Francisco Goya ‘s paintings: Summer
This month, Yareah magazine topic is about Summer. Then, hinking of a painting which represents this season, we have chosen one by Francisco de Goya called, precisely, ‘Summer’ or ‘The Threshing Floor’. The subject of the painting is this happy moment when peasants are resting in the threshing floor after collecting the wheat. A good harvest during the summer meant a good year, with bread to eat and, therefore, well-fed people who would be strong enough to resist diseases. On the contrary, a bad harvest meant despair. Goya made this painting in 1786 for the king Charles III of Spain. It was the Enlightenment, a positive period of positive ideas. The king had commended him to paint the four seasons to decorate the dining room of the Pardo palace …, but he wanted happy topics which boosted the spirit of the guests. Therefore, Goya painted a threshing floor full of collected wheat (right background), where three groups of people of all ages (foreground) are celebrating and drinking wine. We see also a beautiful castle (left background) as a symbol of richness and force… The king was satisfied with the result.
Francisco Goya (Francisco de Goya) had a tough career. It was not a successful painter from the beginning and he had to twist his way once and again to get his objectives. Born in 1746 in a little village (Fuendetodos) near Zaragoza (Northwest of Spain), he had to marry the sister of Francisco Bayeu, an important painter of that time, to move to the capital: Madrid. In Madrid, Goya started to work for a tapestry factory (Santa Barbara) drawing and coloring sketches on cardboard which would serve to make the tapestry. ‘The Summer’ is one of them.
He was not very happy with his job. The strict rules for the sketches didn’t suit Goya’s personality. He wanted to draw complicate compositions, sometimes impossible of weaving. Discussions with the factory bosses were frequent. Summer, for instance, satisficed the king but not the factory weavers. How to weave Goya’s atmospheric perspective? How to weave so many tones for
the sky? How to weave clearly so many people playing above each other?
Fortunately, Goya had begun to be admired as a portraitist among rich people in Madrid and he soon obtained a royal painter position. Now, his discussions were different. He started to disagree with Mengs and the rules of the Academy of Fine Arts. Always it was a rebel.
In spite of the peaceful atmosphere of ‘The Threshing Floor’, Goya shows here his personality. On the top of this pyramidal composition, there are three naughty boys larking (maybe as he did years ago). Adults are drinking and not very interested in the boys, only a mother and a father are taking care of their children (as sensible people of the Enlightenment) and a man is working (another who follow the social rules). Definitely, Goya cheated the king, and this picture is more Baroque than Neoclassic. Why was Charles III so satisfied with Goya? A mystery, perhaps the king was cheating us too, perhaps he was also a naughty person.
**Down a good video to understand how far Goya was of the Enlightenment and its ‘reasonably’ happy strict rules: