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  • Francisco de Goya
    Mar 30, 1746 - Apr 16, 1828
  • Saints Justa and Rufina - Francisco José de Goya y Lucientes was a Spanish romantic painter and printmaker. He is considered the most important Spanish artist of late 18th and early 19th centuries and throughout his long career was a commentator and chronicler of his era. Immensely successful in his lifetime, Goya is often referred to as both the last of the Old Masters and the first of the moderns.
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Saints Justa and Rufina
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  • Saints Justa and Rufina

  • Francisco de Goya
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  • 1817
    Oil on canvas
    309 cm (121.65 in.) x 177 cm (69.69 in.)
    Catedral de Sevilla, Seville, Spain.

    Two young women stare up into the sky, as a beam of light strikes down upon them. This powerful artwork from Francisco de Goya was titled Saints Justa and Rufina and was completed in 1819. It is now in Seville Cathedral.
    We do know that the artist produced several different versions of this composition, including one two years earlier that now resides in the Prado Collection in Madrid. Interestingly, the building that we see in the far distance is the same Seville Cathedral that now display this piece, which feels particularly fitting. Looking at this version, we find a general cityscape across the background, using light tones which merge with the sky above. The brightest, more dominant tones are reserved for the two women. They wear matching black dresses with brightly coloured shawls falling from their shoulders. An animal is pictured by their side, certainly serving no threat as such to them. It is hard to determine its identity, but a lion seems the most likely explanation.

    Around their feet is a selection of broken items, including the head of a statue. These all serve symbolic value, as do the items that they hold in their hands. We find quills as well as food, which appears to perhaps be an offering to a higher being. They look up into the sky whilst showing these items, and the light upon them gives the impression that someone is looking down on them and studying their gifts. Goya was coming towards the end of his career by this stage, and was entirely confident in his brushwork, though continuing to struggle with various health problems that had dogged him for several decades and were slowly becoming more and more of an impediment to his work. Just several years later, Goya would flee Spain and take up residence in the French city of Bordeaux because of the political instability within his native country.

    The completed painting now adorns the altarpiece at the Sacristy of los Cálices in Seville Cathedral. Many oil sketches were produced in preparation for this piece, where essentially an oil painting with reduced detail and layering of oils helps to plan the final piece but without spending too much time on each one. The women hold up clay pots which represents their role as potters. They also hold the palms of martyrdom, something granted to them for their refusal to worship an image of the goddess, Venus. The painting was initially commissioned in 1817, hence the arrival of study pieces in that year, but it would be another two years before the final painting was completed and put in place at last. Goya himself is known to have travelled to the city in order to understand where the painting would hang, prior to finishing it off.

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Other paintings by Francisco de Goya:

Saturn Devouring His Son
Saturn Devouring His Son
A Dead Turkey
A Dead Turkey
A Military Officer and his Wife
A Military Officer and his Wife
A Picnic
A Picnic
Francisco de GoyaFrancisco José de Goya y Lucientes (b. March 30, 1746, Fuendetodos, Spain--d. April 16, 1828, Bordeaux, Fr.), consummately Spanish artist whose multifarious paintings, drawings, and engravings reflected contemporary historical upheavals and influenced important 19th- and 20th-century painters.

Like Velazquez, Goya was a Spanish court painter whose best work was done apart from his official duties. He is known for his scenes of violence, especially those prompted by the French invasion of Spain. The series of etchings Los desastres de la guerra ("The Disasters of War", 1810-14) records the horrors of the Napoleonic invasion. His masterpieces in painting include The Naked Maja and The Clothed Maja (c. 1800-05). He also painted charming portraits such as Senora Sabasa Garcia.

For the bold technique of his paintings, the haunting satire of his etchings, and his belief that the artist's vision is more important than tradition, Goya is often called "the first of the moderns." His uncompromising portrayal of his times marks the beginning of 19th-century realism.