The Straw Manikin – Goya

8 Jan

1791-92. The Straw Manikin (la Marioneta) by Francisco Goya The Straw Manikin (La Marioneta) by Francisco Goya, 1791-92

From 1775 to 1791 Goya painted, on commission for Charles III of Spain, sixty-three oil-on-canvas paintings which later served as bases for tapestries at the Royal Court in Madrid. At first glance, painting The Straw Manikin seems like a cheerful everyday life scene, which is just what the king wanted. Four young women are dressed in Spanish fashion, they are laughing, their eyes bright and cheeks rosy. Simple outdoor game took on a sinister mood, which shows the way Goya saw world. Take a look at the straw doll. It doesn’t seem very happy, does it? Its glaze look contrasts the cheeks which are bright pink in true Rococo manner. His hands hang limply, his legs lean in different directions. All in all, he is powerless in this cruel female game. If you take a look at the preliminary sketch below, you’ll notice the different position of the straw manikin; he appears to be enjoying his flight, while in this finished version he is being thrown into the air against his will. He doesn’t complain though, he’s passive and resigned. In this scene, Goya shows us what strong minded women can do to weak men.

1791-92. The Straw Manikin (la Marioneta) by Francisco Goya, detail

This painting is a typical example of Goya’s early works; charming and lively with soft colour scheme, but under the surface something wicked emerges. Bright colours can also be interpreted as a sign of Goya’s prosperity, as he was climbing the social ladder at the time. His later works are deprived of the cheerful element, and are much darker, showing all the evils that people are surrounded with.

1791. The Straw Manikin (la Marioneta) by Francisco Goya, preliminary sketchThe Straw Manikin (la Marioneta) by Francisco Goya, 1791, preliminary sketch

10 Responses to “The Straw Manikin – Goya”

  1. Gea Austen 8th Jan 2016 at 3:01 pm #

    How completely wonderful.. I have never seen this painting before,, Goya is such a strange Artist..! I remember seeing
    I think it was Chronus, the God eating one of his sons, and being traumatised as a small child,,
    then my ex mother in law said I looked like theThe Duchess of Alba [my wild hair] now this fantastical painting, which I will examine and read.. thankyou so much for the education.. I love it !! xx

    Liked by 1 person

    • Byron's Muse 8th Jan 2016 at 4:09 pm #

      Thanks… Duchess of Alba is truly an iconic portrait, that was a compliment indeed… You know that one time she visited Goya in his studio and asked him to apply makeup to her face, Goya later wrote to a friend that it was more pleasurable than painting on canvas…

      Liked by 1 person

      • Gea Austen 9th Jan 2016 at 3:45 pm #

        Its funny.. I never quite knew if it was a compliment or not, until I read about the painting,, my Mother in law was a beautiful Spanish aristocrat [ near to King Carlos] she taught Art and said she got into the Slade , during the war, the entrance exam consisted of .. drawing a circle !!! I love the idea of the Duchess wearing makeup and what you wrote.. I love makeup,, and I always wear white.,, but I didn’t know that Goya said that.. learning more 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

        • Byron's Muse 9th Jan 2016 at 7:14 pm #

          Interesting story, thanks for sharing! yeah, drawing a circle is harder than one thinks. I love people commenting and sharing their opinions and associations, though they rarely do, so thanks! Do you mind if I ask what zodiac sign you are, I’m always interested to know?


          • Gea Austen 9th Jan 2016 at 8:40 pm #

            love Star signs. I’m a sun sign Gemini, but have a lot of planets in Leo, and Cancer,, Leo rising. Moon in Cancer 🙂 oh and I’m a Cat 🙂 and you ? x

            Liked by 1 person

  2. Gea Austen 10th Jan 2016 at 9:20 am #

    How funny ! do you know your rising sign etc, ? 🙂

    Liked by 1 person


  1. Fragonard and Goya: The problem of leisure, what to do for pleasure? | Byron's muse - 9th Dec 2018

    […] Goya, painted a bit later though, called “The Straw Manikin”. I already wrote about it here. Times are getting darker and Rococo is in demise, and here an innocent outdoor game is taking a […]


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