Goya's "Saturn Devouring His Children" (Francisco Goya, ~1819-1823, Oil
mural transferred to canvas, Romantic (1800-1850), Spain, currently part of the
Museo de Prado's collection) shows a horrific scene of the Titan Saturn literally eating his children. Saturn was doing this because he was concerned his
children were going to kill him off and succeed his kingship. Part of the Romantic art movement included scenes of horrific or Gothic imagery,
particularly those that showed extreme emotions such as pain and anguish.
1819, Goya purchased a house that was remote so he could focus on his work. By
this time, he was aging and had several medical issues that were plaguing him.
Some of his symptoms included deafness, tinnitus, and balance issues (which I
personally have due to years of working on helicopters), plus the onset of paranoid dementia. He was frightened of his diseases, and started to translate
that fear and anguish into his paintings. The Black Paintings were the
culmination of his painting techniques and his feelings of despair as his
health deteriorated. (D. Garcia, "Goya" (Madrid: Artista Publicación,
1948), pg 84-88). "Nigel Glendinning, a Professor of Spanish at London’s
Queen Mary College in the 1970s, argues that Goya was motivated to use a young
adult in his painting because of this personal frustration with his old age.
Being fervently sick and unlucky in true love had much to do with Goya’s
artistic choice. Attacking the young adult with crazed enthusiasm represents
his conflict with time and how it changes people, more specifically:
himself." (http://public.wsu.edu/~kimander/goyasblackpaintings.htm. Goya's
Black Paintings. Web. 21 March 2015.)
wild brushwork and the crazed look in the Titan Saturn's eyes as he performs
his cannibalistic ritual on his child enhances the insanity of the subject. Goya
understood he was having serious issues, and he translated these thoughts into
some of his paintings. Another example of incorporating his fear into his
artwork is "Corral de Locos" (Francisco Goya, ~1793, oil on tin,
Spain, Meadows Museum), depicting an asylum yard filled with insane lunatics.
He had visited several institutions earlier in his life, and he was so
concerned that he was becoming paranoid and delusional that it impacted the way
he thought and painted. This gave him an insight to what true insanity was like,
and he was able to translate this into the way he painted Saturn. The dark
tones (black and browns in particular) helped to impress a sense of despair and dread on the viewer. The distorted face of Saturn, his eyes wild and bulging as
he tears parts off of his child and consumes them, solidifies the crazed,
internally conflicted Titan's insane actions.
Iron Noder 2017