Famous Artwork: The Third of May 1808

A sculpture dedicated to Francisco de Goya in Madrid, Spain.
A sculpture dedicated to Francisco de Goya in Madrid, Spain.

Created by a Spanish painter Francisco Goya, The Third of May 1808 is a painting which can be currently found at the Museo Nacional del Prado in Madrid, Spain. The painting features a Spanish man along with his companions on his knees stretching out his arm in submission to French soldiers who are pointing their guns at them. On one side lays a pile of dead bodies with their blood streaming at the feet of the man and his companions. On the other side, a bunch of other Spanish rebels stand in a line. The rebels cover their eyes as if they are avoiding to see what awaits them knowing they will ultimately die.

Painting History

Napoleon Bonaparte who was hell bent on conquering the world, made King Charles IV of Spain his alliance, and together they conquered Portugal. However, Spain would soon realize that the alliance Napoleon made was a trick because he also intended to conquer the country. Napoleon's brother Joseph Bonaparte was made the new king of Spain. A large number of Spaniards rebelled against the French invasion on May 2, 1808. However, on May 3 the French army rounded and massacred the Spanish freedom fighters. The blood of these martyrs filled the streets of Madrid that day. The horrors Spain went through, and the slaughter of the Spaniards made a profound impression on Goya's art.

Background of Francisco Goya

Goya was a printmaker and romantic painter who was considered Spain's most prolific artist during the late 18th and early 19th centuries. Francisco Goya who had a modest upbringing was extremely successful as an artist and has often been referred to as the first of the modern artists and the last of the Old Masters. Under the guidance of Jose Luzan y Martinez, Goya began studying painting at a tender age of 14 years. However, he later moved to Madrid to study under the guidance of Anton Raphael Mengs. Goya had his share of misery as his wife had several miscarriages; he became deaf after suffering from a severe and undiagnosed disease. Following his disability, Goya's work became more pessimistic and darker. Grief stricken by the events that took place during the Peninsular War, Goya created both The Second of May 1808 and The Third of May 1808 in 1814 to commemorate the Spanish martyrs who died for the love of their country.


The Third of May 1808 has become one of the world's most admired paintings of war. The painting's reputation has been established as a groundbreaking masterpiece due to its influence on fine art, emotional chiaroscuro, and most importantly its blend of Christian iconography. The piece also inspired other acclaimed artists and their paintings such as the Massacre in Korea and Guernica by Pablo Picasso and Execution of Emperor Maximilian by Edouard Manet.

Painting Location

Currently, the painting of The Third of May 1808 can be found at the Prado Museum in Spain. The piece has a posting on Google Earth with a 14,000-megapixel resolution. Before finding its new home, the painting is believed to have been in royal hands for almost 30 years between 1819 and 1845 according to some historians. However, the first official record of The Third of May 1808 in the published catalog of Prado Museum is dated 1872. The masterpiece is worth an unknown amount of fortune, but it is not for sale since it belongs to the Prado Museum.


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