Tuesday, 10 May 2011

Bite 107: Francisco de Goya - Saturn Devouring His Son, 1819-23

Saturn Devouring His Son, 1819-23,
oil mural transferred from canvas,  143 x 81 cm, Prado
Imagine looking at this painting everyday, on the wall of your house. Piercing wide eyes maniacally peering back at you through the darkness from behind a half eaten corpse.

Saturn Devouring His Son was among the so called Black Paintings found on the walls of Goya's house, Quinta del Sordo (Villa of the Deaf Man) - named for a previous resident, although Goya was also deaf when he lived there.

The subject here, taken from Greek mythology, is Titan Cronus (romanitised as Saturn), who, fearing that his children would overthrow him, ate each one at birth. He desperately grasps his child, possessed and demented, its gory stump of an arm protruding from the creatures wide, black mouth.

As with all of the Black Paintings - particularly The Dog - their intended meaning can only be guessed at. None-the-less, largely due to this enigmatic quality, they continue to haunt and inspire.