The Third of May 1808 (The Executions)

Francisco Goya

Contemporary-Art.org
Keywords: May1808Executions

Work Overview

The Third of May 1808 (in Madrid; The Executions)
Artist Francisco Goya
Year 1814
Medium Oil on canvas
Dimensions 268 cm × 347 cm (106 in × 137 in)
Style   Romanticism
Genre   history painting
Location Museo del Prado, Madrid


The Third of May 1808 (also known as El tres de mayo de 1808 en Madrid or Los fusilamientos de la montaña del Príncipe Pío,[3] or Los fusilamientos del tres de mayo[1]) is a painting completed in 1814 by the Spanish painter Francisco Goya, now in the Museo del Prado, Madrid. In the work, Goya sought to commemorate Spanish resistance to Napoleon's armies during the occupation of 1808 in the Peninsular War. Along with its companion piece of the same size, The Second of May 1808 (or The Charge of the Mamelukes), it was commissioned by the provisional government of Spain at Goya's suggestion.


The painting's content, presentation, and emotional force secure its status as a groundbreaking, archetypal image of the horrors of war. Although it draws on many sources from both high and popular art, The Third of May 1808 marks a clear break from convention. Diverging from the traditions of Christian art and traditional depictions of war, it has no distinct precedent, and is acknowledged as one of the first paintings of the modern era.[4] According to the art historian Kenneth Clark, The Third of May 1808 is "the first great picture which can be called revolutionary in every sense of the word, in style, in subject, and in intention".[5]


The Third of May 1808 has inspired a number of other major paintings, including a series by Édouard Manet, and Pablo Picasso's Massacre in Korea and Guernica.


Napoleon I of France declared himself First Consul of the French Republic on November 10, 1799, and crowned himself Emperor in 1804. Because Spain controlled access to the Mediterranean, the country was politically and strategically important to French interests. The reigning Spanish sovereign, Charles IV, was internationally regarded as ineffectual. Even in his own court he was seen as a "half-wit king who renounces cares of state for the satisfaction of hunting",[6] and a cuckold unable to control his energetic wife, Maria Luisa of Parma. Napoleon took advantage of the weak king by suggesting the two nations conquer and divide Portugal, with France and Spain each taking a third of the spoils, and the final third going to the Spanish Prime Minister Manuel de Godoy, along with the title Prince of the Algarve. Godoy was seduced, and accepted the French offer. He failed, however, to grasp Napoleon's true intentions, and was unaware that his new ally and co-sovereign, the former king's son Ferdinand VII of Spain, was using the invasion merely as a ploy to seize the Spanish parliament and throne. Ferdinand intended not only that Godoy be killed during the impending power struggle, but also that the lives of his own parents be sacrificed.


Under the guise of reinforcing the Spanish armies, 23,000 French troops entered Spain unopposed in November 1807.[7] Even when Napoleon's intentions became clear the following February, the occupying forces found little resistance apart from isolated actions in disconnected areas, including Saragossa.[8] Napoleon's principal commander, Marshal Joachim Murat, believed that Spain would benefit from rulers more progressive and competent than the Bourbons, and Napoleon's brother Joseph Bonaparte was to be made king.[9] After Napoleon convinced Ferdinand to return Spanish rule to Charles IV, the latter was left with no choice but to abdicate, on March 19, 1808, in favor of Joseph Bonaparte.




Although the Spanish people had accepted foreign monarchs in the past, they deeply resented the new French ruler. On May 2, 1808, provoked by news of the planned removal to France of the last members of the Spanish royal family, the people of Madrid rebelled in the Dos de Mayo Uprising. A proclamation issued that day to his troops by Marshal Murat read: "The population of Madrid, led astray, has given itself to revolt and murder. French blood has flowed. It demands vengeance. All those arrested in the uprising, arms in hand, will be shot."[10] Goya commemorated the uprising in his The Second of May, which depicts a cavalry charge against the rebels in the Puerta del Sol square in the center of Madrid, the site of several hours of fierce combat.[11] Much the better known of the pair, The Third of May illustrates the French reprisals: before dawn the next day hundreds of Spaniards were rounded up and shot, at a number of locations around Madrid. Civilian Spanish opposition persisted as a feature of the ensuing five-year Peninsular War, the first to be called guerrilla war.[9] Irregular Spanish forces considerably aided the Spanish, Portuguese, and British armies jointly led by Sir Arthur Wellesley, who first landed in Portugal in August 1808. By the time of the painting's conception, the public imagination had made the rioters symbols of heroism and patriotism.


Like other Spanish liberals, Goya was personally placed in a difficult position by the French invasion. He had supported the initial aims of the French Revolution, and hoped for a similar development in Spain. Several of his friends, like the poets Juan Meléndez Valdés and Leandro Fernández de Moratín, were overt Afrancesados, the term for the supporters—collaborators in the view of many—of Joseph Bonaparte.[13] Goya's 1798 portrait of the French ambassador-turned-commandant Ferdinand Guillemardet betrays a personal admiration.[14][15] Although he maintained his position as court painter, for which an oath of loyalty to Joseph was necessary, Goya had by nature an instinctive dislike of authority.[16] He witnessed the subjugation of his countrymen by the French troops.[17] During these years he painted little, although the experiences of the occupation provided inspiration for drawings that would form the basis for his prints The Disasters of War (Los desastres de la guerra).[14]


In February 1814, after the final expulsion of the French, Goya approached the provisional government with a request to "perpetuate by means of his brush the most notable and heroic actions of our glorious insurrection against the Tyrant of Europe".[18] His proposal accepted, Goya began work on The Third of May. It is not known whether he had personally witnessed either the rebellion or the reprisals,[11] despite many later attempts to place him at the events of either day.


The Third of May 1808 is set in the early hours of the morning following the uprising[20] and centers on two masses of men: one a rigidly poised firing squad, the other a disorganized group of captives held at gun point. Executioners and victims face each other abruptly across a narrow space; according to Kenneth Clark, "by a stroke of genius [Goya] has contrasted the fierce repetition of the soldiers' attitudes and the steely line of their rifles, with the crumbling irregularity of their target."[21] A square lantern situated on the ground between the two groups throws a dramatic light on the scene. The brightest illumination falls on the huddled victims to the left, whose numbers include a monk or friar in prayer.[22] To the immediate right and at the center of the canvas, other condemned figures stand next in line to be shot.[23] The central figure is the brilliantly lit man kneeling amid the bloodied corpses of those already executed, his arms flung wide in either appeal or defiance. His yellow and white clothing repeats the colors of the lantern. His plain white shirt and sun-burnt face show he is a simple laborer.[24]


On the right side stands the firing squad, engulfed in shadow and painted as a monolithic unit. Seen nearly from behind, their bayonets and their shako headgear form a relentless and immutable column. Most of the faces of the figures cannot be seen, but the face of the man to the right of the main victim, peeping fearfully towards the soldiers, acts as a repoussoir at the back of the central group. Without distracting from the intensity of the foreground drama, a townscape with a steeple looms in the nocturnal distance,[25] probably including the barracks used by the French.[26] In the background between the hillside and the shakos is a crowd with torches: perhaps onlookers, perhaps more soldiers or victims.


The Second and Third of May 1808 are thought to have been intended as parts of a larger series.[27] Written commentary and circumstantial evidence suggest that Goya painted four large canvases memorializing the rebellion of May 1808. In his memoirs of the Royal Academy in 1867, José Caveda wrote of four paintings by Goya of the second of May, and Cristóbal Ferriz—an artist and a collector of Goya—mentioned two other paintings on the theme: a revolt at the royal palace and a defense of artillery barracks.[27] Contemporary prints stand as precedents for such a series. The disappearance of two paintings may indicate official displeasure with the depiction of popular insurrection.


Goya's series of aquatint etchings The Disasters of War (Los desastres de la guerra) was not completed until 1820, although most of the prints were made in the period 1810–1814. The album of proofs given by Goya to a friend, however, now in the British Museum, provides many indications of the order in which both the preliminary drawings and the prints themselves were composed.[29] The groups identified as the earliest clearly seem to predate the commission for the two paintings, and include two prints with obviously related compositions (illustrated), as well as I saw this, which is presumably a scene witnessed during Goya's trip to Saragossa.[30] No se puede mirar (One cannot look at this) is clearly related compositionally and thematically;[31] the female central figure has her arms outstretched, but pointing down, while another figure has his hands clasped in prayer, and several others shield or hide their faces. This time the soldiers are not visible even from behind; only the bayonets of their guns are seen.


Y no hay remedio (And it cannot be helped) is another of the early prints, from a slightly later group apparently produced at the height of the war when materials were unobtainable, so that Goya had to destroy the plate of an earlier landscape print to make this and another piece in the Disasters series. It shows a shako-wearing firing squad in the background, this time seen receding in a frontal rather than a rear view.


At first the painting met with mixed reactions from art critics and historians. Artists had previously tended to depict war in the high style of history painting, and Goya's unheroic description was unusual for the time. According to some early critical opinion the painting was flawed technically: the perspective is flat, or the victims and executioners are standing too close together to be realistic. Although these observations may be strictly correct, the writer Richard Schickel argues that Goya was not striving for academic propriety but rather to strengthen the overall impact of the piece.[33]


The Third of May references a number of earlier works of art, but its power comes from its bluntness rather than its adherence to traditional compositional formulas.[25] Pictorial artifice gives way to the epic portrayal of unvarnished brutality. Even the contemporary Romantic painters—who were also intrigued with subjects of injustice, war, and death—composed their paintings with greater attention to the conventions of beauty, as is evident in Théodore Géricault's Raft of the Medusa (1818–1819) and Eugène Delacroix's 1830 painting Liberty Leading the People.


The painting is structurally and thematically tied to traditions of martyrdom in Christian art, as exemplified in the dramatic use of chiaroscuro, and the appeal to life juxtaposed with the inevitability of imminent execution.[34] However, Goya's painting departs from this tradition. Works that depicted violence, such as those by Jusepe de Ribera, feature an artful technique and harmonious composition which anticipate the "crown of martyrdom" for the victim.[35]


In The Third of May the man with raised arms at the focal point of the composition has often been compared to a crucified Christ,[36] and a similar pose is sometimes seen in depictions of Christ's nocturnal Agony in the Garden of Gethsemane.[37] Goya's figure displays stigmata-like marks on his right hand,[34] while the lantern at the center of the canvas references a traditional attribute of the Roman soldiers who arrested Christ in the garden.[38] Not only is he posed as if in crucifixion, he wears yellow and white: the heraldic colors of the papacy.


The lantern as a source of illumination in art was widely used by Baroque artists, and perfected by Caravaggio.[40] Traditionally a dramatic light source and the resultant chiaroscuro were used as metaphors for the presence of God. Illumination by torch or candlelight took on religious connotations; but in The Third of May the lantern manifests no such miracle. Rather, it affords light only so that the firing squad may complete its grim work, and provides a stark illumination so that the viewer may bear witness to wanton violence. The traditional role of light in art as a conduit for the spiritual has been subverted.[40]


The victim, as presented by Goya, is as anonymous as his killers. His entreaty is addressed not to God in the manner of traditional painting, but to an unheeding and impersonal firing squad.[34] He is not granted the heroism of individuality, but is merely part of a continuum of victims. Beneath him lies a bloody and disfigured corpse; behind and around him are others who will soon share the same fate. Here, for the first time, according to biographer Fred Licht, nobility in individual martyrdom is replaced by futility and irrelevance, the victimization of mass murder, and anonymity as a hallmark of the modern condition.[39]


The way the painting shows the progress of time is also without precedent in Western art.[39] The death of a blameless victim had typically been presented as a conclusive episode, imbued with the virtue of heroism. The Third of May offers no such cathartic message. Instead, there is a continuous procession of the condemned in a mechanical formalization of murder. The inevitable outcome is seen in the corpse of a man, splayed on the ground in the lower left portion of the work. There is no room left for the sublime; his head and body have been disfigured to a degree that renders resurrection impossible.[32] The victim is portrayed bereft of all aesthetic or spiritual grace. For the rest of the picture the viewer's eye level is mostly along the central horizontal axis; only here is the perspectival point of view changed, so that the viewer looks down on the mutilated body.[39]


Finally, there is no attempt by the artist to soften the subject's brutality through technical skill. Method and subject are indivisible. Goya's procedure is determined less by the mandates of traditional virtuosity than by his intrinsically morbid theme.[41] The brushwork could not be described as pleasing, and the colors are restricted to earth tones and black, punctuated by bright flashes of white and the red blood of the victims. The quality of the pigment itself foreshadows Goya's later works: a granular solution producing a matte, sandy finish.[42] Few would admire the work for painterly flourishes, such is its horrific force and its lack of theatricality.


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In 1807, Napoleon, bent on conquering the world, brought Spain’s king, Charles IV, into alliance with him in order to conquer Portugal. Napoleon’s troops poured into Spain, supposedly just passing through. But Napoleon’s real intentions soon became clear: the alliance was a trick. The French were taking over. Joseph Bonaparte, Napoleon’s brother, was the new king of Spain.


On May 2, 1808, hundreds of Spaniards rebelled. On May 3, these Spanish freedom fighters were rounded up and massacred by the French. Their blood literally ran through the streets of Madrid. Even though Goya had shown French sympathies in the past, the slaughter of his countrymen and the horrors of war made a profound impression on the artist. He commemorated both days of this gruesome uprising in paintings. Although Goya’s Second of May (above) is a tour de force of twisting bodies and charging horses reminiscent of Leonardo’s Battle of Anghiari, his The Third of May, 1808 in Madrid is acclaimed as one of the great paintings of all time, and has even been called the world’s first modern painting.


Death awaits
We see row of French soldiers aiming their guns at a Spanish man, who stretches out his arms in submission both to the men and to his fate. A country hill behind him takes the place of an executioner’s wall. A pile of dead bodies lies at his feet, streaming blood. To his other side, a line of Spanish rebels stretches endlessly into the landscape. They cover their eyes to avoid watching the death that they know awaits them. The city and civilization is far behind them. Even a monk, bowed in prayer, will soon be among the dead.


Transforming Christian iconography
Goya’s painting has been lauded for its brilliant transformation of Christian iconography and its poignant portrayal of man’s inhumanity to man. The central figure of the painting, who is clearly a poor laborer, takes the place of the crucified Christ; he is sacrificing himself for the good of his nation. The lantern that sits between him and the firing squad is the only source of light in the painting, and dazzlingly illuminates his body, bathing him in what can be perceived as spiritual light. His expressive face, which shows an emotion of anguish that is more sad than terrified, echoes Christ’s prayer on the cross, “Forgive them Father, they know not what they do.” Close inspection of the victim’s right hand also shows stigmata, referencing the marks made on Christ’s body during the Crucifixion.


The man’s pose not only equates him with Christ, but also acts as an assertion of his humanity. The French soldiers, by contrast, become mechanical or insect-like. They merge into one faceless, many-legged creature incapable of feeling human emotion. Nothing is going to stop them from murdering this man. The deep recession into space seems to imply that this type of brutality will never end.
Not heroism in battle
This depiction of warfare was a drastic departure from convention. In 18th century art, battle and death was represented as a bloodless affair with little emotional impact. Even the great French Romanticists were more concerned with producing a beautiful canvas in the tradition of history paintings, showing the hero in the heroic act, than with creating emotional impact. Goya’s painting, by contrast, presents us with an anti-hero, imbued with true pathos that had not been seen since, perhaps, the ancient Roman sculpture of The Dying Gaul. Goya’s central figure is not perishing heroically in battle, but rather being killed on the side of the road like an animal. Both the landscape and the dress of the men are nondescript, making the painting timeless. This is certainly why the work remains emotionally charged today.
Legacy
Future artists also admired The Third of May, 1808 in Madrid, and both Manet and Picasso used it for inspiration in their own portrayals of political murders (Manet’s Execution of Emperor Maximilian and Picasso’s Massacre in Korea). Along with Picasso’s Guernica, Goya’s Third of May remains one of the most chilling images ever created of the atrocities of war, and it is difficult to imagine how much more powerful it must have been in the pre-photographic era, before people were bombarded with images of warfare in the media. A powerful anti-war statement, Goya is not only criticizing the nations that wage war on one another, but is also admonishing us, the viewers, for being complicit in acts of violence, which occur not between abstract entities like “countries,” but between human beings standing a few feet away from one another.


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The Man in the White Shirt is a Christ figure. His stance is similar to Christ on the Cross. The man is a martyr for the rest of the town, which is why his white cloths are not soiled. He is wearing a clean, white shirt, which is a signifigant difference compared to the other Spaniards. The towns people are wearing dirty, blood stained cloths of dark colors.


He gives Napoleon's troops a pleeding look, knowing that he is about to be shot. Each of the townspeople have distinct facial expressions telling their stories.


The Man has his arms spread in a "V" which repersents peace, something Napoleon's troops clearly have no regard for.


The people who have already been shoot have casually been tossed aside to make room for the next victims. The monk preys over their dead bodies, perhaps in an effort to give them some peace. The man with his arms spread in a "V" looks pained, even in death. He, too, is asking for peace from the troops.


Napoleon's troops' faces cannot be seen from the paintings viewer. However, the townspeople have a clear view of their faces and find themselves staring down the barrel of their guns. The troops are bathed both in darknes and light, which reveals their clothing to also be clean and unsoiled with the victims' blood.


The unsoiled clothing shows how the troops were above dirty clothing, placing them at a heigher level than the victims.


To the troops, the victims seem anonymous and worthless, while we can see otherwise. The darkness of the painting shows impending doom, which is brought by the troops.


Any regard for live is quickly cut down by the troops firing squad.


A depiction of the execution of patriots from Madrid by a firing squad from Napoleon´s army in reprisal for their uprising against the French occupation on the second of May, 1808. The French soldiers are at the right of the composition, with their backs to the viewer. They aim their rifles at the Madrilenes who are to die. The scene´s drama and tension are emphasized by the use of light, which strongly illuminates the heroes, making it possible to distinguish their characters and attitudes in a detailed psychological character study. Along with its companion, The 2nd of May 1808 in Madrid: the charge of the Mamelukes (P748), this work was made at the initiative of the Reagent, Luis de Boubon in 1814. Both works may have been used to decorate a triumphal arch during the return of Fernando VII to Madrid, or to commemorate the celebrations of the second of May. The lower left side still shows the marks of damage suffered when this canvas was transferred to Valencia in 1937 during the Spanish Civil War.


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Goya had explored themes of irrationality, folly, and corruption in earlier works including the satiric Los Caprichos, but images he created during and after the war with France were much darker, both emotionally and visually, than anything he had done previously.
In the gruesome Disasters of War series begun in the 1808, but published decades later, Goya created images that were unambiguously anti-war. Rather than taking sides in these prints, Goya focused on how war brings out the basest human instincts. In two monumental paintings from 1814, Goya presented a more politically charged perspective. Created for a public audience, the two paintings—The Second of May, 1808 and The Third of May, 1808—commemorate events from the beginning of the war. The first image represents a bloody encounter that took place between the French army and the people of Madrid who rose up against them. The second depicts the execution of the rebels by the French on the following day.
With The Third of May, 1808, Goya has made an image of actual historical events, but enhanced them for maximum dramatic effect. The condemned men stand before a firing squad on the hill Príncipe Pío, one of several locations where such executions took place. The recognizable architecture of the city in the background lends immediacy to the scene. But it is the figures to the left of the composition that demand the viewer’s attention. The main figure, dressed in white, practically glows. Holding out his arms in an unmistakable reference to the crucified Christ, he appears as a heroic martyr. While the faceless French soldiers on the opposite side are rendered almost inhuman, the ill-fated Spanish rebels elicit both sympathy for their suffering and respect for their sacrifice.


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By early 1808, Napoleon had succeeded in bringing Europe to its knees. After he had crowned himself Emperor in 1804, his foolish desire to take over the world led him to strike a deal with Spain in which Portugal would be conquered, and divided evenly between the French and the Spanish. A master of manipulation, Napoleon seized upon the greedy agreement of the Spanish Prime Minister Manuel de Godoy and sent twenty-three thousand French troops into Spain in November 1807, supposedly in order to reinforce the Spanish army. Soon after the occupation, conveniently facing a lack of opposition throughout Spain, Napoleon was able to further insert his influence into Spanish rule by way of his brother, Joseph Bonaparte, who was to be made king after Charles IV was forced to give up the throne. This the proud Spaniards simply could not stomach. On May 2nd, 1808, the people of Madrid rebelled against the foreign monarch and the French occupation of Spain in a bloody uprising depicted by Goya in his The Second of May, 1808.


On May third, 1808, the French took action in the form of reprisal. Mass executions of Spanish civilians ensued, with hundreds being rounded up and summarily shot by French troops. Goya silently but pensively observed the horrors of this day, and in 1814 requested of the Spanish government that he be allowed to commemorate the events of this day “by means of his brush”, in order to immortalize those who had rebelled against the French. Goya’s painting focuses on two groups of men: the firing squad, and Spanish captives – some dead, others in despair. Perhaps the most striking feature of the painting is the man kneeling amidst the corpses, preparing to be shot, arms outstretched in a position resembling Christ’s crucifixion. Indeed, when looked at closely, it can be seen that Goya has painted a stigma in the right hand of the kneeling man, further exemplifying the man’s Christ-like martyrdom.


The victim is entirely anonymous. He is but another Spanish civilian among the larger group who will be executed in cold blood by the detached, almost mechanical, firing squad. In this painting, Goya is seeking to portray the brutality and horror of mass murder, in which the victims are not perceived as individual heroes or martyrs, but rather are representative of futility and the irrelevance of a powerless majority in the hands of an all-powerful minority. Goya’s painting served as inspiration for Picasso’s Guernica and Massacre in Korea, as well as Manet’s Execution of the Emperor Maximilian. Today, the painting can be found in the Museo Del Prado in Madrid.


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The Executions of the third of May, 1808 is a painting created by the Spanish artist Francisco Goya.  The painting  8 feet 9" by 13 feet 4".  The painting depicts an execution of masses of Spanish countrymen by French soldiers.  There are 8 plus soldiers, with their faces turned away from the viewer, firing at a group of Spanish countrymen at very close range.  There is a central figure Spanish man in his early 30's with his arms outstretched.  He is wearing a white shirt and yellow ochre pants.  He is on his knees.  If you look very closely you can see piercing in the palms of his hands.  The central figure is surrounded by about 7 men.  They are in various states of emotions.  Some of the men cover their eyes, others are in prayer, while at least one covers his ears.  There is a monk in prayer along side this group that frames the central character.  In the foreground in front of this group of men being executed is a pile of dead bodies.  There are at least 3 men dead in a pool of blood that covers them and flows into the center of the composition, in front of the central figure.  There is a lantern that illuminates the execution.  The action takes place outside the city.  There is a church or cathedral in the distance.  The men being executed are placed in front of a large boulder.  The execution takes place outside the city.


As you can see in the description, there is no commentary about what the painting might mean, or your reaction to it.  It is a record, a description of the event.  You want to write in such a way that someone who has never seen the painting can get a mind's eye view of what the painting is about.


Formal Analyze 
Explore the elements of composition namely, line, texture, space,color, and shape.


The mood of the painting is very bleak and somber.  The colors which the artist has chosen are earth tones, and there is a strong overall contrast of dark and light.  This dramatic lighting technique or chiaroscuro can be seen in the central figure or focal point-the young Spanish man with his arm's outstretched.  The implied lines of the gun lead the viewers eye to the focal point.  His outstretched arms form a "V" line. This line is reiterated in the collar and pants of the man.  There is also an angular or "V" line formed by the lantern that illuminates the scene.  There is a line in the sand that differentiates the "good, or noble" Spanish countrymen from the harsher, harder forms of the French soldiers in the shadows.  The shapes of the French soldiers are highly contoured.  They turn way from the viewer.  We do not know what they look like.  The viewer can not relate to them.  In contrast we see the faces of the Spanish countrymen, we see their fear, pain, defiance, and belief.  Texturally the Spanish countrymen are softer.  The artist has created looser brushstrokes and a duller surface.  This in contrast to the shiner surface of the soldier.  Spacially, the viewer is outside looking in.  The light and dark contrast of the line in the sand separates the two groups spatially.  There is also a feeling of entrapment created by the line of the mountain that holds the Spanish countrymen into the space.


Interpretation 
What is the overall meaning of the work of art?  This is subjective, everyone may have a different response.  There are no wrong answers to what the painting says to you-the viewer.


As I look at this painting, without even knowing the history behind it, I feel empathy with the Spanish countrymen.  The central figure appears to be a Christ-like figure.  Spain and France are for the most part Catholic, and there would be no greater hero than Christ.  He appears on the scene-bigger than life.  If he stood up He would tower over the scene.  A soft light reflects behind him, creating a feeling of spirituality.  It is though He is asking the soldiers, "Why are you doing this to Me?"  He stands with the Spanish people and symbolizes their courage, faith, and lack of understanding of war atrocities and aggression.  The element of time is very interesting in this painting.  Goya presents the present-the figure presently being shot, the past-the dead men in the pool of blood-and the future-the long line of men who will be shot.  The painting is timeless.  It pays tribute to people who are willing to stand up for their beliefs, in spite of, aggressors who would try to destroy them.  It also shows the price that the price of war for the victims as well as the aggressors.  Goya shows us that the aggressors have become robotic like and inhuman in their treatment of the people they would try to conquer.