Date of Award


Degree Name

Master of Philosophy (School of Arts and Sciences)

First Supervisor

Professor Deborah Gare

Second Supervisor

Doctor Karen McClusky


The work of Francisco de Goya (1746-1828) is impressive both in its skill, and in its scope; but perhaps most strikingly in its diversity. This diversity has cultivated a crisis-narrative of Goya’s life; his famed artistic darkness only appeared following significant ‘crisis moments’ in his life. This research contends with this narrative by analysing a collection of Goya’s earlier, lesser-known artworks, the Tapestry Cartoons. The cartoons provide a powerful comparison to the collections of his later years, such as the Black Paintings (1819–23) and the Disasters of War (1810–20). Framing this analysis is the influence of Dark Romanticism, which was an aesthetic trend favoured in the early-nineteenth century. Elements of Dark Romanticism are evident throughout Goya’s career—even in his earliest and brightest works. The bucolic scenes of the cartoons, for example, hinted at peril: a bountiful harvest implied that winter was coming; children’s tree-top play threatened injury; a mannequin thrown at a spring-time festival was sinister. This early darkness casts doubt over the crisis-narrative, and forms the crux of this research. This research interrogates the tapestry cartoons to understand them both as early expressions of Dark Romanticism, and as antecedent artworks that possess clear hallmarks of Goya’s mature artistic style and approach. By conducting this close study, this research informs our understanding of Goya as a Dark Romantic artist, and thereby better understand Dark Romanticism itself as an aesthetic style and ideological movement.