The portrait itself is of Mariano Goya, the artist's grandson. It was recently put up for auction (2013) from the estate of George Embiricos and received an estimate of $6-8m from experts at Sotheby's. This is entirely in line with the valuations of lesser known paintings from this artist's career, though the connection to his own family will have added some interest to the piece. The painting is from 1827 and was produced by Goya in Madrid, though he was living in Bordeaux at the time. He loved his grandson dearly and fitted in this portrait during a short visit back to the Spanish capital. He is known to have set aside substantial funds from his pension specifically for Mariano and he even gave him ownership of his old house, complete with his Black Paintings adorning the walls, back in 1823. Mariano would have been twenty one years old at the time of this portrait and just starting to make his way in the world.
We can immediately see the similarity between the artist and his young relative in this portrait. Mariano sports thick curly hair, with a straight nose and pursed lips. His complexion is typical of a young man, with rosy cheeks and an almost ageless appearance. He is smartly dressed, with a simple grey tie and creme coloured garment, with a dark coat over the top. Behind is a grey background that is deliberately devoid of detail. The most memorable element of his appearance would probably be the wavy hair with thick eyebrows. Goya the elder, at 81, was struggling with his health during this time and it would have been a considerable challenge for him to get to Madrid to Bordeaux in order to attend to several different matters that required his own personal attention. He actually made the journey with his friend, Don Juan Bautista de Muguiro, who would himself appear in an alternative Goya portrait.
The artist would produce a number of similar portraits within the years of 1826 and 1827, all of which we have featured within this site. They are all fairly expressive, with the artist working in a natural manner and also seeking to communicate the model's character into the portrait itself. Even in these late years he was continuing to impress and find new ways of working that could inspire future artists within Europe. Records have shown that unfortunately his grandson would squander the opportunities given to him by his helpful grandfather, and also sell off this particular portrait which had been gifted to him in good faith and with love from his famous relative who went to great lengths to help him all he could up until his death just a few years later.