The Third of May 1808 (Execution of the Defenders of Madrid) (1814) by Francisco Goya

The Third of May 1808 (Execution of the Defenders of Madrid) - Francisco Goya - 1814

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Artwork Information

TitleThe Third of May 1808 (Execution of the Defenders of Madrid)
ArtistFrancisco Goya
Dimensions266 x 345 cm
Art MovementRomanticism
Current LocationMuseo del Prado, Madrid, Spain

About The Third of May 1808 (Execution of the Defenders of Madrid)

“The Third of May 1808 (Execution of the Defenders of Madrid)” is a renowned painting by the Spanish master Francisco Goya, completed in 1814. It embodies the Romanticism movement and is rendered in oil on canvas, measuring 266 cm by 345 cm. This compelling history painting is held at the Museo del Prado in Madrid, Spain, where it continues to evoke strong emotional responses from viewers worldwide.

The artwork represents a poignant moment in the aftermath of the Dos de Mayo Uprising, depicting the execution of Spanish patriots by French soldiers. In the foreground, the lifeless bodies of executed citizens lie atop a blood-stained ground, underscoring the grim reality of war. Standing prominently in the center is a man with outstretched arms, clad in white, his stance reminiscent of a martyr as he faces the firing squad. The stark contrast between his illuminated figure and the surrounding darkness heightens the dramatic tension of the scene.

The executioners are shown as an anonymous group, their backs to the viewer, which depersonalizes them and thereby emphasizes their role as instruments of war. The darkened landscape in the background, featuring an indistinct skyline, creates a sense of isolation and underlines the sense of despair. Goya’s masterful use of lighting and composition not only conveys the brutality of the event but also serves as a powerful statement against the atrocities of war.

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