Exercise: Compare These Eight Nudes
Forget the subject matter — what is each of these paintings actually saying?
The Naked Maja, by Francisco Goya, 1797–1800. Photo: Buyenlarge/Getty Images
This feels very straightforward “hello, sailor!” in her come hither look and pose. The pillows seem fancy, but I can’t tell if the velvet chair is actually nice, or just a throw over a shabby chair.
What is a maja?
Maja: Majo (masc.) or maja (fem.), also manolo and manola, after the most popular names, were people from the lower classes of Spanish society, especially in Madrid, who distinguished themselves by their elaborate outfits and sense of style in dress and manners, as well as by their cheeky behavior.
WIkipedia: The painting carries many of the traditions of depictions of the nude in Spanish art, but marks a clear break in significant ways, especially in her bold gaze. Further, the accompanying pendant showing a woman in contemporary dress makes it clear that the focus of the work is not of a mythological subject, as in Velázquez's Rokeby Venus, but in fact of a nude Spanish woman. More obviously, while Velázquez painted his Venus revealing only her back, Goya's portrait is a full frontal view. Goya's figuration is short and angular, while Velázquez's is elongated and curved, and his figure placed on richly coloured satin, which starkly contrasts to the bare white cloths Goya's maja rests on.
sort of hilarious there’s the same painting with clothes on: