The Forge (c. 1817) by Francisco Goya

The Forge - Francisco Goya - c.1812 - c.1816

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Artwork Information

TitleThe Forge
ArtistFrancisco Goya
Datec.1812 - c.1816
MediumOil on Canvas
Dimensions181.6 x 125 cm
Art MovementRomanticism
Current LocationFrick Collection, New York City, NY, US

About The Forge

“The Forge” is an oil on canvas painting by Francisco Goya, created approximately between 1812 and 1816. This artwork falls within the Romanticism movement and is characterized as a genre painting. It measures 181.6 by 125 centimeters and presently resides in the Frick Collection in New York City, New York, United States.

The artwork presents a dramatic glimpse of labor and physical toil. The scene is set within the dusky interior of a blacksmith’s forge. Three figures dominate the composition, each depicted in mid-action, engaged in the arduous process of shaping metal. The central figure, muscular and shirtless, wields a large hammer over an anvil where a heated piece of metal rests. His stance and the motion of his arms capture the precise moment of exertion, embodying the strenuous nature of the work.

To the right, another worker assists by holding the piece steady with tongs, his brow furrowed with concentration. The left side features a younger laborer who intently watches the process, his hands resting on the anvil, seemingly in anticipation of his own involvement. Goya’s application of light accentuates the musculature of the men, emphasizing the strength required in their occupation while the shadows contribute to the dramatic atmosphere of the setting.

Contrasts in light and dark, the focus on commonplace subjects, and the gritty realism of their facial expressions and poses are hallmarks of Goya’s style during this period. The painting can be seen as a celebration of human labor and strength as well as a social commentary on the working class.

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