In 1814 Francisco Goya, who was almost 70 years old, was commanded to paint the portrait of the restored king of Spain, Ferdinand VII. Ferdinand’s father, Charles IV, had appointed him first court painter to the king 15 years earlier.
Since then there had been a furious battle in Spanish society over the direction of the state. Goya was in a perfect position to record these tumultuous shifts.
There were few secure career paths open to a painter at that time. Goya had been an ambitious provincial artist and he moved to the capital, Madrid, at the first opportunity.