In 1819, Goya was 72 years old and nearing the end of his productive, yet trouble-filled life. Having become completely deaf at age 46, living through the violence of the Napoleonic Wars and the turbulence of Spanish politics after the defeat of Napoleon, Goya developed an embittered attitude towards the possibilities of human society. He moved into a simple rectangular, two-story house outside Madrid with his 30 year old companion, Leocadia Weiss. The "Quinta del sordo", or "Country-house of the Deaf-Man" was named after a previous owner who had also been deaf. Living outside the city made Goya's cohabitation with Leocadia less obtrusive to the social mores of Restoration-era Madrid.
Goya proceeded to decorate the "Quinta del sordo" with some of the most intense, disturbing images ever painted. Executed in oil directly on the plaster walls, these so-called "black paintings" represent the culmination of Goya's artistic efforts. They combine the freedom, or "Capricho", and eerie imagery of his etchings with the scale and decorative purpose of the tapestry cartoons he executed early in his career. After almost two hundred years, they retain their capacity to reduce the viewer to shocked silence.
Goya did not title these works, and although art historians have supplied their own titles, I have not identified the paintings by these names in this exhibition. Rather than prejudice your perception, I prefer for the images to speak for themselves, as they did in the "Quinta del sordo". In this way, I hope to convey the full sense of frightful awe, the eternal significance engendered by these ultimate images of Francisco de Goya.
The fourteen paintings shown in this exhibition are those originally exhibited in Goya's Quinta del sordo. Executed in oil on the plaster walls of the cottage, they were removed to the Prado Museum in Madrid in the late nineteenth century. Quinta del sordo was a two-story, rectangular building, but art historians are unsure of the precise floorplan. However, the relative placement of the paintings themselves as shown in this exhibition is in accordance with art historical research. The paintings, in the "full wall" screen displays, are in proper size proportion relative to each other, at a scale of 2 pixels = 1 centimeter.
By clicking on the paintings, each can be viewed in up to three levels of greater detail. Clicking on the highest level of detail will return you to the "full wall" view. Click on the right or left areas of the "full wall" view to turn to the right or left, respectively. Click on the stairs to go to the upper floor. To return to the introductory page at any time, click on the "GOYA: The Black Paintings" logo at the bottom of the display.
Please be sure to let me know how you like the exhibition!