Goya’s Last Works

A breathtaking collection of Goya’s last years.

An artist's late works can illuminate how 'œlifelong passions overcome physical limitations,' said Lance Esplund in The New York Sun. For some artists, the weakening of the corporeal self inspires the strengthening and freeing of the spiritual and artistic self. Such is the case with Spanish artist Francisco de Goya. The Frick Collection's 'œstunning, intimate exhibition' of 50 of the artist's late works shows Goya's 'œincreasing genius and breadth during the last four years of his life.' Most were completed between 1824 and 1828, when Goya was living in voluntary exile in Bordeaux, France. He was deaf and infirm, and did not know a word of French. Yet his work was never better. The exhibit is built around the 'œspectacular painting Portrait of a Lady (1824). The modernist portrait, in which the woman's face 'œshines from out of a greenish-gray dark, prefigures and outdoes Manet.'

Portraiture was central to Goya's career, said Michael Kimmelman in The New York Times. His best evinces an 'œintimate bond with the sitters.' A strong bond shines through his portrait of his old friend Leandro Fernandez de Moratin, a poet and playwright. Goya shows him 'œpuffy and middle-aged, his face built up with thick, putty-like slabs of pigment.' But Moratin wears an expression showing that while he knows Goya 'œwill be brutally honest … [he] is himself a believer in truth.' Only the most mature of painters could manage such a feat. The Frick also displays many of the drawings Goya did in Bordeaux. They read like diary entries; he drew a roller-skater about to fall over, an amputee beggar in a wheelchair, and a woman squeezed into a shoulder carriage lugged by a stooped porter.

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