1798. Oil on canvas. 205 x 133 cm. Museo del Prado, Madrid, Spain. Read Note.
Gaspar Melchor de Jovellanos (1744-1811) Spanish liberal statesman and author, born at Gijon, Asturias. First he studied theology, but his uncle, the Duke of Losada, dissuaded him from an ecclesiastical career, and advised to practise law. Gaspar followed the advice. In time he was made a judge in the criminal court of Seville, and later took higher places on the bench. While at Seville, he got interested in mechanics, agriculture and economy, and undertook certain actions to improve the conditions of the working people. At the same time he commenced his literary career, he is the author of a number of plays and lyric verses. In 1778, Charles III summoned him to Madrid. In 1788 Charles III died, and in 1790 Gaspar had to leave Madrid and go into exile. Then, to his great surprise, he was appointed minister of justice. He held the post in 1797-99, but with the fall of Godoy he lost his office and had to return to his native Gijon. There, in 1801, he was arrested and kept a prisoner in Majorca until 1808. On coming back to the mainland, he was notified that Joseph Bonaparte had appointed him his minister. He refused, accepting instead a place on the national Junta Central, as the representative of Asturias. The following political events made him again to flee before the advance of the French, to his native province. During this journey he died of pneumonia at Puerto de Vega.