Goya: Self Portrait with Dr. Arrieta

Goya, 1820, oil on canvas, approx. 45 x 30 in.

We made it to the Goya show at the Boston MFA just before it closed a few weeks ago. I found this self portrait quite touching. The artist depicts himself in a state of vulnerability and need. But isn't that the state we are all in just a bit, even when healthy? It's certainly part of the human condition, if far from the whole of it. The inscription reads: “Goya, in gratitude to his friend Arrieta: for the compassion and care with which he saved his life during the acute and dangerous illness he suffered towards the end of the year 1819 in his seventy-third year." It was Goya's need that made the doctor's beautiful compassion possible.

But who are the figures in the back? Watchers waiting from the other side?


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