Francisco Goya didn't expect to become a great artist after he was rejected by the Madrid Academy of Fine Arts. He later surprised everyone by becoming a spectacular success. His work was so unique that he has been called the most original Spanish artist.
Francisco was born in Fuendetodos, Spain, on March 30, 1746. He took his first art lessons from his father, who was a master gilder. Francisco also learned etching from friendly local monks. He became an apprentice at age 14 to a village painter and realized that he wanted to become an artist. However, the art academy rejected him in 1763 and 1766, which greatly disappointed the young man. Goya didn't give up on his dream of becoming a painter, though, and traveled to Italy to study. He learned how to paint in the bold Rococo style and even won second prize in a painting contest in Rome.
Goya triumphantly went back to Spain in 1771 and began painting frescoes in the local cathedral. He also studied with an artist named Francisco Bayeu and later married Bayeu's sister, Josefa. His marriage helped him get a job creating designs for the royal tapestry factory in Madrid from 1773 until 1778. He designed 42 tapestries that showed scenes from everyday life, and he developed new techniques that helped weavers do their craft with precision. Tapestry design was fun, but Goya still wanted to be a full-time painter.