The Greasy Pole (1786 – 1787) by Francisco Goya

The Greasy Pole - Francisco Goya - 1786 - 1787

Artwork Information

TitleThe Greasy Pole
ArtistFrancisco Goya
Date1786 - 1787
Dimensions169 x 88 cm
Art MovementRomanticism
Current LocationPrivate Collection

About The Greasy Pole

“The Greasy Pole” is an artwork by Francisco Goya, created in the period between 1786 and 1787. Goya employed oil on canvas as his medium to craft this piece, which measures 169 by 88 centimeters. The artwork belongs to the Romanticism movement and is classified as a genre painting. Currently, it resides within a private collection.

The artwork depicts a scene of vibrant, exuberant activity centered around a tall, slender pole that aggressively pierces the canvas from the bottom edge to the very top, with its apex adorned with decorative elements. The pole, which is the focal point of the piece, portrays the challenge of the greasy pole, a folk game where individuals attempt to climb to the top to retrieve a prize. One can observe several figures clambering up the structure, struggling against the slick surface, each at a different stage of ascent or descent, indicating both effort and movement.

A spectator crowd is gathered around the base of the pole, illustrating the communal aspect of the event. The figures are depicted with broad, swift brushstrokes, showcasing a variety of responses, from keen involvement to casual observation. The composition of the artwork is dynamic, with the pole acting as a strong vertical axis contrasting against the horizontal plane formed by the spectators and the surrounding landscape. Light and shadow are used to create depth and emphasize the forms of the figures. Goya’s palette is muted, yet it retains a richness that captures the atmosphere of the scene successfully.

In the background, the setting is composed of a serene sky which transitions from a light to deeper blue, suggestive of the time of day perhaps advancing towards evening. The contrast between the tranquil backdrop and the energetic activity in the foreground encapsulates a moment of traditional festivity, fusing the everyday lives of the people with a sense of dramatic narrative – a hallmark of Goya’s work within Romanticism. The artwork serves not only as a visual record of cultural practices of the time but also as an exploration of human emotion and community interaction.

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