Friday, 13 May 2011

Bite 110: Francisco de Goya - Pilgrimage to the Hermitage of St. Isidore, 1819-23

 Pilgrimage to the Hermitage of St. Isidore, 1819-23, oil mural transferred to canvas, 139 x 436 cm, Prado
Over 30 years after Festival at the Meadow of San Isadore, when Goya is deaf and isolated, at the end of his career and near the end of his life, he paints, on the wall of his house, a scene from the same theme. Yet, could two works from the same artist be more contrasting?

Here the pilgrimage becomes a terrifying nightmare. A pilgrim in the front of the procession plucks on strings, mouth gaping more in a silent scream than a song, his head twisted, maniacal eyes rolled back. Behind him faces contort in pain and bow in melancholy, others smile sinisterly. The great mass of people under the dark sky speaks powerfully of the futility of the human condition.

This is a procession of death, a vision of hell on earth, Apocalypse.