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Goya’s Paintings of the Royal Family

Paintings of the Royal Family




Spanish Romanticist painter Francisco de Goya is famous for many things. His anti-war paintings are some of the finest, and his infamous black paintings collection is among some of the darkest paintings known to the art. But, did you know that Goya was also the portrait painter for the royal court of Spain?

Believe it or not, it’s true. Goya spent over thirty years in the employment of the royal court and was fortunate enough to paint three generations of Monarchs. Over this period, he became friends with many of the figures in high society and painted portraits of some of the most historically significant figures of the time.

Goya’s Dukes, Duchesses, Generals, and Nobility paintings are extensive. Despite this, he never received any award or royal recognition for his work from the crown. Perhaps this fact, accompanied by the wars that followed, contributed to changing Goya’s view toward society. Nevertheless, his portraits are praised by critics and historians alike. WIthout any delay, let us know about Francisco de Goya.

King Charles III in Hunting Dress

Goya – Portrait Of Maria Teresa De Borbon Y Vallabriga

King Charles III was to be the first monarch Goya would paint. Goya became friends with the King’s brother-in-law and was introduced to the King’s court soon after. He was commissioned to paint a portrait of the King and, after its successful completion, was offered a job as the painter for the royal court.

Painted in the Romanticist style, the portrait depicts the elderly King in full hunting attire, complete with a rifle and hunting dog. Its heavy brushstrokes, light tone, and realistically grounded approach give this prestige piece its charm. Undoubtedly, it’s one of the well-known works of artist Francisco Goya.

It differs from other regal portraits because the King looks relaxed and happy. He is even smiling, which is a stark contrast from the usual portrait, which usually portrays them as looking overly serious and supremely important.

King Charles IV and his Family

After the death of King Charles III, Goya stayed on as the painter for King Charles IV and his family and was officially given the title of the First Court Painter. During this period, Goya painted the majority of his Royal portraits.

The portrait known as “King Charles and his Family” is widely regarded as one of Goya’s best and most well-known paintings. The painting was modeled after the portrait of Felipe V and his family. It lavishly portrays the King and his wife, alongside their children and close relatives.

The two male figures of the King and the Prince stand out as a sign of their inherent importance to the family in this life-sized painting. Interestingly enough, Goya also appears in the portrait’s background to signify himself as the court’s painter.

Queen Maria Luisa Wearing a Mantilla

One year before the painting of the iconic “King Charles and his Family” portrait, Goya was commissioned to produce individual portraits of the King and Queen. He painted King Charles IV in hunting attire just like his father previously, while painted the Queen wearing a mantilla.

A mantilla is a type of lace or silk scarf commonly worn by women in Spain at the time. It is unclear whether Goya himself decided to paint her this way or if it was a request from the Queen herself.

This may have been a decision to make the Queen seem more like the ordinary people by wearing something less fancy, in the same way, Goya painted the Kings in hunting attire instead of in regal costume. Whatever the case may be, this was the portrait that landed Goya the position as First Court Painter.

King Charles IV on Horseback

One of the quintessential prototypes for any portrait that depicts a person of high status in society is to paint them sitting on a horse. This image promotes strength and leadership for the leader, so it is fitting to depict a King or Queen riding one.

Furthermore, painting someone on a horse can have a whole host of different meanings. For example, if the horse has both front legs raised, the rider died in battle, whereas if the horse has one leg raised, it is known to indicate that the rider died after the battle from their wounds.

In the portrait of King Charles IV on Horseback, the horse is shown to have all four legs on the ground. The King sits proudly on his steed and looks a lot kinglier than in his hunting portrait. Goya also painted a portrait of Queen Maria in a similar fashion.

Fernando VII with the Royal Mantle

The final King Goya immortalized on canvas was King Fernando VII, the son of King Charles IV. Goya painted several portraits of the King throughout his reign as ruler of Spain. These portraits are perhaps the most historically significant due to the war in Spain.

Fernando VII was overthrown in 1808 by Joseph Bonaparte, the brother of the French Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte; however, despite speculation, it has never been proven if Goya ever painted the French invader or not.

Either way, Fernando VII had regained his crown by 1913, and a series of portraits were commissioned to commemorate the event. Goya painted the newly re-appointed King in the whole pageantry, complete with a royal scepter, medallion, and robes.


His portrait paintings are the most overlooked of all of Francisco Goya’s artistic achievements. However, they not only characterize the art style of Goya but also hold actual historical significance. Be sure to check out the complete works of the artist Francisco Goya online.


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