Goya: The Portraits


Goya: The Portraits opened in London today at the National Gallery. If it hadn’t been for the Goya – The Witches and Old Women Album at the Courtauld Gallery earlier this year I probably would have ignored it.

I’m not sure when or if I will be able to tour round the exhibition, so in the meantime I’ve purchased the catalogue. I haven’t spent much time with the book and what I have read so far has given me a greater appreciation of his work.

Looking at the works printed in the book there is much that you see in them that you see in photographs today. There is a style of lighting which some modern day photographers have emulated. The soft lighting of the face and the catch lights in the eyes. How much has it been a conscious or subconscious nod to Goya’s techniques is debatable, but there is definitely a coincidence anyway.

It is interesting to see his self portraits evolve over time. Not just of the ageing process but also the development of his techniques as they mature and grow in confidence.

What also struck me about Goya’s work is his use of body language to give the viewer an instant impression of the person. In one of the early chapters of the book it describes how Goya created works which were more honest and did not try to flatter the sitter. Even with this approach it was said that he was not short of influential people willing to sit for him.

Often with paintings the reproduction online or on paper is never as accurate as seeing the work in real life. I am sure that there will be people coming over to London from around the world to see this collection of works, so it would be a real shame if I don’t get a chance to go to something on my doorstep before it closes on 10 January 2016.