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Old Man Goya

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In 1792, when he was forty-seven, the Spanish painter Francisco de Goya contracted a serious illness that left him stone deaf. In this extraordinary book, Julia Blackburn follows Goya through the remaining thirty-five years of his life. It was a time of political turmoil, of war, violence, and confusion, and Goya transformed what he saw around him into visionary paintings, drawings, and etchings. These were also years of tenderness for Goya, of intimate relationships with the Duchess of Alba and with Leocadia, his mistress, who accompanied him to the end.

Blackburn’s singular distinction as a biographer is her uncanny ability to create a kaleidoscope of biography, memoir, history, and meditation—to think herself into another world. In Goya she has found the perfect subject. Visiting the towns Goya frequented, reading the revelatory letters that he wrote for years to a boyhood friend, investigating the subjects he portrayed, Julia Blackburn writes about the elderly painter with the intimacy of an old friend, seeing through his eyes and sharing the silence in his head.

With unprecedented immediacy and illumination, Old Man Goya gives us an unparalleled portrait of the artist.

From Publishers Weekly

Apr 08, 2002 – A portraitist for the Spanish aristocracy before being struck deaf after an illness in 1792, Goya (1746 1828) subsequently developed a bolder, rougher style of religious fresco, sided with the French after they invaded, was pardoned by the Spanish king in 1814, and lived a more and more reclusive life, finally going into exile in Bordeaux in his final four years. In a conceit familiar from her previous titles (including The Emperor's Last Island, where British writer Blackburn juxtaposed a chronicle of Napoleon on St. Helena with her own life and travels), this book is as much about Blackburn's life as it is the second half of Goya's. Blackburn free associates, for example, from memories of her mother's paint studio to episodes from the life of Goya, finding parallel grotesques in each world. She interlards her narrative of Goya's life with her own tourist trips tracking his movements through Spain and France to the point where it can be difficult to tell the sets of experiences apart. The faux na ve tone that dominates the book seems to be an attempt to imitate the art writer John Berger's famed "peasant" style, with vastly inferior results: "Goya the deaf man makes me think of a toad.... But before he was deaf he was able to hear and before he was old he was young." For those serious about Goya's life and work, this book obscures more than it reveals.
Old Man Goya
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  • $11.99
  • Available on iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Mac.
  • Category: Biographies & Memoirs
  • Published: Apr 30, 2002
  • Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
  • Seller: Penguin Random House LLC
  • Print Length: 258 Pages
  • Language: English
  • Requirements: To view this book, you must have an iOS device with iBooks 1.3.1 or later and iOS 4.3.3 or later, or a Mac with iBooks 1.0 or later and OS X 10.9 or later.

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