Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Francisco Goya

My history of magic, science, and religion class had just recently been discussing the artwork of Francisco Goya.  Although we only spoke of a few paintings and talked about them very briefly, I was still intrigued and decided to look further into his works.  Born in Spain in 1746, Goya lived in a time of Romanticism and a shift of mystical and superstitious views in the world.  His early, atypical drawings and paintings initially depicted important and high officials.  But his developing interest in naturalism and fantasy affected his later paintings and seemed to portray a different subject of interest.  This interest was heavily influenced by his growing illness beginning in 1792 that left him temporarily blind and paralyzed and permanently deaf.  He eventually died in 1828.  However, his growing suffering was directly proportional to his creativity in order to create paintings with theme of depictions of superstitions, disturbing messages, and mythological stories.

Witches' Sabbath, 1797-98

This image to the left depicts a typical superstitious view of witches and their gatherings in the Renaissance to early Enlightenment age.  Historically, these secret meetings would be called the Witches' Sabbath, which is where this painting gets its name from.  The goat in the center of the painting is a classic depiction of the devil in its beast-like and demonic form.  The devil-worshippers or witches surround the goat to continue on with their ceremony.  The coven of both young and old witches are presenting the devil with both live infants as seen in the arms of the witch to the far right and skeletons of infants, as seen on the ground to the left.  Goya presents an eerie and disturbing message to the viewer and sheds a negative light on witches and the actions they practice.  This message presents itself to be very common in this age and shows up through the works of many other famous artists.

Witches' Flight, 1797-98

The painting to the left has a very similar message to the Witches' Sabbath.  This painting also shows to the viewer the fantastic powers and abilities witches were believed to possess.  In this case, witches had the ability to fly.  In this particular depiction, three flying witches are carrying what it looks like to be a dying or an already dead man above another man hiding himself underneath a sheet.  Goya's disturbing paintings of witches further supported the superstitions people believed and followed in the early 18th century.

Saturn Devouring His Son, 1819-1823

This last image I wanted to present to the left can be considered to be one of Goya's most disturbing images to have been discovered.  The gruesome image makes it very difficult to look at upon first glance and has a lasting effect as we go on to analyze it.  According to ancient Roman legend, a prophecy told the titan Saturn that one of his sons would over power him.  In order to prevent this, Saturn did the most sensible thing he could think of and would devour each child as they were born.  Goya harnessed the message of this tale and decided to transfer its horror to a single painting and definitely gets this point across.  Although Goya's sickness drove him to paint disturbing and sadistic images, the creative genius is one to treasure and to appreciate for years to come.

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