• Hardik Gohil

Pinturas Negras (The Black Paintings): Part 1

Updated: Nov 19, 2020

The Spanish civil war, which began in 1820 with a revolt of the militants against the absolutist rule of King Ferdinand v11, ended in 1823 after the agreement between the European Crowned Heads allowing the French army to invade Spain which is also called as Spanish Expedition by the French army.

Francisco Goya, the creator of the dark masterpieces which we are going to observe today, moved to Madrid in 1819 and purchased Quinta del Sordo (Villa of a Deaf man).

As the name suggests, the owner of the Villa was a deaf man. Coincidently, Goya was diagnosed with a severe illness when he was 42 which affected his sense of hearing and turned completely deaf by the time he was 72.

He was the witness not only to the violence across Spain during the Civil war (1820-1823), but also to the political unrest during the French revolution (1789 - 1799) when he was in his 40s. The rising unemployment, social injustice, new political reforms emerging, economic distress and mismanagement causing a severe problem for the farmers, and many other drawbacks of the King Louis xv1 regime resulted in the downfall of the monarchy and emergence of the Dictatorship under Napolean 1 during the years of French Revolution.

All of these event were witnessed by Goya and it is somehow reflected in his work The Black Paintings. There are 14 such paintings which he created, not with an intention of publishing them, rather he hung all of them on the walls of his villa Quinta del Sordo.

Fear, anxiety, sadness, violence, death, regret and other negative emotions are highlighted in his work.

These are my Observations:

The Dog:

- The dark portion seems to be a hill which covers the body of the Dog (could be a retriever), except its head.

- Staring in horror by the sight of something as cruel as death, upwards.

- The dark portion could also resemble an ocean wave which is enormous in size and the dog is trying to swim, submerged in water except for the head, knowing that this wave is about to swallow him alive.

- The only living creature with fear in his eyes, depicting loneliness and depression.

- It seems like he has given up by not moving in order to save himself, instead, he is ready to face death as his fate by staring at it in despair.

Two Old men:

- A Hermit with a long white beard with both of his hands on the wooden cane bearing his whole bodyweight indicates that age has whittled him down and he is too dependent on others to carry out basic tasks.

- His eyes are just hollows, probably he is blind , walking in pitch dark with a mutant like being with a deformed face, short nose and long ears.

- The Hermit is wearing a filthy cape, probably not washed since ages, covering his body.

- The mutant rests his left hand on the Hermit's shoulder with his mouth close to his ear, as if he is trying to whisper something, probably deceiving the poor blind Hermit by giving him wrong directions to follow, his nefarious intentions are evident by his expressions.

- Seems like the Hermit trusts the mutant somehow to let him rest his hand on his shoulder.

- Probably, Goya is the Hermit, who is old, all of his senses have given up, and the mutant trying to whisper something into his ear could be his desire of his ear drums to reciprocate to the sounds and vibrations, just like before.

Men Reading:

- Contrast of black background and the gleaming white shirt of the man in the middle who is reading something along with the two other men who are reading too.

- The Person with the long beard holding the book or a newspaper is trying to guide the other two men with reading something by placing his finger on it.

- The other three men in the background are oblivious to this piece of information.

- The men reading could be the cruel politicians, not wanting the other men to know about their strategy to create chaos and unrest for their own political ulterior motives.

- The man staring up at the sky indicates that he has submitted himself to the Supreme.

Judith and Holofernes:

- The detailed description of the Painting Judith beheading Holofernes by Caravaggio can be seen in the blog A Widow with a Sword

- In this painting, unlike in Caravaggio's work, Holofernes is on his knees begging Judith for mercy by folding his hands, who is about to swirl the Sword against his neck.

- Judith is wearing a gown exposing her collar bones, trying to seduce the Commander in General in this painting, eventually deceiving him.

- For more information on this biblical event, please click on the link highlighted above.

Women Laughing:

- The man in the right is being mocked by the two women.

- The man's right hand is inside his pants, probably touching himself, and the women watching this are laughing at him.

- Probably, Goya was trying to express his sexual desires, which he could fulfill by touching himself, despite of having women around him, without any sexual intercourse as he was in his mid 70s.

- Probably, he had this desire to get laid with two women at a time, but all he could do is imagine, without actually touching any of those women sitting next to him.

- May be the two women are the part of his imagination, behind those closed eyes, mouth half open, as if he is moaning in pleasure, about to get an orgasm!

Please stay tuned for Pinturas Negras (The Black Paintings): Part 2

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