"Black Paintings" in the Quinta del Sordo (1820-1823)
by Francisco de GOYA Y LUCIENTES

The 14 'Black Paintings' paintings (now in the Museo del Prado), so called because of the dark tones and predominance of black, originally decorated the Quinta del Sordo (House of the Deaf Man). They were painted in oils on the walls of two rooms, on the ground floor and first floor, and transferred to canvas in 1873. Goya acquired the house in September 1819, but probably did not begin the paintings before the following year, after his recovery from serious illness. When Goya recovered, his deafness remained, and this changed his character in a way that is reflected in his work. The constant fear of a relapse made him impatient, and this is also evident in his technique. As his monstrous imagining found expression, he darkened the walls in two rooms with terrible scenes of witches and visions of evil spirits. A fantastic horde of cynically grimacing hags and ghosts fill these rooms.

The paintings must have been finished by 17 September 1823, when he donated the property to his 17-year-old grandson, shortly before he went into hiding. Though it is possible to reconstruct the arrangement of the paintings in the two rooms, many of their subjects defy description and the meaning of these sombre, horrific inventions is as difficult to decipher as their appearance is sinister and forbidding. 'The Sleep of Reason Produces Monsters', Goya's title to what was possibly his first design for the frontispiece of Los Caprichos, would have been even more fitting as a title to this array of nightmare visions, created by the artist in his mid-seventies.

Suggested listening (streaming mp3, 13 minutes):
Luigi Boccherini: Symphony in D minor (The House of the Devil)


Preview Picture Data File Info Comment
Atropos (The Fates)
1821-23
Oil on plaster mounted on canvas, 123 x 266 cm
Museo del Prado, Madrid

919*442
True Color
29 Kb



Duel with Cudgels
1820-23
Oil on canvas, 123 x 266 cm
Museo del Prado, Madrid

1354*650
True Color
124 Kb



Reading
1820-21
Oil on plaster mounted on canvas, 126 x 66 cm
Museo del Prado, Madrid

600*1203
True Color
34 Kb



Two Women and a Man
1820-21
Oil on plaster mounted on canvas, 125 x 66 cm
Museo del Prado, Madrid

600*1198
True Color
41 Kb



Asmodea
1820-23
Oil on canvas, 123 x 265 cm
Museo del Prado, Madrid

1392*642
True Color
120 Kb



The Dog
1820-23
Oil on canvas, 134 x 80 cm
Museo del Prado, Madrid

700*1242
True Color
153 Kb



Manola (La Leocadia)
1820-23
Oil on canvas, 147 x 132 cm
Museo del Prado, Madrid

909*1032
True Color
124 Kb



Witches Sabbath (The Great He-Goat)
1820-23
Oil on plaster mounted on canvas, 140 x 438 cm
Museo del Prado, Madrid

2100*634
True Color
183 Kb



Saturn Devouring One of his Children
1819-23
Plaster mounted on canvas, 146 x 83 cm
Museo del Prado, Madrid

700*1287
True Color
75 Kb



A Pilgrimage to San Isidro
1820-23
Oil on plaster mounted on canvas, 140 x 438 cm
Museo del Prado, Madrid

1553*500
True Color
96 Kb



A Pilgrimage to San Isidro (detail)
1820-23
Oil on plaster mounted on canvas
Museo del Prado, Madrid

1037*770
True Color
134 Kb



A Pilgrimage to San Isidro (detail)
1820-23
Oil on plaster mounted on canvas
Museo del Prado, Madrid

1113*770
True Color
137 Kb



Two Monks
1821-23
Oil on plaster mounted on canvas, 144 x 66 cm
Museo del Prado, Madrid

550*1220
True Color
43 Kb



Two Women Eating
1821-23
Oil on plaster mounted on canvas, 53 x 85 cm
Museo del Prado, Madrid

710*406
True Color
41 Kb




Summary of works by Francisco de Goya
Paintings
before 1781 | 1781-90 | 1791-95 | 1796-1800
1801-05 | 1806-10 | 1811-15 | 1816-28
"Black Paintings" in the Quinta del Sordo (1820-1823)
Graphics
Los Caprichos (1797-99) | Los Desastres (1810-15) | etchings and lithographs
drawings (page 1) | drawings (page 2)