The Parasol

Francisco Goya
Keywords: Parasol

Work Overview

The Parasol
Spanish: El Quitasol
Artist Goya
Year c. 1777
Type Oil on linen
Dimensions 104 cm × 152 cm (40 3⁄4 in × 59 1⁄4 in)
Style   Romanticism
Genre   genre painting
Location Museo del Prado, Madrid

The Parasol (also known as El Quitasol) is one of a cartoon series of oil on linen paintings made by the painter Francisco Goya. This series of paintings was specifically made in order to be transformed into tapestries that would be hung on the walls of the Royal Palace of El Pardo in Madrid, Spain. The tapestries showed serene events in everyday life, which made them a nice addition to the dining room of Prince and Princess of Asturias—the future King Charles IV and Maria Luisa of Parma. The queen called on Goya because she wanted to decorate the dining room with cheerful scenes; The Parasol and the other tapestry paintings were Goya's response to this request. The painting is currently located in the Museo del Prado in Madrid as is another in the series, Blind man's bluff.

On July 25, 1773, Goya married Josefa, the sister of Francisco Bayeu. Bayeu was a member of the Royal Academy of Fine Art and helped Goya to secure his place with the Royal Tapestry Workshop. He designed 42 patterns in five years that would soon insulate and decorate the walls of the Palacio Real de El Pardo. This series of tapestries demonstrated Goya's talent enough to give him access to the Royal Court, and drastically change his career. Goya went on to expand his patrons and paint for many royal court members, such as the Count of Floridablanca, of whom he painted a portrait under commission. This all led up to the peak of Goya's career, during the reign of Charles IV, right after the French revolution.

In his paintings, Goya often joins French fashion to the Spanish one. The woman in this particular painting is sitting on the ground, possibly resting from a long walk. She is dressed in French style, according to the time period. She is holding a fan in her right hand, while a little dog is cuddled in her lap. The young man is holding the parasol (umbrella) in order to shade the woman's face. He is dressed in the so-called majo style, meaning he is dressed like a poor person for the time period. His hair gathered in a net, and his belt is made of colorful silk. In the background we can see dark clouds in the sky and the trees swaying in the wind, possibly signaling a storm coming. The painting has very calm warmth it emits, which is then offset by the tree that seems to be blowing in pretty strong wind. The way the boy is standing, with one foot on the rock and one not, he seems to be triumphantly shading the woman from the harmful rays of the sun, and the possible storm.

From 1775 to 1792 Goya painted his cartoons (designs) for the tapestries. This was his first genre of paintings and possibly the most important period in his artistic development. Painting the tapestries helped Goya become a keen observer of human behavior, which helped him paint his future paintings. Goya was influenced by neoclassicism, which was gaining favor over the rococo style at the time. This particular painting is considered classicism for its relation to everyday life. Around this same time, Goya began painting portraits for many of the Spanish Monarchs. This was his first popular success that ultimately changed his career. He was then elected to the Royal Academy of San Fernando in 1780, named painter to the king in 1786, and made a court painter in 1789.

This tapestry cartoon depicts a young woman. She is sitting, with a dog on her lap, and is accompanied by a Majo who protects her from the sun with a parasol. This work's format and bottom-to-top perspective indicates that it was intended to hang over a window. It's pyramidal composition, with the figures in the foreground, reflects the influence of classical Italian painting on Goya, as well as his mastery at painting light and shadows. The resultant tapestry was intended to hang in the dining room of the Prince and Princess of Asturias (the future Carlos IV and his wife Maria Luisa de Parma) at the Monastery of El Escorial. This work was part of a decorative series of ten cartoons for tapestries on “countryside” subjects. Goya, himself, invented the specific composition of the present one. This work entered the Prado Museum Collection in 1870 by way of Madrid's Royal Palace. 

Francisco Jose de Goya y Lucientes of Spain was a very famous painter and printmaker of the eighteenth century. His immense popularity is attributed to his European style of painting, fetching the appreciation of the European kings and queens. Goya's "The Parasol" or "the Quitasol," painted in 1777, is by far his most successful painting. Most of his paintings were centered on women, including this one. Goya created "The Parasol" when the Prince and the Princess of Asturias called him to Madrid to paint cartoons for their dining room tapestry in the Royal Palace of El Pardo in Madrid. A copy of "The Parasol" was woven into wool for hanging in the palace.

This oil on linen painting, measuring 104 cm x 152 cm, is known for its brilliant color scheme and brightness. "The Parasol" or "The Quitasol" depicts a pretty, young woman sitting on a hillock with a folded fan in her right hand. Dressed in the then French style, she is wearing a bright yellow skirt with a blue blouse lined with fur, and a dark brown shawl. A red scarf adorns her head. On her lap, rests a little black and white puppy. Next to her, stands a young man dressed in Majo or Maja style. He is wearing a brown coat with a light red waistcoat. He holds a bright green 'parasol' (umbrella) right above the woman's countenance. The left arm of the man is folded to rest on his waist. The folded fan, the 'parasol,' and the puppy suggest that the woman follows French fashion and belongs to a royal family, which creates an air of vanity about her. In the background, the leafy branches of a tall tree, bending opposite to the two human figures, depict windy weather. Towards the right side of the damsel is a high stonewall. Therefore, Goya has purposely placed all the bright colors, such as green, blue, red, and yellow in the center of the picture to create a cheerful effect, which was exactly compliant to the desires of the royal family. The flirtatious smile of the protagonist along with her direct gaze adds to the vivaciousness of the painting and gives a classic touch to it.

Francisco's pictures were always appreciated for their light and shadow effect. His creation of light on canvas was magnificent and this helped him capture a warm and cozy environment in his paintings. In "The Parasol" or "The Quitasol," too he has used lead white paint to create brightness and shadow lines. The elegance and the beauty of this painting, dipped in 'Classicism,' always had people flocking to admire it at the Prado Museum (Museo del Prado) in Madrid, where it is currently displayed.