Document Type


Date of Degree

Spring 2013

Degree Name

PhD (Doctor of Philosophy)

Degree In

Art History

First Advisor

Johnson, Dorothy

First Committee Member

Tomasini, Wallace

Second Committee Member

Rorex, Robert

Third Committee Member

Scott, John B

Fourth Committee Member

Lewis, Tom


Throughout his career, Francisco de Goya drew, etched, and painted several recurrent themes. One which began early in his career and was revisited by the artist even in the last years of his life while in exile in Bordeaux was anticlericalism. Goya lived during turbulent times in Spanish history, with the role of the Catholic Church changing as governments and kings also changed. His art reflects the many abuses of power the Church and its clerics perpetrated on the Spanish people during this period. Throughout his oeuvre, Goya critiques the clergy and the Catholic Church for misconduct such as sexual abuse, greed, acts of violence, and hypocrisy. If we consider the decades in Spanish history in which Goya lived we note that the clergy and the church were reformed under the enlightened monarchs of the Bourbon dynasty and were almost completely disbanded under French control during the War of Independence against Napoleon. We subsequently see a complete reversal with a reinvigoration of the Church and the Inquisition under the restoration of Fernando VII. It makes sense that Goya, an artist who used his art to provide us with a social critique of Spanish life, would have turned to the many wrong doings of the Church since it was one of the most important and powerful institutions in Spain during his lifetime. Goya's critiques of the Church were harsh, humorous, and many times intentionally ambiguous. My dissertation examines a still much neglected facet of Goya's art, namely his depictions of anticlericalism throughout his career. I address how the cultural, religious, social, political, and literary history of Spain help to explain why the artist denigrated members of the Catholic Church in his art. A great deal has been written on some of Goya's well-known religious paintings, yet his fierce anticlericalism that informs so much of his art has been largely overlooked.

The first chapter introduces anticlericalism and examines the historiography of Goya's works. It also explains my methodological approach and how my dissertation seeks to expand upon the scholarship that discusses Goya's complex relationship with religion. My second chapter addresses the role of religious commissions in Goya's early career from his training to his beginnings in the royal court of Madrid. I emphasize how even in his early career, Goya's religious paintings had begun to satirize the Catholic clergy as well as depart from traditional religious iconography. Subsequent chapters focus on works he created while he was becoming the most famous and sought after artist in Spain. Specifically in chapters three and four I examine anticlericalism in his print series Los Caprichos and Disasters of War as well as in his paintings and drawings completed while living in Spain.

My final two chapters examine Goya's anticlericalism in the last years of his life, first under the restored monarchy of Fernando VII and then during his self-imposed exile in Bordeaux. The late works reveal the extent to which Goya continued to meditate on and represent the abuses of the Catholic clergy in Spain, a topic that would be on his mind until his final days.


xvi, 307 pages


Includes bibliographical references (pages 301-307).


Copyright 2013 Karissa Elizabeth Bushman