OLSA: The Goya exhibition

Posted by on Dec 19, 2015 in Discussion, Exhibitions | 0 comments

Stunning exhibition at the National Gallery of portraits by Goya. Since seeing this exhibition I have decided definitely to renew my membership to the gallery as I went almost because I wanted to use it – the ‘moneys worth principle.’ That extra motivation made me go on a day when it was not really convenient.

I came away quite stunned – the portraits were so lively and fresh.  I imagined that each individual could easily step out of their canvas and start a conversation. 

As I walked round the early galleries it reminded me how we like to be remembered at our best – in our finery surrounded by the symbols of what is important to us or represents something  about us which we consider absolutely central to our view of ourselves. I thought – you never see anyone ill at a portrait gallery. How wrong I was. In one of the later rooms there is a portrait of a friend of Goya’s – `Friar Juan Fernandez de Rojas – ‘taking his last breath.’ It is a quite extraordinary picture (in graphite and chalk) of a dying man. The friar was apparently a great friend of his and, in earlier years in health, a reluctant sitter. He allowed Goya the intimacy of seeing his last moments.

Further on there is a self-portrait of Goya being supported by his doctor, Arrieta. Goya developed a life-threatening, distressing illness. He made a good recovery and his portrait shows his enormous admiration for his physician.

Goya went on to live a very full life – including a move to Bordeaux when he was over 80 years old, because of his political differences with the rulers of Spain. A wonderful artist and  engaged interpreter of the world in which he lived and lived fully

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