GOYA, AWAKENED IN A DREAM
SUBJECTS — Visual Arts; World/Spain & the Enlightenment; Biography;
SOCIAL-EMOTIONAL LEARNING — Father/Son; Friendship; Illness; Human Rights; Talent; Disabilities;
MORAL-ETHICAL EMPHASIS — Caring.
AGE: 8 – 13; No MPAA Rating;
Drama; 1999; 55 minutes, Color. Available from Amazon.com.
Francisco Goya (1746 – 1828) was one of the most accomplished and original painters of all time. His work predicted the dominant movements of modern art in the 19th and 20th centuries: Romanticism, Impressionism, Expressionism and Surrealism. Goya’s ground breaking paintings served as an inspiration to the French artists, such as the Impressionists, who broke away from the scholastic artistic traditions that prevailed in the second half of the nineteenth century.
In this film, Goya is an old man, threatened by the Inquisition and misunderstood by his only surviving son. Goya has hired a new housekeeper. He finds solace in his “Black Paintings” and in teaching his housekeeper’s daughter how to paint.
This is another installment of the award-winning Artists’ Specials, created for HBO by Devine Entertainment. While “Goya: Awakened in a Dream” did not itself garner any awards, it is well made and interesting.
Introduce your child to Goya as a great Spanish painter who was working at the time of the American Revolution and whose work influenced much of modern art. Look at the paintings contained in this Learning Guide and go over the points in the painting analysis section. If your child is interested in politics, review the Helpful Background section and discuss the politics of Spain in the early 1800s and Goya’s problems with the Spanish crown.
Although Francisco Goya (1746 – 1828) was a painter to the Spanish Court, much of his best work was done when he painted for himself. His paintings include formal portraiture for the Spanish royalty and aristocracy, classical religious works, beautiful “tapestry cartoons,” paintings that are so modern in style and subject that they could have been painted yesterday (examples: “The Execution of Madrileños on the Third of May” and ” The Forge”), caricature, and finally, the dark phantoms of the “Black Paintings.” Goya has been called the first of the modern painters because of the uncompromising honesty of his portrayal of his times and his belief that the artist’s vision was more important than tradition.
From the age of 30, Goya held many positions of honor and prestige in the courts of three Borbón kings of Spain: Charles III, Charles IV, and Ferdinand VII. For more than 16 years, Goya spent part of this time painting cartoons for tapestries used in the palace. Tapestry cartoons were, at the time, considered to be the culmination of the visual arts and this was a very prestigious position. In 1786, he was appointed First Court Painter to the King of Spain. Goya served as the director of painting at the Royal Academy from 1795 to 1797.
Goya was recognized during his life as one of the greatest Spanish painters of all time, however, his influence over modern painting was felt most keenly in France. French artists of the Impressionist school understood his work to be ground breaking. Many (including Édouard Manet and Mary Cassatt) journeyed to Spain to view Goya’s work. Edgar Degas had one or two Goya paintings in his private collection.
Only one of Goya’s children survived to adulthood. A serious illness at the age of 46 left Goya permanently deaf. While his disability did not derail his painting career, Goya’s non-official work increasingly dealt with dark fears and the inventions of his imagination.
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Capricho 42: Tu que no puedes (You, Who Cannot Do It). 1797-98
While Goya astutely climbed the ladder of appointments as artist to the Spanish throne, his private work and some of his portraits, mocked his patrons. The Caprichios, published in 1799, were etchings that satirized human folly and weakness as well as the society of the time. Goya was a proponent of the Enlightenment and of liberal politics. These views brought him into conflict with both the Catholic Church and the repressive elements in the Spanish government. Goya strongly opposed the Inquisition. Perhaps as a result of this, he was twice brought before the Inquisition on charges, but each time he was not convicted.
From 1819 to 1824 Goya lived in a house outside Madrid and no longer worked for the Spanish Court. There he adopted an increasingly personal style, which culminated in the Black Paintings. Executed on the walls of his house, the Black Paintings expressed Goya’s darkest visions.
In 1824, after attempts to restore a liberal government had failed and as the regime of Ferdinand VII became increasingly repressive, Goya went into voluntary exile in France. He settled in Bordeaux along with many other Spanish exiles.
Throughout his life, even when in exile in Bordeaux, Goya was interested in new techniques and sought to extend his art. In his eighties, he drew himself, like an ancient Methuselah, with the title from a motto attributed to Michelangelo, “Still learning.” Goya died while in exile on April 16, 1828. Today many of Goya’s best paintings hang in Madrid’s Prado art museum.
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Self-portrait with Dr Arrieta, 1820, Oil on canvas. The inscription reads: “Goya in gratitude to his friend Arrieta for the skill and care with which he saved his life in his acute and dangerous illness suffered at the end of the year 1819 at the age of 73. He painted it in 1820.”
Some Notes about Rosarita and Leocadia: The major historical inaccuracy about the film is that Rosarita was really Goya’s daughter. The “housekeeper,” Leocadia, was really Goya’s mistress and common law wife. (Goya’s wife of many years, Josefa had died in 1812.) Leocadia was much younger than Goya and stayed with him until his death. The film honors the fiction that Goya and Leocadia maintained for much of their life together, that she was his housekeeper and that Rosarita was not related to Goya. However, this fiction was not maintained among their circle of friends in which Goya referred to Leocadia as his wife.
The description in the movie of Goya’s relationship with Rosarita has many parallels in fact. He taught Rosarita to draw and paint. Goya and Rosarita worked on ivory miniatures together. Rosarita was a talented artist who, after Goya’s death, served as the painting instructor to a Spanish princess.
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The Last Communion of Saint Jose de Calasanz 1819, Oil on canvas.
GOYA AND SPANISH HISTORY
Before 1786, the Spanish Court had preferred the art of Italy and France to that of Spain. The position of First Court Painter had traditionally been held by foreigners. When Charles IV ascended the thrown, an emphasis was placed on Spanish art. Goya, by that time a popular and established painter, was appointed First Court Painter.
Spain in the 18th and 19th centuries was a feudal, conservative country in which the Catholic church was very powerful. Spanish society strongly resisted the philosophy of the Enlightenment which by that time had swept most of Western Europe.
During the French Revolution (1789 – 1799) France had been attacked by its royalists neighbors who sought to overthrow the revolutionary government and restore the French monarchy. The French army defended the country but the Revolution was never able to establish a stable government. Beginning in 1799 France was ruled by Napoleon, a popular general who later crowned himself emperor and embarked on the conquest of Europe. Napoleon continued most of the reforms of the French revolution: abolishing feudalism and serfdom, permitting universal male suffrage (for those elections that he permitted to be held) and establishing a bill of rights that included freedom of religion. He also retained the revolutionary administrative and judicial systems, fostered public education, opened higher education to those qualified regardless of rank, and promoted the arts and sciences by establishing academies and subsidizing scientists and artists. As France conquered more and more territory, the same reforms, called the Napoleonic Code, were imposed upon the conquered peoples. Generally, throughout most of Europe, the reforms of Napoleon were very popular. Spain was an exception to this. Due to the influence of the Catholic Church, the French made no attempt to impose the provisions of the Napoleonic Code requiring freedom of religion.
The Forge c. 1817, Oil on Canvas
Spanish liberals, proponents of the Enlightenment, took their model from France and sought to have French reforms adopted in Spain. The Church and conservative elements in society resisted these reforms. Goya, a proponent of the Enlightenment, was also an admirer of France.
As Europe warred in the early 1800s, Spain became an ally of France. The Spanish King, Charles IV, was a weak leader, dominated by his wife. She influenced him to give power to Martin Godoy who functioned as a dictator. Godoy was not a popular ruler. He allowed Napoleon to send 130,000 French troops to Spain on the pretext that they were necessary to protect Spain from invasion by the common enemy, the English. The French troops reached Madrid in 1808. Among the proponents of the Enlightenment, the entrance of the French kindled the hope that finally, Spain would embrace the principles of the modern world.
Later in the year, riots against the dictator, Godoy, caused Charles IV to flee Madrid. He abdicated the throne in favor of his son Ferdinand VII. On May 2, 1808, as the children of Charles IV were being escorted out of Madrid by French troops, the people of Madrid spontaneously rose in rebellion. Ordinary citizens, using whatever came to hand (knives, rocks, farm implements) attacked the French troops. The rebellion was brutally suppressed by the French. For example, in putting down the initial uprising of May 2, the French summarily executed every citizen of Madrid who was found in possession of a knife. See The Execution of Madrileños on the Third of May.
A month later, on June 6, Napoleon appointed his brother Joseph to be King of Spain. The Spanish people rose in a revolt, again brutally suppressed by the French. Joseph was never accepted by the Spanish people who referred to him as the “Intruder King.”
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Self-Portrait, c. 1790-1795, Oil on Canvas
The revolt against the French was not successful until intervention by the English, commanded by the Duke of Wellington. Ferdinand VII was restored to the throne and proved to be a brutal and repressive reactionary. Liberals, proponents of the Enlightenment or of French reforms, were all persecuted.
Goya painted for each successive administration, be it Borbón (the family name for the Spanish royal family) or French. After the French were defeated, questions were raised about Goya’s patriotism. In 1815, when he was 68 years old, Goya was prosecuted by the Inquisition for a painting called “The Nude Maya.” It was a private painting, one of the few nudes in Spanish art at the time. In reality, the prosecution was because of doubts about Goya’s sympathies during the war with France. (In Spain the judges of the Inquisition were appointed by the government.) Goya was able to produce witnesses to his patriotism and was let off.
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“The Execution of Madrileños on the Third of May”
Comments on Some of the Paintings Shown in This Learning Guide
“The Execution of Madrileños on the Third of May” — (Click here for full sized image.) The first European painting of its time to show the horror of modern war, “The Execution of Madrileños on the Third of May”, has been described as the first work of modern art. Goya does not attempt to paint the scene in a realistic manner. Nor is there an attempt to show heroic forces battling each other. We are shown what would be remembered by a witness to the event. This painting established a genre of paintings that record the horrors of war. One is reminded of Picasso’s “Guernica,” which carried on this tradition.
The flow of energy in the “The Third of May” starts with the soldiers pointing their guns at the man about to be executed. The figure at the far left of the picture, protecting his head with his hands, and the line of the hill in the background accentuate this. These last two elements do not immediately register. Instead, the color red draws the viewer’s eye down to the blood on the ground. The French soldiers all have the same stance, aggressive and immovable at the same time. Their faces are not shown. They are a weapon, an inhuman force framing the painting and driving the situation being described.
The use of color serves the meaning and focus of the work. The colors, all except for the lantern, the man to be executed and the blood of the dead, are muted greys and browns. Our eye focuses on the white of the man’s shirt, soon to be stained by the very red blood that we see on the ground.
The man to be killed does not have his hands bound. Instead, his arms are raised in a gesture which is at once Christlike and defiant, accepting his own fate but predicting, insisting upon, the ultimate defeat of the French. With his arms raised to address heaven and mankind, he is also horrified that he is about to die. This figure symbolizes all of the people who were slaughtered in executions by the French during the war.
No one is idealized in this painting. The Madrileño to be executed is not shown as particularly handsome. If he is heroic, it is the heroism of the unlucky: a common man, caught by the victors and raised to the status of sacrificial lamb. His face shows his realization of his impending death.
The executioners are not demonized. We don’t even see their faces. They act in unison, machine-like, as impersonal instruments of death. Their faces are tilted down and they appear not to be looking at where their guns are pointed, at the man they are about to kill. Their victim, on the contrary, looks directly at them and aims his appeal to them as well as to us. But they are deaf to it.
The painting is not painted in a realistic manner and has been held out as a classic example of expressionism in which the artist seeks to depict not objective reality but instead the subjective emotions and responses that objects and events arouse in him. Irrelevant details are suppressed and what is shown is clearly intended to create emotional effect and convey meaning. “The Third of May” is more than the description of an event, it is an argument, an emotion, a vision of horror, a cry of anguish, and an homage to the common man/victim of war. While this painting and its companion “The Uprising at Puerta del Sol on the Second of May” depict specific historical events, they have come to symbolize the horror of all modern war. “The Third of May” has gone further and has become one of the “archetypical images that condition the very tenor of existence after their completion.” Goya by Fred Licht p. 166.
“Self-Portrait” (Click here for full sized image.) — Note how the light coming in from the window creates a three-dimensional affect. Goya wears a hat with clips for candles. As shown in the film, hats such as this allowed Goya to see and paint at night.
“The Forge” (Click here for full sized image.) — The viewer is looking up to the figures in the painting. This makes them look monumental. The energy of both the blacksmith and his helper, who is holding the metal to be hammered, are focused on their tasks. The room is empty of the usual implements of the blacksmith trade. This allows the dark colors of the backdrop to serve as a frame for the figures in the painting. Goya said that, “My eye never sees outlines or particular features or details…. My brush should not see better than I do.” Analysis and quotation taken from What Makes a Goya a Goya, Metropolitan Museum of Art, page 41.
“The Forge” is also cited as an example of expressionism in Goya’s work.
“The Crucified Christ” (Click here for full sized image.) — This is the painting that won Goya admission to the Royal Society of San Fernando, recognizing that he was among the most accomplished artists in Spain at that time. The style is realistic, distinguished from the expressionism of Goya’s later work (“The Forge” and “The Execution of Madrileños on the Third of May”) and the dark fantasies of the “Black Paintings”
“Goya and his Dr. Arrieta” (Click here for full sized image.) — The Goya in the picture is not pleased with the doctor. He doesn’t want to drink the medicine that will save him. He is tired of life and cannot summon the will to live. He is irritated at the disturbance by Arrieta. This character would like to be left alone to slip away. But Dr. Arrieta cradles him with infinite kindness, insisting that he drink the medicine that will cure him.
This painting comes from a traditional Spanish religious art form called the “ex-voto” in which a scene of a catastrophe is shown along with the Virgin Mary or an interceding saint who has protected the person shown to be at risk. The image is dedicated to the holy protector by an inscription at the bottom. In this painting, Goya takes this religious form and makes it secular.
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Crucified Christ, 1780, Oil on canvas
Francisco Goya predicted modern trends in art for the next hundred years. Can you explain how such a talent came to exist and flourish?
No. A unique and powerful talent, like that of Goya, is an unexplainable miracle. One of the wonders of the universe.
[No suggested Answers.]
2. Look at the self-portrait of Goya shown on this Guide. What is he wearing that reminds you of a scene in the film?
It’s the hat fitted with clips to hold candles. After asking this question and receiving an answer explain that you have heard two explanations: (1) the aristocracy in Spain at the time Goya was painting had a custom of looking at paintings by candlelight (Goya would finish his paintings by candlelight so that he could see what his audience would see) and (2) at certain times in his career, Goya was so busy that he used the candles to extend his work day. Francisco Goya by Martha Richardson, p. 39.
3. What was Goya intending to convey in Capricho No. 42? He tells us in the movie.
The donkeys, because they wear spurs, are the aristocrats who are borne on the backs of the hard working overburdened peasants.
4. Which artists were influenced by Goya?
The artists in France who, in the late 1800s, rejected the restrictions of the academic style and created modern art. Through these artists, Goya influenced all of modern art.
5. What is the relationship between Goya and modern art?
Much of modern art was presaged by Goya. He has been called the first of the modern painters. His work predicted the dominant movements of modern art in the 19th and 20th centuries: Romanticism, Impressionism, Expressionism, and Surrealism. Goya’s groundbreaking paintings served as an inspiration to the French artists, such as the Impressionists, who broke away from the scholastic artistic traditions that prevailed in the second half of the nineteenth century.
6. What was the Inquisition and how did the Inquisition in Spain differ from that in other countries?
The Inquisition was an institution of the Catholic Church used to root out heresies (beliefs that varied from the doctrine of the church) and punish heretics. The Inquisition in Spain was an institution of state policy as well because the judges were appointed by the King.
7. Describe the historical background for “The Execution of Madrileños on the Third of May.”
See the Helpful Background Section.
8. In the early 1800s, paintings of battles glamorized the actions of the victors and showed heroic deeds and great generals. In what way is “The Execution of Madrileños on the Third of May” different than this?
This was not a battle of contending heroic armies drawn in a realistic manner. It was not just a depiction of the event. Details are suppressed. Liberties are taken with the form to convey the emotions that would be felt by someone watching the event and the human and historical importance of the event. This painting is a classic example of “expressionism” a style in which the artist seeks to depict not objective reality but rather the subjective emotions and responses that objects and events arouse in him.
See questions under Caring.
1. How did the friendship between Rosarita and Goya develop in the film?
They had an interest in common, drawing and painting.
2. What does the painting Self-Portrait with Dr. Arrieta tell us about how someone who seriously ill feels and the role of the physician?
The Goya shown in the painting doesn’t seem to want to live and the doctor is pulling him back into life. But Goya did recover, not only his health but his interest in life.
HUMAN RIGHTS – TALENT
3. What is the relationship between talent and human rights and how does it relate to this film?
Talent cannot flower or find its expression without human rights.
4. What effect did Goya’s deafness have on his career?
Not much. He still created new and groundbreaking works of art.
5. Describe how each of the disabilities of the following people affected their lives: Thomas Edison, Helen Keller, Beethoven, Edgar Degas, and Francisco Goya.
Edison used his deafness as a way to obtain separation and concentrate; Helen Keller overcame being deaf, dumb and blind to get a college education and become an author and model for all people; Beethoven composed music and invented new forms of music after he had become deaf; Degas continued to paint as long as possible and adapted his style to his failing eyesight; Goya continued to paint and perhaps, as shown in the film, used his deafness as an excuse when he didn’t want to communicate with someone. None of these people allowed their disabilities to stop them.
MORAL-ETHICAL EMPHASIS (CHARACTER COUNTS)
Discussion Questions Relating to Ethical Issues will facilitate the use of this film to teach ethical principles and critical viewing. Additional questions are set out below.
(Be kind; Be compassionate and show you care; Express gratitude; Forgive others; Help people in need)
1. Goya and his son had some difficulties in their relationship. Goya was dismissive of the Court while his son was trying to build a career there and get along with the King. However, through this story they are shown reconciling. Goya and the housekeeper and Goya and Rosarita also develop affection for one another. What is the basis for this?
They cared about each other and, in the end, this very principled emotion came through and governed their actions. See also the suggested response to the next question.
2. Can you care about someone who is very different from you or who disagrees with you about important matters?
Of course. All you must do is concentrate on the basis for the loving relationship and recognize that people are different and that you might not have a monopoly on the truth. Everyone has had the experience of having a strongly felt opinion proven wrong. In this movie, Javier saw that the “Black Paintings” were great works of art and expressions of his father’s thoughts. He cared about his father and didn’t think that he should be prosecuted by the Inquisition for paintings in his own house. The basis for the revival of the relationship was that the men cared about each other.
ASSIGNMENTS, PROJECTS & ACTIVITIES
- Assignments, Projects, and Activities for Use With Any Film that is a Work of Fiction;
- Check a book with photographs of Goya’s paintings out of the library and review them with the class. Have each person pick the painting he or she likes best and explain why. If the class is large get several books and break the class into groups. The book “Goya” by Fred Licht would be excellent for this purpose.
BRIDGES TO READING
There are a wealth of children’s books about Goya and many books for readers of all ages which show Goya’s work. They include Francisco Goya, part of the Getting to Know the World’s Great Artists’ Specials, written and illustrated by Mike Venezia, recommended for ages 8 – 11; Goya: A Biography, by Elizabeth Ripley, is clearly written and places Goya’s life in the context of Spanish history; the illustrations are black and white; the book is suitable for ages 9 – 12; Francisco Goya, by Ann Waldron, is part of the First Impression series and is suitable for ages 9 – 12; What Makes a Goya a Goya?, by Richard Mühlberger published in association with the Metropolitan Museum of Art, is suitable for children 9 – 12; ,Francisco Goya, by Martha Richardson, part of the Hispanics of Achievement Series is suitable for children 10 years of age and older; Goya, by Patricia Wright, is part of the Eyewitness Art series and suitable for children 10 years of age or older. Francisco Goya: Painter of Kings and Deamons, by Silvia L. Horwitz, is also suitable for an older age group.
Books intended for adult audiences on Goya, which are also suitable for children ages 14 and older are as follows: Goya, Another Look, is the catalogue for an exhibition organized by the Philadelphia Museum of Art and the Palais de Beaux Arts in Lille, France; Old Man Goya by Julia Blackburn, is a first-person fantasy of remembrances of Goya; Goya by Fred Licht is a large sized book with beautiful illustrations and an extensive, insightful and at times almost poetic text.
Inquisition, shrew, lunacy, lascivious, mystic, heretic.