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    A fascinating and highly entertaining look at one of the most important families of the Renaissance era--the Medici.
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Entries in Pre-Rococo (1)


Goya: The Darkness of Life in Paint

Francisco de Goya - Duel with Cudgels - 1820-23 - Oil on canvas, 123 x 266 cm - Museo del Prado, Madrid (click photo for larger image)Rococo Era painter Francisco de Goya y Lucientes (1746-1828) was a Spanish artist whose work reflected contemporary historical upheavals and influenced important 19th- and 20th-century painters. Although he was a revolutionary artist, he had no immediate followers. However, his work heavily influenced movements that would follow—including Romanticism, Realism and Impressionism—as well as Expressionism and Surrealism.   

There are fourteen Black Paintings (now in the Museo del Prado), “so called because of the dark tones and predominance of black.” They originally decorated the Quinta del Sordo (House of the Deaf Man). They were painted, in oils, on the walls of two rooms on the ground floor and first floor, and were transferred to canvas in 1873. Goya acquired the house in September 1819, but probably did not begin the paintings before the following year, after his recovery from serious illness.

Although Goya survived, a condition of deafness that pre-dated his illness remained. This changed his character in a way that is reflected in his art. A constant fear of a relapse made him impatient, and this is also evident in his vigorous technique. “As his monstrous imagining found expression, he darkened the walls in two rooms with terrible scenes of witches and visions of evil spirits. A fantastic horde of cynically grimacing hags and ghosts fill these rooms.”

In the work featured here, two men are battling each other with cudgels. Both are standing up to their knees in sand, so that neither can run away. Whether even the victor will be able to extricate himself remains unclear. There are no spectators in sight—only a bleak landscape with foreboding images.