Witches Sabbath (1789) by Francisco Goya

Witches Sabbath - Francisco Goya - 1789

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Artwork Information

TitleWitches Sabbath
ArtistFrancisco Goya
Dimensions44 x 31 cm
Art MovementRomanticism
Current LocationMuseo Lázaro Galdiano, Madrid, Spain

About Witches Sabbath

The artwork “Witches Sabbath” is a mythological painting by Francisco Goya, created in 1789. It is executed in oil on canvas and measures 44 x 31 cm. The piece is a representation of the Romanticism art movement and is currently housed at the Museo Lázaro Galdiano in Madrid, Spain. The artwork exhibits typical Romantic qualities such as the emphasis on intense emotion and the supernatural.

The painting presents a dark and evocative scene set under a crescent moon, with a central figure of a large goat adorned with a wreath of greenery, which may symbolize the “Great He-Goat” or the devil in the context of a witch gathering. Surrounding the goat-like figure are various individuals engaged in what appears to be a ritualistic assembly. Their gazes are fixed upon the central figure with reverence and fear, contributing to the sinister atmosphere.

The goat’s eyes are illuminated, almost with a sense of knowing, and its presence dominates the scene. The figures around the goat are portrayed with a mix of fascination and horror, their distorted features and the chaotic composition suggesting a wild, transgressive nature of the gathering. To the left, a woman holds a child up to the goat, which can be interpreted as an offering or initiation. The palette is dominated by earthy tones punctuated by the stark whites of the participants’ clothing and the dark backdrop of the night sky. The brushwork is loose and expressive, capturing the tumultuous energy of the scene.

The artwork stands as a powerful example of Goya’s interest in the fantastical and the irrational, themes that are recurrent in his oeuvre and reflect the darker undercurrents of Romanticism. It encapsulates the period’s fascination with the supernatural, the mystical, and the macabre, while also allowing for a myriad of interpretations regarding its enigmatic narrative.

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