Goya: A Portrait of the Artist (Paperback)
  • Goya: A Portrait of the Artist (Paperback)

Goya: A Portrait of the Artist (Paperback)

Paperback 448 Pages
Published: 14/06/2022
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The first major English-language biography of Francisco Goya y Lucientes, who ushered in the modern era

The life of Francisco Goya (1746–1828) coincided with an age of transformation in Spanish history that brought upheavals in the country's politics and at the court which Goya served, changes in society, the devastation of the Iberian Peninsula in the war against Napoleon, and an ensuing period of political instability. In this revelatory biography, Janis Tomlinson draws on a wide range of documents—including letters, court papers, and a sketchbook used by Goya in the early years of his career—to provide a nuanced portrait of a complex and multifaceted painter and printmaker, whose art is synonymous with compelling images of the people, events, and social revolution that defined his life and era.

Tomlinson challenges the popular image of the artist as an isolated figure obsessed with darkness and death, showing how Goya's likeability and ambition contributed to his success at court, and offering new perspectives on his youth, rich family life, extensive travels, and lifelong friendships. She explores the full breadth of his imagery—from scenes inspired by life in Madrid to visions of worlds without reason, from royal portraits to the atrocities of war. She sheds light on the artist's personal trials, including the deaths of six children and the onset of deafness in middle age, but also reconsiders the conventional interpretation of Goya's late years as a period of disillusion, viewing them instead as years of liberated artistic invention, most famously in the murals on the walls of his country house, popularly known as the "black" paintings.

A monumental achievement, Goya: A Portrait of the Artist is the definitive biography of an artist whose faith in his art and his genius inspired paintings, drawings, prints, and frescoes that continue to captivate, challenge, and surprise us two centuries later.

Publisher: Princeton University Press
ISBN: 9780691234120
Number of pages: 448
Dimensions: 203 x 133 mm


"Winner of the PROSE Award in Biography & Autobiography, Association of American Publishers"

"A Publishers Weekly Top 10 Art, Architecture, & Photography Book of Fall 2020"

"One of The Sunday Times' Best Art Books of 2020"

"An impressive and scrupulous work of scholarship."---Michael Prodger, The Sunday Times

"Goya: A Portrait of the Artist [is] a newly informed chance to reflect on an artist of enigmatic mind and permanent significance. . . . Tomlinson addresses, with refreshing clarity, a chronic question of just how independent, not to say subversive, Goya was of the powers that employed him. . . . She admirably keeps the mysteries of Goya’s character distinct from its self-serving machinations."---Peter Schjeldahl, New Yorker

"[A] thorough and balanced biography. . . . Tomlinson is an excellent guide."---Robin Simon, Literary Review

"According to Janis Tomlinson, the great Spanish painter and etcher was not, as legend has it, a man who turned in on himself and . . . depicted a horror-haunted inner world with demons and witches everywhere, but a social creature who took on the cultural and folkloric currents of his time. Her Goya is no recluse, but shifts alongside his rapidly changing political masters." - Sunday Times

"If ever there was a time that demanded a fuller understanding of Francisco de Goya y Lucientes, that time is now. Goya navigated the tempestuous shoals around being a court painter and an independent humanist during the brutal period of Spain’s Imperial unraveling. In the process he emerged as arguably the first modern artist…[A] superlative study."---Christopher Knight, LA Times

"Tomlinson has produced an authoritative, reliable and thoroughly up-to-date biography that includes many insights into Goya’s social and political milieu during a time of unprecedented upheaval in Spain. . . . [The book offers] a detailed account of his life while simultaneously offering insights into the artist’s creative process and providing the reader with the opportunity to distinguish between the legends and the facts concerning many facets of Goya’s life and work."---Simon Lee, Burlington Magazine

"In Goya: A Portrait of the Artist, [Janis Tomlinson shows that] the painter was not the loner that he is sometimes imagined to be. . . . One of the pleasures of Tomlinson’s book lies in encountering the unvarnished details of Goya’s life; her delineation of the artist’s remarkably flexible political allegiances is especially engrossing."---Andrew Martin, Harper's Magazine

"[Tomlinson] is an expert, evenhanded guide and there is no question we are in the surest hands."---Maxwell Carter, Wall Street Journal

"Tomlinson’s detailed account of this long and productive life is discriminating and trustworthy. . . . Tomlinson has supplied a cool and corrective scholarly chronicle."---Julian Bell, New York Review of Books

"A passionate and well-researched biography. . . . Tomlinson refutes the common image of Goya as a dark, obsessive artist and attributes his success, instead, to his geniality and initiative. The writing is insightful, with Tomlinson’s pensive, philosophical tone mirroring her deep expertise and knack for critical thinking. This inspired, thoughtful work sheds new light on Goya and will enthrall any lover of fine art." - Publishers Weekly

"Tomlinson’s meticulous distillation of a voluminous number of parish records, drawings, notes, and letters is impressive, and her knowledge of and passion for Goya continually shine through in her writing, making for a fascinating and insightful reading experience. A top-notch biography." - Kirkus starred review

"This well-informed, comprehensive biography would make an excellent gift for an art lover. Tomlinson has fashioned a clear and informative biography that will appeal to Goya researchers and enthusiasts."---Alexander Adams, The Critic

"This masterly biography now puts the work into context and breathes life into the legend of the morose recluse."---Bel Mooney, The Daily Mail

"The 'portrait of the artist' painted by Tomlinson is that of a man able to adapt to an ever-changing political landscape. Her prose interweaves personal biography and major historical events with brief interludes of artistic description that whet the visual appetite. Reading it is like walking on a frozen lake, aware of the scholarly depth beneath but safe on top of the thick ice. Bite-size chap­ters transform the tome into a digestible and enjoyable read. . . . in a world brimming with books on Goya, this will surely stand as the definitive biography for years to come."---Isabelle Kent, Apollo

"Goya [is] a lucid, meticulously researched, and nuanced account of the life of the perennially fascinating Spanish painter, Francisco de Goya…[Janis] Tomlinson’s book is both a meticulous scholarly contribution and a highly accessible biography for the non-specialist reader. . . . Tomlinson’s tour de force is a profoundly sensitive and masterful portrait of one of the towering artists of the modern era."---Catherine M. Jaffe, Dieciocho

"Goya takes a fresh look at well-trodden misconceptions about the artist, exhuming details from parish records, court papers, newspapers, and other archives, and investigated how recent discoveries like an early sketchbook and new access to his letters provide insight into his six decades of art."---Allison C. Meier, Fine Books & Collections

"Francisco de Goya is often thought of as the reclusive, deaf and delusional artist who depicted drowning dogs, mutilated bodies and Saturn devouring his son…In Goya, the American art historian Janis Tomlinson goes some way to dispelling this perception, scouring primary resources — including the Spaniard’s letters, court papers and sketchbooks — to provide a more nuanced depiction." - Christie's

"Janet Tomlinson’s new biography restores [Goya] to his own times. . . . The pragmatic portrait of the artist offered by Tomlinson is one that makes compelling sense of the surviving textual evidence. . . . Tomlinson has provided the most reliable life of the artist to date."---Tom Stammers, London Review of Books

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