Christ on the Mount of Olives Francisco de Goya Buy Art Prints Now
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Tom Gurney BSc (Hons) is an art history expert with over 20 years experience
Published on June 19, 2020 / Updated on October 14, 2023
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This lesser known piece from late in the career of Francisco de Goya features dramatic lighting and follows a key religious topic. The piece was finished in 1819, just a few years before the artist left to live in France for the rest of his days.

It was unfortunate that this artist's prominent role within Spanish society would ultimately make him a potential target with Spanish rulers during this period and so he shipped off to France. He would only return very occasionally in order to see his much loved grandson as well as to attend to various financial matters. Prior to the move he produced a number of paintings along religious themes, such as the one found here, titled Christ on the Mount of Olives. It now resides in the collection of the Escuelas Pías de San Antón in Madrid, Spain. Soon after this he would declare that he would not produce anymore work within this city and broadly kept to this promise.

Previous to this, Goya had mainly worked as a portrait painter, building up an impressive client list over several decades. He eventually became seen as one of the most in-demand artists and someone who could promote your own reputation, just by being in one of his paintings. Royalty and financial figures flocked to obtain his services and the artist would have no problem in obtaining well paid work over several decades. Whilst these requests would have limited his self-expression, he seemed happy enough to continue to work within this genre for most of his career.

The image in front of us captures Christ in an anxious, confused state. He will shortly be arrested, so according to religious scripture. He stares out with his arms wide open, desperate for guidance for a higher power. His life is well documented within the Bible and many artists have taken scenes from his life as inspiration for individual artworks. Some have even created fairly comprehensive surveys of his life in this way, but Goya himself was not as devoted to religious or historical art as others, and so these were more fleeting choices. Christ on the Mount of Olives was also the title of a Caravaggio painting, as well as a later piece by the Post-Impressionist painter, Paul Gauguin.