Goya The Portraits Xavier Bray, B. Mena Manuela Marqués, Thomas Gayford, Allison Goudie

Publication date:
30 Sep 2015
National Gallery London
272 pages: 279 x 229mm
160 color illus.

A landmark overview and analysis of Goya’s finest portraits

Francisco de Goya y Lucientes (1746–1828) was one of the greatest portraitists of his time. The first large-scale book devoted to the topic, this handsome volume features portraits that shed light on Goya and his subjects, as well as on the politically turbulent and culturally dynamic era in which they lived. Whether portraying royalty, philosophers, military men, or friends, these works are memorable both for the insight they provide into the relationship between artist and sitter, and for their penetrating psychological depth. 
Xavier Bray traces Goya’s career from his beginnings at the Madrid court of Charles III to his final years in Bordeaux, played out against the backdrop of war with France and the social, political, and cultural shift of the Enlightenment. More than 60 remarkable portraits, including drawings and miniatures, reveal the full range of Goya’s technical and stylistic achievements, while also depicting sitters with a previously unparalleled humanity. His break with traditional, late-18th-century conventions allowed him to achieve a new modernity in portraiture that paved the way for artists such as Matisse and Picasso. 

Xavier Bray is chief curator at Dulwich Picture Gallery. Manuela Mena Marqués is chief curator of 18th-century paintings at the Museo del Prado, Madrid. Thomas Gayford is a former research assistant at Dulwich Picture Gallery.

"A splendid monograph . . . Bray is a lively writer and has contextualized the portraits by inserting them within a running account of the artist’s life and times."—Jonathan Brown, Art Newspaper

"[Bray] has given us Goya as his contemporaries knew him—as one of the most expressive portrait painters of his age."—Ruth Guilding, Evening Standard

"This important book brings Goya out of the shadows and rightly shines a new light on a remarkable career and shows how influential Goya became for later painters . . ."—London Visitor

"Accompanying a major exhibition at the National Gallery, the first dedicated to Goya’s portraits, this excellent book greatly extends our knowledge of the Spanish painter and the times in which he lived."—Bill Spence, Yorkshire Gazette and Herald