Monday, 19 August 2013


The greatest artist ...ever!

If you were to ask me whom I considered the greatest artist ever, I would not hesitate one moment for it is Francisco Goya

I hope one day soon to write an extended article on Goya but meanwhile, let's look at just one of his paintings

Its called Witches' Flight

This great painting was completed in 1798, the year Napoleon invaded Egypt.

Witches in Flight shows three young, male witches abducting a fourth figure. Together they are bearing him aloft, his back arched in agony or in some kind of terrified swoon.

It may be that the witches are trying to eat him!

Below, a second man lies on the ground trying to block out the sounds by covering his ears.

A third figure has abandoned his donkey, covered his head with a sheet and - as he flees the scene - sticks out his thumbs between the index and second fingers of each hand in a (futile) gesture designed to ward off evil.

In Spanish this gesture is called the figa.

Apart from the breath-taking drama of this painting and its brilliant execution, it is almost certainly a satirical work.

Goya saw superstition as a crippling weakness and one to which the uneducated proletariat of Spain were particularly prone.

This painting is also a sideways swipe at the Spanish Inquisition that spent a great deal of energy hunting down and burning 'witches' rather than educating the illiterate and helping the poor peasants of Spain.

Since the Catholic Church was the force behind the Inquisition, priests were equally prone to superstition and clearly capable of dabbling with witchcraft and devilry:

Goya's Witches' Flight is just one of a series of masterpieces that Goya created around  this disturbing subject.

If you would like to see the range, technical accomplishment and emotional power of Goya's art, then click on the link below:


If you would like to get a sense of the power of his engravings, click on the link below:


Mike Healey

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