The Straw Manikin 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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The Straw Manikin is commonly known as El pelele, which is its original Spanish name. It was painted between 1791 and 1792, and it depicts four young women tossing a doll using a blanket. You should note that the doll being tossed has a male appearance, and the women are smiling as they toss it.

As noted by The Museo Nacional del Prado in Madrid, one aim of the painting was to show women's domination over men at the time. Robert Hughes, an Australian-born art critic, notes that the painter intended to show that traditional Spanish masculinity was waning. It is worth noting that the theme of waning traditional masculinity is evident in several other paintings by Francisco de Goya. One of the paintings that present this theme is known as Feminine Folly or Disparate Femenino. This one belongs to a series that was started in 1815 and reflected Goya's personal and historical perspective. The Caprichos series also has many examples of paintings that show the theme of women's domination of men.

The Straw Manikin was made as part of the Goya's last series of tapestry cartoons. It was initially made for Charles IV as Goya was employed as the court painter at the time. In fact, it was the first painting he made as the official court painter. As such, the piece would be owned by the Royal Collections. In 1870, the painting fell under the ownership of the Prado National Museum. It is interesting to note that Napoleon took over the Spanish territory while Goya was working in the court, and the painter kept his job during and after the French occupation of Spain.

The Straw Manikin was painted using the oil on canvas technique. This painting method was popularized in Europe during the Italian Renaissance in the 16th century, and it was preferred because it was easy to use in humid environments. Compared to wood panels, canvas was also easier to carry around as it is light and can be rolled. Another important benefit of oil painting is that it dries slowly, giving painters a chance to fix any issues in the painting. This painting was made during the Romanticism revolution, of which Goya was part. Because of works such as The Straw Manikin, Goya came to be known as the last of the Old Masters. Later, he would also earn the title of being the first of the moderns.

The Straw Manikin in Detail Francisco de Goya