The Third of May 1808 (Execution of the Defenders of Madrid)

Museo del Prado, Madrid, Spain

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Francisco Goya, 1814

history painting

This painting was commissioned by the provisional government of Spain, upon Goya’s suggestion, to commemorate the invasion of Spain by Napoleon’s troops in 1808. At the time it was painted, the painting was considered groundbreaking and revolutionary, as it presents the horrors of war that had heretofore not been openly illustrated. The painting focuses on one man, illuminated in white light in the middle of the painting, arms held out to the sides, facing a French firing squad. His slain companions litter the ground. It is thus considered one of the first pieces of modern art. This painting has influence a number of other artists, who have directly referenced the style and setting of the painting, including Edouard Manet and Pablo Picasso.

image of The Third of May 1808 (Execution of the Defenders of Madrid)