Old Man Goya (eBook)
In 1792, when he was forty-seven, the Spanish painter Francisco de Goya contracted a serious illness that left him stone deaf. In this extraordinary book, Julia Blackburn follows Goya through the remaining thirty-five years of his life. It was a time of political turmoil, of war, violence, and confusion, and Goya transformed what he saw around him into visionary paintings, drawings, and etchings. These were also years of tenderness for Goya, of intimate relationships with the Duchess of Alba and with Leocadia, his mistress, who accompanied him to the end.
Blackburn’s singular distinction as a biographer is her uncanny ability to create a kaleidoscope of biography, memoir, history, and meditation—to think herself into another world. In Goya she has found the perfect subject. Visiting the towns Goya frequented, reading the revelatory letters that he wrote for years to a boyhood friend, investigating the subjects he portrayed, Julia Blackburn writes about the elderly painter with the intimacy of an old friend, seeing through his eyes and sharing the silence in his head.
With unprecedented immediacy and illumination, Old Man Goya gives us an unparalleled portrait of the artist.
About the Author
Julia Blackburn is the author of three books of nonfiction, Charles Waterton, The Emperor’s Last Island, and Daisy Bates in the Desert, and of two novels, The Book of Color and The Leper’s Companions, both of which were shortlisted for the Orange Prize. She lives in England.
Praise for Old Man Goya…
“Extraordinary . . . Throughout, the writer’s evocations of Goya’s work are not just intensely visual but virtually audible . . . Blackburn writes to startling effect.” —The New York Times
“[Blackburn’s] real talent is in conjuring up lives . . . You have the uncanny sensation that you have met Goya, felt his honest horny hands, watched him work.” —The Economist
“[Blackburn’s] rare imagination and profound intelligence . . . carry her into the mind and the work of Francisco de Goya . . . Each image, exquisite in its plainness, draws us first into the landscape, then into the past, a process Blackburn repeats until we are mesmerized.” —The Boston Globe
“[A] singular, empathetic homage….Blackburn's attempt to see with Goya's eyes…is most successful and moving. . . .She writes like a painter of still lives.” —The Observer (London)
“Blackburn’s prose is elegant and precise, illuminated by intelligence, curiosity, and a refined visual sense . . . [She] beautifully conveys the changed reality of the newly deaf painter.” —Literary Review