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  • Writer's pictureBen Samuel

Francisco Goya's Black Paintings (Pinturas negras)

Self-portraitca (1796) by Francisco Goya

"Fantasy, abandoned by reason, produces impossible monsters; united with it, she is the mother of the arts and the origin of marvels." - Francisco Goya

At the age of 72 Francisco Goya (1746 – 1828), in a state of mental and physical despair retreated from public life to a two-story house outside Madrid called Quinta del Sordo (Deaf Man's Villa) where he completed 14 or 15 'Black Paintings' between the years 1819 and 1823. All the paintings were painted in dark oils directly onto the walls of his farmhouse and were never intended to be seen by the public. The paintings are said to reflect the despair and misanthropy Goya felt during this period.

(Saturno devorando a su hijo), Saturn Devouring His Son

Many of the murals were painted over lighter rural scenes that may have also been painted by Goya. Goya utilised the backgrounds of some of the lighter scenes such as in the (Duelo a garrotazos), Fight with Cudgels below.

(Duelo a garrotazos), Fight with Cudgels

(El perro), The Dog

In 1874 due to growing concern over the condition of the paintings, the then owner Baron Frédéric Émile d'Erlanger arranged to have them moved. Goya had painted the murals on top of a layer of wallpaper, this layer was carefully removed and reapplied to canvas under the supervision of Salvador Martínez Cubells. In 1881 the baron donated the paintings to the Spanish state and they are now on display at the Museo del Prado.

(El Gran Cabrón/Aquelarre), Witches' Sabbath

(Dos viejos comiendo sopa), Two Old Men Eating Soup

(Hombres leyendo), Men Reading

(Átropos/Las Parcas), Atropos (The Fates)

Photograph of (Átropos/Las Parcas), Atropos (The Fates) taken by Jean Laurent in 1874 as part of an in situ photographic inventory.

(Vision fantástica/Asmodea), Fantastic Vision

(La romería de San Isidro), A Pilgrimage to San Isidro

(Peregrinación a la fuente de San Isidro/Procesión del Santo Oficio), Procession of the Holy Office

(Dos viejos/Un viejo y un fraile), Two Old Men

(Judith y Holofernes), Judith and Holofernes

(Mujeres riendo), Women Laughing

(Una manola/La Leocadia), Leocadia

Heads in a Landscape (Cabezas en un paisaje, is possibly a fifteenth Black Painting

Goya never named the paintings as they were not intended to be seen. They are now referred to by the names given to them by art historians.

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