Goya's Third of May Painting

  By Francisco de Goya - The Prado in Google Earth: Home - 7th level of zoom, JPEG compression quality: Photoshop 8., Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=22615690Since it is May 3rd, I thought it would be interesting to look at Francisco Goya's painting, The Third of May, 1808. I have not had the pleasure of seeing Goya's work in person; however, visiting Spain is on my "bucket list". When I DO visit, I am going to make a point of going to the Museo del Prado in Madrid to see this painting, as well as all the other treasures in their collection. Until then, here is a list of ten things I have read or studied about the painting:

  1. The Third of May, 1808 was painted in 1814 by Spanish artist, Francisco de Goya.


  1. The painting is oil on canvas measuring some 8'9" x 13'4" and is located at the Museo del Prado in Madrid, Spain.


  1. This painting is also known as:
    • El tres de mayo de 1808 en Madrid;
    • Los fusilamientos de la montaña del Principe Pio; and/or
    • Los fusilamientos del tres de mayo


  1. The subject of the painting was a commemoration of the Spanish resistance to Napoleon’s armies as part of his plan to take control of Spain. On May 2, 1808, there was a rebellion against the French. In retaliation, the Spaniards were massacred in the streets on May 3, 1808 by the French armies. Keep in mind, this war predated the photography process, so painters were the primary vehicle for visual documentation. Goya created several paintings addressing this subject matter, however, THIS painting has been called the “world’s first modern painting”.


  1. Why is this painting considered one of the first paintings of the modern era? Well, I’m taking some liberties here, but here goes:
    • The painters of this era strived for beauty and perfection on the canvas. While Goya certainly had the technical skills to paint a “beautiful”, technically correct, painting, his work in this painting broke with the tradition of technically correct perspective, etc. to strengthen the story.
    • The painting is less about beauty and more about the impact of the events that happened.
    • The painting, even the brush strokes, seem to be less about perfection and more about the immediacy of capturing that one moment, as documentation, and well as feeling.


  1. Goya directs the viewer by employing the use of leading lines of the hill in the background, as well as the line of faceless, anonymous, army with their weapons pointing directly at the man dressed in white shirt and ochre trousers. He also uses the lighting (referred to as “chiaroscuro”) not only to give the painting a somber mood, but he also utilizes it to make the subject the brightest, lightest area of the painting, thereby directing the viewer’s attention.


  1. Goya also employs the iconography, or symbolism, of the Christian faith in this painting. The most obvious being the subject's pose, which has been compared to the Crucifixion. Additionally, if you look closely at the right hand of the subject, there appears to be a wound, or stigmata, in the palm of the hand, similar to a wound suffered from being nailed to the cross. (There are many more parallels, but I encourage you to look and read on your own if you are interested.)


  1. The painting may have been in “storage” for many years before it was shown to the public, and was part of the royal collection which was transferred to the Prado in 1819. As a bit of trivia, the painting has remained in Madrid, except for one relocation during the Spanish Civil War. While transporting this painting, as well as the Second of May, the truck was involved in an accident that resulted in damage to both Goya paintings.


  1. Goya’s painting influenced Édouard Manet (Execution of Emperor Maximillian), as well as Pablo Picasso (Massacre in Korea). Goya’s painting was again referenced as an influence in another famous Picasso painting: Guernica which addresses the aftermath of bombing during the Spanish Civil War.


  1. Goya’s painting possesses a timeless quality. Neither the landscape, nor the clothing is specific to a time nor location per se, which allows the painting’s message to remain as relevant today as 200 years ago.

If you are interested in reading more about Goya's painting, here are a few resources for you. Just click on the link:

Goya, Third of May, 1808, Khan Academy

Art historical analysis (Khan Academy video)

The Third of May 1808, Wikipedia

The Executions of the Third of May, 1808, Art Museums


A Touch of Green for Saint Patrick

Everything's Comin' Up Clover Have you ever wondered how the shamrock symbol is related to Saint Patrick's Day? In case there's anyone who hasn't heard the reason before now, I'd like to share a story one of the tour guides in Ireland told us about Saint Patrick reaching down, plucking a clover leaf, to use as a visual aid to explain the concept of the Holy Trinity. This just struck me as such quick thinking, as well as a practical and visual way to explain a sometimes difficult concept. The lovely little shamrock symbols are plentiful in Ireland, and you can even find them atop the Dublin street lamp posts. Oh Ireland (SIGH inserted here). I'm coming back to visit some day. But, until I do, this one day in March will have to suffice.

In honor of Saint Patrick's Day, here's an Irish Blessing for you, my friends.

May the road rise to meet you, may the wind be ever at your back. May the sun shine warm upon your face, and the rains fall soft upon your fields. And until we meet again, may God hold you in the palm of his hand.

Historic Day

1011_Italy_698 I just watched the news coverage of the announcement of Pope Francis. Wow! It was amazing to watch from afar. And, speaking of watching from afar, the images of the piazza and Vatican Square made me feel like I was in Rome and Vatican City, even though it's been over two years since I stood there. (The image above was taken inside St. Peter's Basilica if you don't recognize it.) What a momentous occasion and celebration for those vacationers and spring breakers who were there by chance.

A Wonderful Quote For Wednesday

Pink Tulips

"Be so strong that nothing can disturb your peace of mind. Talk health, happiness, and prosperity to every person you meet. Make all your friends feel there is something special in them. Look at the sunny side of everything. Think only the best, be as enthusiastic about the success of others as you are about your own.

Forget the mistakes of the past and press on to the greater achievements of the future. Give everyone a smile. Spend so much time improving yourself that you have no time left to criticize others. Be too big for worry and too noble for anger."

Norman Vincent Peale

April Irises

Iris This weekend I stopped by the log cabins because they have a lot of white irises, commonly referred to as "White Cemetery Iris", in bloom. These lovely white beauties last a short time in the spring, so you can't procrastinate. How do I know this? Because that is precisely what I did last year and missed getting any photos. Anyway, there were these two purple irises that really stood out, so I of course I tried to capture them (see the white ones in the background). I really didn't think much about it until I got home and uploaded my photos. As I was adding keywords, I did a quick search to make sure I was correctly identifying the flowers and found this on the Aggie Horticulture site:

"An often-repeated gardeners' tale about White Cemetery iris is that they "take over" patches of purple iris until very quickly the purple blooms are gone for good. Even though this should not happen if iris don't set seed, there are plenty of people who swear they have seen individual plants which began with purple flowers, then with purple and white, until finally only white remained."

Could this patch be in the midst of a "take-over"? Have you seen any other "take-overs" in your area? Well, that's it for useless trivia for now. Enjoy the irises because they don't last long.


  Tulip in Vase

Tulip (Macro)

I've been having fun practicing my macro photo skills lately. It has become a good excuse to buy myself flowers every now and then.

Tulip on Green

I plan to compose some more creative shots, but the flowers aren't lasting, and I haven't taken the time to pull out all of my props to set up a more pleasing composition. I'm also trying to experiment with some high key looks, so that has taken priority over the staging. It shouldn't be that hard but, I was trained back in the high-contrast world of black and white film photography, so it's been a struggle to figure out the best way to achieve the look I have in mind. I think I'm having trouble achieving the high-key look, mostly because it all seems counter-intuitive to me. Added to the learning curve is the fact that I tend to research the research and, days later, I'm afraid I'm no further along in the knowledge/skills area. (Oh, if only "Grasshopper" had a personal photography mentor with all the answers ...) The good news is that when it "clicks" for me, I'm going to OWN the knowledge and not just guess or hit a preset button. So, I'm considering these my warm-up exercises for those beautiful spring flowers that should be, hopefully, peeping out any day now.


I [Heart] Macro Photography

Just like black and white photography, I've always been smitten with macro photography. I was fortunate enough to take a Macro Photography Boot Camp from Mike Moats recently. I really admire his work and his workshop was a real treat. He even brought some of his macro photography booty to let us all practice taking our own photos. Here is the workings of a pocket watch he brought. Oh, and he even loaned me the 90mm lens I used on this bad boy! Now that's what a Boot Camp is all about people. ;-) Tick Tock

What I've Been Doing

I intended to be much more active with Social Media in 2013, but, clearly, I'm off to a dismal start. I also decided to shore up my Color Theory and Composition skills, which has taken on a life of it's own. The more I study, the more I want to learn and I've been neglecting everything else. I didn't think that posting any of my sketches, reading materials or color swatches would be of interest, so I didn't post anything and kept studying. See! Not so interesting. Time Consuming, but not interesting.

However, since the weather has been so lovely, I took a trip to the Botanical garden in Austin, Texas last week AND I was lucky enough to attend a photography workshop in Irving, Texas this weekend. I hope to work on a photo or two to show you this week. Hang in there with me.

The 2012 Party is Over!

As we look forward to beginning a new year with a fresh start, I'd be remiss if I didn't take a moment to wish each of you a 2013 full of abundant blessings, good health, and filled to the brim with rich moments for which memories are made. Thank you for giving me the gift of your time and support. Happy New Year!