Goya: Truth And War Essay

1125 words - 5 pages

                          GOYA:
Truth and War

On May 2nd 1808 the people of Madrid revolted against the French troops

occupying their city. The following day the French retaliated. In the remembrance of

this event Francisco de Goya painted The Third of May. The horrific scene takes place at

night on a deserted hillside. The feeling of horror is conveyed by the churoscuro use of

lighting. Painted with intense emotional expression the Spaniards stand before there

deaths. The soldiers before them lined up with guns in hand and ready to fire. The

Spaniard facial expression and body language differ slightly which conveys the

methodical process of execution that each victim faced before and after their death. It is

uncertain weather or not Goya acctually witnessed these events. In any case his

depiction of this event paints a horrific and dramatic picture, which evokes emotion that

is quit undeniable. As in some of his other works Goya represents the brutal truth of

warfare.
     
Goya’s earlier work consists of the irrational or macabre, exploring worlds of

dark fantasy. Paintings such as St. Francis and Borgia Exorcising or The Bogeyman is

Coming represent his preoccupation with the unknown or strange. Goya’s work focuses

on both the potentials of human behaviour and the strang and unusual qualities of fantasy

and reality. Observing an earlier painting such as The Bogeyman is Coming in

comparison to the Third of May, Goya makes a shift in subject matter from an imagined

fantasy to a real life event. Although this change has occurred his element of the

macabre are still present. The immediate impression of The Third of May is of terror and

immoralized human behavior. The central figure holds out his arms like a man crucified

with the body language of defiance. Bright whites and yellows are used in contrast to his

surroundings contributing to the dramatic image. The Spaniard’s faces are drawn in

detail giving each figure an identity. Their facial expressions show fear and despair. No

longer is Goya using elements of horror and drama to represent an imagined event. This

is a picture of reality, an event that occurred with every amount of terror and emotion that

is expressed in this painting. His image of war is stripped of all myths revealing the

brutal truths of human conflict. This was an idea he used in many of his works, for Goya

himself was a conflicted man.
     
After 1808 Spain was occupied by Napoleonic forces and Goya witnessed first

hand accounts of murder, rape, pillaging, and mutilation. He quietly recorded these

events until Napoleons demise in 1814. During this 6 year period the brutalities and

miseries of war that had occurred effected the lives of every Spaniard as well as the art of

Goya. After...

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