Goya worked as a portrait painter throughout his life, and can be considered a specialist within this genre, even though he also addressed many other approaches during his long and distinguished career. The composition found in front of us is the standard layout used by many artists during this period, with the model facing us but slightly turned to the side. The painting is cropped just above the waist and no other real detail is added to the piece other than the figure himself. His appearance is smart, suggesting immediately a notable gentleman of high standing. His jacket is darkly coloured, with several buttons on either side. His clothing below that appears from the neck area, with a white shirt revealed. His hair is respectable but without being over styled, with tinges of grey suggesting maturity and experience. His bushy sideburns and small line of beard below his bottom lip finish the look. His facial expression is of confidence and seriousness, perhaps reflecting the role that he served at the time.
Jacques Galos is known to have been the governor of a bank in Bordeaux, France at the time that this portrait was constructed. He would have wanted to sit for the prestige of being painted by such a famous name, someone who had already painted royalty on many occasions. It was a way of raising one's own profile, essentially. Interestingly, Galos was also handling the artist's finances at the time and so they would have been very comfortable in each other's company. Goya settled in Bordeaux in the last years of his life, running from the political problems found in his native Spain at the time.
This painting is one of the few from Goya's career to now reside in the United States, with it now being a part of the highly respected Barnes Foundation in Philadelphia. This venue was constructed in order to display a large private collection to the public for the first time, and it has now grown to become one of the highest profile art galleries and museums in the whole country. There are many unique characteristics to this gallery, not just in how the work was collected, but also in the way in which it is now displayed. It feels more like a domestic home setting, where items are placed on the world in a seemingly random nature. This provides plenty of excitement as you make your way around the different rooms. Those fortunate enough to visit will be able to enjoy original paintings from the likes of Cezanne and Modigliani, as well as a particularly impressive selection of Renoir paintings as well.