Old Beggar with a Maja (1797 – 1799) by Francisco Goya

Old Beggar with a Maja - Francisco Goya - 1797 - 1799

Artwork Information

TitleOld Beggar with a Maja
ArtistFrancisco Goya
Date1797 - 1799
Art MovementRomanticism

About Old Beggar with a Maja

The artwork “Old Beggar with a Maja” was created by the renowned artist Francisco Goya between 1797 and 1799. It falls within the Romanticism movement and is categorized as a genre painting, which means it depicts scenes of everyday life.

The artwork captures a moment of interaction between two figures. On the left side of the composition stands an old beggar, clothed in garments that suggest a life of hardship and poverty. The most distinguishing feature is the beggar’s posture and expression, which carry the weight of lived experience. In contrast, on the right side, there is a maja—a term used at the time to describe a stylish, confident Spanish woman often from the lower classes known for her eye-catching attire and attitude. She is portrayed in a state of poise and self-assured demeanor, her costume rich in detail, demonstrating an elaborate fashion with layers and fine textiles that would have been contemporary for the period.

The interaction between these two figures, set against a sparse background, evokes an intriguing narrative. The stark contrast in their respective social statuses and outward appearances is evident, and it invites viewers to reflect on the social dynamics and inequalities of the time. Goya’s use of soft lines and the fluid depiction of fabrics adds a certain liveliness to the scene, suggesting movement and a fleeting moment caught in time. This piece, like many of Goya’s works from the genre painting tradition, serves as a social commentary subtly rendered through the artist’s masterful depiction of everyday life and character studies.

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