BLTC Press Titles

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Novalis Including Hymns to the Night

Novalis, George MacDonald, Thomas Carlyle

The Picture of Dorian Gray

Oscar Wilde

The Pictorial Key to the Tarot

Arthur Edward Waite

The Fairy Tale of the Green Snake and the Beautiful Lily

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Thomas Carlyle, Rudolf Steiner

Goya as portrait painter

by Aureliano Beruete y Moret


There could scarcely be a greater contrast than that between Muther's volume and the one which it is now my privilege to bring before the English public. In a brilliant synthesis of scarcely more than sixty pages, the German author of "The History of Modern Painting " created a wonderful picture, both of the artist himself and of the times in which he lived and worked, a picture in which—even if some details might be open to question—the vivid impression seized and held the imagination. The work of Senor D. Aureliano de Beruete y Moret, Director of the Prado Museum, is, on the other hand, a careful, complete, and authoritative analysis of the artist and his work in portraiture, decoration, and engraving, which will be indispensable to the future student or collector of Goya's work.

In the present volume we approach only one side of Goya's genius. The terrible analyst of his country and mankind in its weakness, cruelty, or folly, the magician whose pencil or graver can carry us into the land of witches, goblins, and monsters, the Goya of the "Caprichos," the "Desastres de la Guerra," and the wall paintings of the Quinta is not yet before us. We see here only Goya the portrait painter; but as such the master is no less great. I should say, indeed, with my knowledge of the present work, and after careful personal study when recently in Spain, that he is perhaps the greatest portraitist who ever lived.

Not alone this. He comes before us in this volume as the direct ancestor of all that is most real, most alive, in the manifestations of modern art. His deft fingers, guided by the insight of genius, caught up the torch of the past, and perpetuated the tradition handed down in his own land from the days of Greco and Velazquez. This tradition he was to develop in his own marvellous "grey" portraits (of which the finest are those of his son and of his brother-in-law, Francisco Bayeu); this tradition, as Sefior de Beruete has here so ably demonstrated, was, in his later work, to be the inspiration of the new movement which arose in Paris from i860 onwards, and with which the names of Monet, Degas, Cezanne, above all of Manet, are intimately and indissolubly connected. To understand this movement we have to go back to Francisco Goya; to understand Goya we shall find authoritative guidance in the present volume.

The punctuation—where it exists at all—in those wonderful lettres intimes of the artist to Martin Zapater I have left unaltered.




Le 30 Mars I 746

Est Mort Dans Cette Maison

Le 16 Avril 1828

THIS is what we are told by a memorial stone placed at a fair height upon a house of the Cours de l'lntendance, in the city of Bordeaux. These simple words, without any commentary, or indication of the activity for which the man to whom they are dedicated was distinguished, engraved as they are on a modest tablet, escape the notice of the majority of visitors to a city whose essential life is commercial. Likely enough, some passing reader may think Goya to have been an enthusiast, a philanthropist, who had befriended this country and whom chance, no doubt, had caused to be born at Fuendetodos in Spain; then, without thinking further of Goya, a name that would sound to him more Basque than French or Castilian, he will pursue his way.

But for those others to whom the name of Goya is a whole evocation, and those are already many in number, the tablet needs no more words or explanation. In that hospitable city, to which destiny had carried him in his last years, there had died, old indeed and infirm, but always active and fruitful, a Spanish genius whose work is a mirror in which is reflected, with faithful and unalterable forms, all the society of his time, from the king down to the beggars, giving us the exact sensation of something that we had thought of in a vague and confused manner. And all this Goya had expressed with that clearness of diction and with that sincerity which characterizes the great creations of Spain in all the arts.

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