Charles IV of Spain and His Family

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Charles IV of Spain and His Family
Spanish: La familia de Carlos IV
La familia de Carlos IV.jpg
Artist Francisco Goya
Year 1800-1801
Medium Oil on canvas
Dimensions 280 cm × 336 cm (110 in × 132 in)
Location Museo del Prado, Madrid

Charles IV of Spain and His Family is an oil on canvas painting by the Spanish artist Francisco Goya who began work on this painting in 1800 and completed it in the summer of 1801. It features life sized depictions of Charles IV of Spain and his family, ostentatiously dressed in fine costume and jewelry, the painting was modeled after Velázquez's Las Meninas when setting the royal subjects in a naturalistic and plausible setting.[1]

The royal family is apparently paying a visit to the artist's studio, while Goya can be seen to the left looking outwards towards the viewer, as in "Las Meninas," the artist is shown working on a canvas, of which only the rear is visible; however, the atmospheric and warm perspective of the palace interior of Velázquez's work is replaced in the Goya by a sense of, in the words of Gassier, "imminent suffocation" as the royal family are presented by Goya on a "stage facing the public, while in the shadow of the wings the painter, with a grim smile, points and says: 'Look at them and judge for yourself!'"[2]


Goya - Charles IV of Spain and His Family (with numbers).jpg

The barely visible man in the background shadows at the left is Goya himself (2). Others are, left to right:


The French writer Theophile Gautier called it a 'picture of the corner grocer who has just won the lottery' and it has sometimes been believed that Goya was in some way satirising his subjects, the idea has been dismissed however by the art critic Robert Hughes ; 'This is nonsense. You didn't manage to keep your job as an official court portraitist if you were satirising the people you were painting. No, this is not a send up. If anything it is an act of flattery, for instance on the left, in the blue suit, is one of the most odious little toads in the entire history of Spanish politics, the future King Ferdinand VII, whom Goya actually manages to make quite regal. God knows how he did it, but he has, this is very much an act of respect, almost verging on an act of flattery." [5]


  1. ^ Gassier (1995), 69–73
  2. ^ Gassier (1989), 66
  3. ^ Carlos IV de España con su familia at[permanent dead link]
  4. ^ Edward J. Olszewski – Exorcising Goya's "The Family of Charles IV" Archived 2012-12-24 at the Wayback Machine.
  5. ^ Goya, Crazy like a Genius, An Oxford Film and Television Production for BBC and RM associates


  • Buchholz, Elke Linda. Francisco de Goya. Cologne: Könemann, 1999. ISBN 3-8290-2930-6
  • Gassier, Pierre. Goya. Rizzoli International Publications, 1989. ISBN 0-8478-1108-5
  • Gassier, Pierre. Goya: Biographical and Critical Study. New York: Skira, 1995. 69–73
  • Davies, Denny, Hofrichter, Jacobs, Roberts, Simon. Janson's History of Art. Prentice Hall, London, 2011. 824–825. ISBN 0-205-68517-X

External links[edit]

External video
smARThistory – Goya, The Family of Charles IV