Goya: The Portraits

Francisco de Goya, The Duchess of Alba, 1797 (© Courtesy of The Hispanic Society
Francisco de Goya, The Duchess of Alba, 1797 (© Courtesy of The Hispanic Society of America, New York)

Martin Oldham reviews Goya: The Portraits at the National Gallery London, on view through January 10, 2016.

Oldham writes: "If there is a disruptive element here, it is Francisco de Goya y Lucientes himself. He may have been the servant of the Spanish elite, but his frank and often unflattering portraits betray a human vulnerability behind his sitters’ social performances. By focusing solely on the portraiture, the curators successfully show just how diverse and unconventional Goya’s approach was, revealing the artist’s restless innovation and commitment to creating unique images that play off the tensions between personality and public persona. Few of them are pretty, some are decidedly peculiar, but viewed within the continuum of his career each work can be appreciated as an individual expression of Goya’s wilful defiance of artistic norms."