It is said that the greatest artists have been given the gift of creating stories that last for centuries by the power of their brushstrokes alone.
One of them, known for depicting the horrors of Napoleonic foreign rule in his late work, is Francisco José de Goya y Lucientes, who was born in Spain in 1746.
As the king’s servant, one of his duties was to design tapestries for the residence of the ruling family, which are still among the most beautiful of their kind today.
For this he made small oil sketches and then worked them out into large-format pictures that served as the basis for the royal weavers.
“Boy on a ram” is part of a series to decorate the dining room of the Prince of Asturias.
The large panels of the room show the Four Seasons, a more traditional theme. But in the small panels above the doors, Goya could let his creativity run free and he invented scenes in which he depicted the world of children in a refreshingly natural way.
The picture of the little horseman was painted between 1786 and 1787. Against a backdrop that, despite its warm colours, seems like a backdrop, the boy and his animal stand out in a liveliness that bears witness to de Goya’s art of treating people.
This painting is perhaps not de Goya’s greatest and most popular work, but it shows the wonderful results of the simplest colours and the most austere brushstrokes in the hands of a master.