Published Feb 2010
In 1792, when he was forty-seven, the Spanish painter Francisco de Goya contracted a serious illness which left him stone deaf. In this extraordinary book Julia Blackburn follows Goya through the remaining thirty-five years of his life. It was a time of political turmoil, of war, violence and confusion, and Goya transformed what he saw happening in the world around him into his visionary paintings, drawings and etchings. These were also years of tenderness for Goya, of intimate relationships with the Duchess of Alba and with Leocadia, his mistress, who was with him to the end. Julia Blackburn writes of the elderly painter with the intimacy of an old friend, seeing through his eyes and sharing the silence in his head, capturing perfectly his ferocious energy, his passion and his genius.
So vivid are her conjurings of lives lived elsewhere or long ago, you begin to suspect she sees ghosts.
Marina Benjamin, Evening Standard