why did goya paint the black paintings
(Dos viejos/Un viejo y un fraile), Two Old Men, 1819–1823
The chromatic range of the Black Paintings is limited to ochre, gold, brown, grey and black. Only the occasional white shines from clothes to give contrast or the rare stroke of blue from the sky or green from a landscape.
”I’m totally unconvinced by it, because I’ve read all the documents he is using,” Glendinning says. ”Inevitably, a lot of this is hypothetical, but his hypotheses don’t in the least convince me. My view would be that the documents don’t actually say whether the house had two stories or one.” The philological evidence regarding the Brugada inventory also underwhelms him: ”History of the language isn’t an exact science. What people do is find the earliest reference they can. People don’t go looking for these technical terms used for furniture.” While Glendinning agrees that the grand staircase in the Quinta was added after Goya’s death, he emphasizes that Carderera reports seeing wall paintings and that the earlier staircase presumably led to a second story. The missing testimony of Goya’s friends? They were mostly old men who died at about the same time he did. Junquera insists that Glendinning fails to understand the rustic nature of the Quinta and thinks that ”a country house in Spain is like a manor house in Surrey.” He says, dismissively, ”Glendinning knows nothing about the decoration of the 18th century.”
Junquera was prepared for that reaction. Once he became convinced that the work could not be by Goya, he ran down the roster of likely suspects before finally arriving at the name of the one painter who had full access to the Quinta and knowledge of the master’s oeuvre and technique. All the markers pointed in one direction: Goya’s son Javier. ”I think he did this for pleasure,” Junquera says. But why were they then passed off as Goyas? Continuing down this trail of supposition to identify the person who stood to profit most from the subterfuge, Junquera zeroed in on the grandson — Javier’s only son, Mariano. A profligate who was chronically in need of funds, Mariano could fetch a higher price for the house if he passed off wall decorations, which he knew to be his father’s, as originals by the great Goya.
If it seems a very long way from such sumptuous, social painting to the unforgiving bleakness of the picture known as The Dog (1819–1823), or the unrelenting horror of his picture of Saturn, it might be worth thinking again about what might motivate such a man as Goya to imagine and enact such things as The Black Paintings. Perhaps, because we fear the loss of the things we love, and because that loss is absolutely assured in death, the Black Paintings exist within and behind those images and objects we cherish as materially “good.” If we think again, perhaps Goya was always destined to bring such images into the world. And, because we may as well do so without flinching, that terrible image of Saturn is as good a place to start thinking again.
Luscious oils and the spring of canvas gave a taut sense of social humanity to his best portraits. Their light imbued flesh with a living quality, their faith to reality gave a sense of honesty — an honesty only redoubled by the liberties he took to make the eyes supernaturally expressive, the fasciae exaggeratedly communicative. His Portrait of Maria Luisa de Parma (1789) is a perfect example of these qualities, whilst also showcasing the keenness of observation and detail which allowed him to both celebrate and complicate the lavishness of Madrid’s upper classes.
Interestingly so, Goya didn’t title the paintings, and the majority of the names used are designations imposed by art historians, though in 1828 Goya’s friend, Antonio Brugada cataloged the works. Now these fourteen paintings are known under the following titles: Two Old Men, Atropos (The Fates), Two Old Men Eating Soup, Fight with Cudgels, Witches’ Sabbath, Men Reading, Judith and Holofernes, Saturn Devouring His Son, A Pilgrimage to San Isidro, Women Laughing, Procession of the Holy Office, The Dog, La Leocadia, and Fantastic Vision.
Today, Goya’s The Black Paintings are on permanent display at the Museo del Prado. Although they were quite damaged in the first place due to the delicate operation of transferal to canvas, this series marked a milestone of Goya’s entire practice and is considered as a grandiose testimony of the great artist, a proof of his genius and care for the well-being of humanity.
If you enjoyed this video, consider joining me on Patreon. Doing so allows me to continue creating videos such as this on a regular basis. Everything goes towards the creation of more videos, props, and equipment upgrades.
Выполните вход, чтобы сообщить о неприемлемом контенте.