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Bayeu, Francisco

Zaragoza, 1734 - Madrid, 1795

This Spanish painter began his studies in Zaragoza at the workshop of Bohemian painter Juan Andrés Merklein. He also studied drawing with José Luzán Martínez. In 1758, he obtained a two-year pension to study at the Academy of San Fernando in Madrid, although he quit after just two months following disagreements with professor Antonio González Veláquez. Bayeu then returned to his native city, where he carried out several commissions for churches and convents, including the Aula Dei Charterhouse. Anton Raphael Mengs called him back to Madrid in 1762 to help him with the decoration of the New Palace, and thanks to Mengs, he also participated in numerous other decorative projects for the Royal Seats. In 1767, this led to his appointment as chamber painter. He was active mainly as a fresco painter, and in 1768, he painted images of Hercules on Mount Olympus for the dome of the conversation room in the Prince and Princess of Asturias’s quarters. Bayeu combined his court obligations with commissions from the authorities in Zaragoza, including the domes for the Holy Chapel at the Basilica of Nuestra Señora del Pilar, which he completed in 1776. Among his religious compositions, we could also mention an important group of eleven scenes that he painted for the cloister of Toledo Cathedral between 1776 and 1787. He then undertook the decoration of the royal chapel at Aranjuez Palace. After Mengs left for Rome in 1777, Francisco Bayeu assumed all of his obligations without, however, receiving the corresponding post. As Meng’s substitute, Bayeu was also responsible for the artistic chores at the Royal Tapestry Factory of Santa Bárbara. He made models for cartoons carried out by his brother and supervised cartoons by Goya, who had been his brother-in-law since 1773. In 1785, at the behest of Charles III, Bayeu and Maella undertook the restoration of paintings in the royal collections. By that time, Bayeu’s father had died, leaving him in charge of a large family. This obliged him to increase his workload so much that it eventually ruined his health. When he fell ill in 1786, Goya became his substitute at the Academy of San Fernando, where Bayeu became director of painting in 1788. His commissions were continuous, and the Prince and Princess of Asturias designated him to decorate the dome of the dining room at the El Pardo Palace. In an effort to recover his health, Bayeu returned to Zaragoza, only to be called to Aranjuez in 1791. There, he made paintings for the Royal Palace’s prayer chapel and the dome in the king’s bedroom, which was his final work before dying in 1795. Influenced by Giaquinto’s painting, and by the decoration of the dome at Zaragoza Cathedral, which González Veláquez had painted on the basis of Giaquinto’s sketches in 1753, Bayeu began his career as one of the most outstanding exponents of late-baroque Spanish painting. After Mengs arrived, Bayeu became his most faithful follower, fully assimilating his neoclassical principles. Accordingly, his figures are presented with contained postures, the coloring is local, and his approach to lighting abandons the strong chiaroscuro contrasts that characterize his earlier work. In the palace domes, he reflects Mengs’s classical schemes and proportions with technical and pictorial resources drawn from Giaquinto. While his finished works are cold and academic, his sketches reveal his late-baroque side, with rapid, fluent brushstrokes and vivid, exquisite colors (Reuter, A. en Enciclopedia, 2006, tomo II, pp. 463-471).

His portrait by Francisco de Goya y Lucientes at the Museo del Prado bears the number P000721.

Artworks (456)

San Francisco de Sales
Oil on canvas, XVIII century
Bayeu y Subías, Francisco
Allegories of Agriculture and Trade
Oil on canvas, XVIII century
Bayeu y Subías, Francisco
Allegory of Victory
Oil on canvas, XVIII century
Bayeu y Subías, Francisco
Sketch of the Triumph of the Holy Cross for the ceiling of the Royal Palace in Madrid
Oil on canvas, XVIII century
Bayeu y Subías, Francisco
Allegories of Fame and Victory
Oil on canvas, XVIII century
Bayeu y Subías, Francisco
The Assumption of the Virgin
Oil on canvas, Ca. 1760
Bayeu y Subías, Francisco
The Surrender of Granada
Oil on canvas, Ca. 1763
Bayeu y Subías, Francisco
Saint Teresa of Avila in Glory
Oil on canvas, 1760 - 1770
Bayeu y Subías, Francisco
Pentecost
Oil on canvas, Ca. 1769
Bayeu y Subías, Francisco

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