GOYA Y LUCIENTES, Francisco de
(b. 1746, Fuendetodos, d. 1828, Bordeaux)

Don Manuel Osorio Manrique de Zuñiga

Oil on canvas, 127 x 101 cm
Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

Like Velázquez, Goya was also in demand as a painter of children. After he was appointed Painter to the King of Spain, Charles III, the conde de Altamira commissioned him to paint portraits of his family, including his youngest son, Don Manuel, born in 1784. The fashionably dressed child holds a pet magpie on a string. In the background three cats stare menacingly at the bird, traditionally a symbol of the soul, which gives the painting a sinister and unsettling character. Goya apparently intended this portrait as an illustration of the frail boundaries that separate a child's world from the ever-present forces of evil.