The Family of Carlos IV belongs to a series of royal portraits begun by Goya in 1799, on the eve of Napoleon’s Consulate, which promised to pacify the tumultuous past decade. Goya placed the fourteen figures depicted in an austere interior without carpets, decorating only the back wall. The painting is based, as has often been claimed, on Las Meninas of 1656. The modifications made by the artist from Zaragoza differed from Velázquez’s details, such as the definition of space (none in this work) and the close relationship of Velázquez’s figures as opposed to the introspective depictions of arlos IV’s family. In the centre of the painting is the figure of the queen, dressed like the other infantas in a brilliant French-style dress, on which she wears the sash of the Royal Order of Noble Ladies founded by her in 1794. In addition, she imitates the Infanta’s posture, which several historians considered to be a satire on the Queen because of her advanced age. Emerging from the half-light, Ferdinand appears dressed in the blue of the principality of Asturias. His brother, Carlos María Isidro, holds him by the waist, a curious attitude that could be interpreted as a predisposition to succeed Ferdinand if necessary, and which seems to announce his intention in 1833 to claim the throne for his niece Isabella, a fact that would lead to the future Carlist Wars. The lady in lost profile represents Ferdinand’s future wife, thought to be Caroline of Saxe-Weimar, until in 1802 it was Maria Antonia of Naples. King Charles IV is depicted in full dress, with a golden fleece, and bands and badges of the order of Charles III, the Neapolitan order of San Gennaro and the four Spanish orders (Santiago, Montesa, Calatrava and Alcántara).
Project: 4. Family, daily life and social inequality in Europe., 5. Power and powers in the history of Europe: oligarchies, political participation and democracy.
Scope: Secondary Education, Baccalaureate, University
Resource type: Image
Format: Oil on canvas (280 x 336 cm)
Source: Museo Nacional del Prado (Madrid)
Owner: Álvaro Romero González (Modernalia)
Copyright: Museo del Prado (Madrid)
Abstract: Goya immortalised the family of Charles IV in a canvas with a variety of political viewsImage