Majas on the balcony, Goya

Majas on the balcony, Goya
Majas on the balcony, Goya

The War of Independence against France was a turning point for Goya. On the one hand, the artist experienced in his own flesh the horror of the conflict, death, violence and hardship that devastated every corner of Spain. In this context, it is easy for us to imagine how the artistic commissions were detrimental as the conflict progressed, however, the instability of the time meant that the neoclassical artist could dedicate himself to painting other types of canvases, far from the impositions of clients and much more personal. As with the engravings, the works on canvas that Goya made at this time focus on gender themes through which the artist can criticize the vices of society.

On this occasion we analyze a canvas known as Majas on the balcony and that would date from the early nineteenth century, specifically between 1810 and 1812. The work has a vertical format and measures about one hundred and seventy centimeters high and almost four hundred and twenty inches wide. In it the artist has represented dos majas, that is, two young girls dressed in the typical costume of the time, who appear leaning out of the balcony to attract the attention of men. Behind them appear two muffled men with ample musculature.

The Goya painting Majas on a Balcony

The Goya painting Majas on a Balcony.

According to the experts twotheories about the interpretation of the canvas, on the one hand, some think the artist has represented two young women of high social position -certainly they are represented in elegant clothes- who look out on the balcony to contemplate the crowd while they are watched by some bodyguards in the lower area. A second interpretation, on this occasion more accurate than the first or so it seems to be according to the opinion of most critics, is that the two young women that Goya represents leaning out of the balcony are nothing more than prostitutes who try to attract the attention of their clients while that their pimps watch them from the rear.

Be that as it may, the truth is that on the canvas the artist has achieved a spectacular representation of the materials, especially in the costumes worn by the young women. In the layout we can see how the artist has useda low-angle perspective from bottom to top,as if he were looking at them from under the balcony; in this arrangement the influence of the cartoons for tapestries that Goya painted for the Royal Tapestry Factory of San Fernando can be appreciated.

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