankly depicts Charles IV and his family as inept by using the disharmonious image of many in the portrait looking in different directions. This standout revelation is one of thick-witted, bloated arrogance, and vulgarity. Painted in 1800 the family portrait led to a later critic to summarize the subject as the,” grocer and his family who have just won the lottery prize."
The painter, Goya himself can be seen behind his canvas and is barely noticeable at the left; his features are dryly sarcastic as he gazes beyond his subjects to the viewer.
In this work Goya demonstrates his exemplary skill as a manager of oil medium and a colorist. They float with a muted lustrous rainbow play of paint across the surface, and the coat is employed with an adept frugality. Great solidity is hinted by the most translucent tones.
A magician of optical pictorialsm, Goya utilizes the methods of his great predecessor Diego Velázquez. The Family of Charles IV was very likely inspired by Velázquez's Las Meninas seen here.
Francisco Goya has tried to compete with and at the same time honor Veláquez with his literal irony by showing the comparable lack of personality between the two families.
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Art Through the Ages. University of Michigan: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich.
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