Portrait of José de Palafox by Goya

Portrait of José de Palafox by Goya
Portrait of José de Palafox by Goya

This painting by Francisco de Goya is considered the third of the great triad of works dedicated to the War of Independence in Spain against France. A trio that would be formed by the canvases of The Charge of the Mamelukes, the Executions of Moncloa and this portrait of General José de Palafox.


Goya's General Palafox

All of them are paintings made in 1814 and they are all in the Museo del Prado in Madrid.

In this case, the person represented is José de Palafox, originally as Goya from Zaragoza. Although the general belonged to an aristocratic family and from a young age he was trained to be a high-ranking army officer. And once the war broke out, he declared himself a firm supporter of King Carlos IV, and although in 1808 he was ordered to join the monarch in his exile in Irun, he did not follow orders and returned to his native Zaragoza where he himself declared war on Napoleon, and tried to defend the city for months in the face of brutal harassment from Gallic battalions.

Although in the end he had to surrender, and not only that, he also ended up in prison for a few months in France. However, when he ended the war and returned to ruleFerdinand VII, he was awarded the highest honors for services rendered. In fact, in 1814 he was appointed Captain General and that was surely the reason why hecommissioned this painting from his countryman Goya. Although the truth is that he commissioned it, but since he did not pay for it, the painter did not give it to him. So Palafox did not have the work in his possession until he paid for it in 1831 toJavier de Goya, and by then the artist had already died

From an artistic point of view, it is possibly the best equestrian portrait of Goya, above those he made of members of the royal family, such as Carlos IV himself or his wife Maria Luisa of Parma. And it is that it is a much more natural and instantaneous representation, giving the sensation that he has painted it just at that moment in which he goes with all his courage towards the battle.

Without a doubt, as a source of inspiration Goya observed in the royal collection the great works of Velázquez, among which there is no shortage of equestrian portraits such as those he made at King Felipe IV or Prince B altasar Carlos. And those were the great references when undertaking this portrait of Palafox, although before that he made a bust of the general as a preparation for the final portrait on horseback.

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