In 1793 Goya suffered a terrible illness, now thought to have been either labyrinthitis or lead poisoning, that was nearly fatal and left him deaf. This created for him an even greater isolation than was his by nature. After 1793 he began to create uncommissioned works, particularly small cabinet paintings. His portraits of the duchess of Alba, who enjoyed the painter's close friendship and love, are elegant and direct and not flattering. Almost all the notables of Madrid posed for him during those years. Two of his most celebrated paintings, Maja nude and Maja clothed (both: Prado), were painted c.1797–1805. Goya did his chief religious work in 1798, creating a monumental set of dramatic frescoes in the Church of San Antonio de la Florida, Madrid.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.