Monday, 10 October 2011

Goya: Leocadia - Black Paintings 1820-23

Leocadia (or Leocardia) Weiss lived with Goya the last years of his life. She was hired as a housekeeper, bringing with her daughter Rosario. Goya taught Rosario painting and drawing skills, and she later had a career as a painter in France and Spain. Goya's will instructed that at his death she was to be treated as a "natural child." This has led to speculation that Goya fathered Rosario as he had known Leocadio for several years prior to hiring her. However, many Goya biographers say that the dating does not match up, that it is more likely that Leocadia's husband, whom she had divorced years earlier, was Rosario's father.

This painting of Leocadia is one of the fourteen "Black Paintings" executed by Goya upon the walls of his house in Madrid. X-rays of the image show that originally the figure leaned on a fireplace mantle, and that she was not dressed in mourning clothing, as shown here. The usual speculation is that Goya himself added the funeral aspects later, when mood, or old age, had moved him to give a different message to the image. 

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