The Parasol

Goya was one of the great masters of Spanish painting. He was born in Fuendetodos, a small town in Aragon, in 1746. He began to study painting from an early age and soon showed signs of both genius and temperament. He offended his teachers by stating that his real inspiration came from Velazquez, Rembrandt and Nature.

In the 1760s, he moved to Madrid as a member of the family of Francisco Bayeu, who was one of the King’s court painters, and whose sister Josefa he had married. This led the way for him to enter Court, and provided him with his first commission, a series of cartoons or templates for tapestries that would decorate the Pardo, the Escorial and other royal houses, and whose subject matter was scenes from everyday life. The series featured The Parasol, The Pottery Vendor, Blind Man’s Buff and Children Playing Soldiers. The colours are so bright and so full of nuances that it was hard to find the right yarns to weave them with at the Royal Tapestry Factory. The factory still exists today and can be visited in Atocha, not far from the Prado Museum.

The Parasol is a fine example of the life of leisure enjoyed by the Madrid’s aristocracy. The lady’s manservant is holding a parasol over her to protect her from the strong sun. She seems to be waving at the viewer with the fan she holds in her right hand, while with the left she is stroking the little dog resting in her lap. The elegant composition is based on a diagonal line formed by the lady and the servant, and emphasized by the branch of a tree. The blue sky, the colourful clothing, the woman’s pretty face and headdress, all convey the casticismo, or typical manners and clothing of the Madrid populace, of which Court ladies were also very fond.

(c) (R) 2013, MUSMon com S.L.
Text (a) Catalina Serrano Romero
English translation (a) Thisbe Burns