St. Francis Borgia Helping a Dying Impenitent (1795) by Francisco Goya

St. Francis Borgia Helping a Dying Impenitent - Francisco Goya - 1795

Artwork Information

TitleSt. Francis Borgia Helping a Dying Impenitent
ArtistFrancisco Goya
Dimensions38 x 29 cm
Art MovementRomanticism
Current LocationValencia Cathedral, Valencia, Spain

About St. Francis Borgia Helping a Dying Impenitent

The artwork “St. Francis Borgia Helping a Dying Impenitent” was created by Francisco Goya in 1795. This oil on canvas painting measures 38 cm by 29 cm and exemplifies the Romanticism movement. It is a religious painting, currently housed in the Valencia Cathedral located in Valencia, Spain. The artwork captures a moment of spiritual struggle and religious fervor.

Depicting a dramatic scene, the artwork showcases St. Francis Borgia, a significant figure in the Jesuit order, attending to an impenitent individual on their deathbed. The central character, St. Francis Borgia, appears alarmed and empathetic, with his right hand raised in a protective gesture and his left clutching a crucifix firmly, as if wielding it against an unseen threat. The dying person occupies the lower left-hand corner of the composition, rendered with loosely applied brushstrokes indicative of Goya’s style, suggesting the languor and vulnerability of the human form at the edge of life. The color palette is dominated by dark, earthy tones with selective use of lighter colors to emphasize the radiance emanating from the crucifix and the supernatural aspects of the scene.

The painting’s background hints at a spiritual conflict, accentuating the gravitas of the soul’s final moments. An ill-ominous, monstrous figure looms behind the dying person, symbolizing death or evil, and heightens the painting’s tension and sense of an ensuing spiritual battle. The artwork communicates the intensity of the confrontation between faith and the forces that seek to claim an unrepentant soul, a theme characteristic of religious art in the Romantic period.

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