Francisco de Goya, Witches' Sabbath - The Great He-Goat (El aquelarre, o El Gran Cabrón)

Museo del Prado, Madrid

Date: 1820 - 1823
Technique: Mixed technique on wall, 140,5 cm x 435,7 cm

All of the witches are facing a demon in the form of a male goat that presides over the ceremony, ''aided'' by a ''secretary'', to his right. At the other end there is a young woman, almost a girl, seated on a chair, waiting for the initiation to begin.
The group of witches that are the focus of the scene are not moving about, but neither are they motionless. Goya's brushwork, each stroke, and the overall composition give the group considerable dynamism, as if they were worked up by some sort of ectasy. The faces are deformed, figures are bent, and some of them seem frightened.

In this work Goya returns to themes that had interested him in the final years of the eighteenth century, in his drawings, prints, and paintings. In this series the artist eliminates all sense of comedy, even the critical approach he had used in earlier years. He does not criticize witchcraft, neither does he ridicule it; he limits himself to presenting the world of darkness. (Valeriano Bozal, Goya-Black Paintings)


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