Francisco Goya’s Black Paintings, 1819-23, oil murals transferred to canvases, Museo del Prado, Madrid.
Saturn Devouring his Son, 143 x 81 cm; The Dog, 131.5 x 79.3 cm; Two Old Men Eating Soup, 49.3 x 83.4 cm; Judith and Holofernes, 143.5 x 81.4 cm; Two Old Men, 146 x 66 cm; The Fates, 123 x 266 cm; Fight with Cudgels, 123 x 266 cm; Witches’ Sabbath, 140 x 438 cm; Fantastic Vision, 125.4 x 65.4 cm; Man Mocked by Two Women, 125.4 x 65.4 cm.
Here is a selection of works from Goya’s famous ‘Black Paintings’ series, which consists of fourteen murals that were painted directly onto the walls of the Quinta del Sordo house in Madrid, where the artist lived between 1819 and 1823. They have since been removed, transferred to canvases, and become part of the Museo del Prado’s collection.
The series is pretty dark, to say the least. It is rife with themes of witchcraft, insanity, violence and death’s inevitability. My personal favourite is Saturn Devouring his Son, which is based on the story of Saturn’s Greek counterpart, Cronus, and how he ate his sons after hearing that they would eventually overthrow him. However, Saturn/Cronus was tricked by Rhea into swallowing a stone instead of one of his children. This son, of whom Rhea was the mother, was Zeus, and he would eventually have Cronus and the other titans imprisoned. Goya’s depiction is deliciously gory and terrifying. Saturn’s face is enough to give you nightmares!