Visual History of the World




From Prehistoric to Romanesque  Art
Gothic Art
Renaissance  Art
Baroque and Rococo Art
The Art of Asia
Neoclassicism, Romanticism  Art
Art Styles in 19th century
Art of the 20th century
Artists that Changed the World
Design and Posters
Classical Music
Literature and Philosophy

Visual History of the World
First Empires
The Ancient World
The Middle Ages
The Early Modern Period
The Modern Era
The World Wars and Interwar Period
The Contemporary World

Dictionary of Art and Artists


The Early Modern Period

16th - 18th century


The smooth transition from the Middle Ages to the Modern Age is conventionally fixed on such events as the Reformation and the discovery of the "New World," which brought about the emergence of a new image of man and his world. Humanism, which spread out of Italy, also made an essential contribution to this with its promotion of a critical awareness of Christianity and the Church. The Reformation eventually broke the all-embracing power of the Church. After the Thirty Years' War, the concept of a universal empire was also nullified. The era of the nation-state began, bringing with it the desire to build up political and economic power far beyond Europe. The Americas, Africa, and Asia provided regions of expansion for the Europeans.

Proportions of the Human Figure by Leonardo da Vinci (drawing, ca. 1490)
is a prime example of the new approach of Renaissance
artists and scientists to the anatomy of the human body.



Goya's Demons

Goya and the Inquisition




Goya and the Inquisition

Francisco de Goya
Capricho N. 1


Francisco de Goya
This dust
Capricho No. 23

The Inquisition had been called into being by the Church during the Middle Ages, to pursue heretics and to maintain the purity of Catholic belief. Over the centuries, the Inquisition, the so-called Holy Office, held sway in Spain and other parts of Europe. Even the slightest suspicion of heresy or sin could mean someone being delivered up to the Inquisition, particularly as believers had the duty of denunciation, under threat of the everlasting torments of Hell. Those accused of witchcraft were forced to "confess" through torture, and burning at the stake was the inescapable punishment. In Goya's time, the despotism of the Inquisition was already more subdued - the last time a witch was burned in Spain was in 1781. However, heretics and critics of the Church were still threatened with exile, disgrace, and confiscation of property. There was strict censorship, particularly of the literature of the Enlightenment-the translation, publication, and distribution of banned books and caricatures. even the possession of them, was strictly prohibited. Goya went through the humiliating performance of an Inquisitorial trial several times. These autos-da-fe took place in public, in the presence of spiritual and lay dignitaries. No spokesman for the defense was permitted; the aim of these arbitrary courts was humiliation and a public admission of guilt from the accused. The latter had to wear the sambenito, the heretic's robe, and the coroza, a high, pointed penitent's hat. Many thinkers of the Enlightenment were cited before this spiritual court, among them some of Goya's friends; they were not, however, arraigned before the court because it was decided - after Charles IV and Manuel Godoy used their influence to support them - that there was a "lack of evidence." In 1797,Goya himself was obliged to withdraw his Caprichos from sale because he feared the unwelcome attentions of the Inquisition. On one of the prints he had depicted the humiliation of an accused person in the typical robe of shame. The seemingly ambiguous caption This dust is a reference to the trivial grounds for prosecution. Contemporary observers would be able to add to these words the rest of a well-known proverb," From this dust, what a morass we have," which means something like "To make a mountain out of a molehill." During the French occupation, the religious court was abolished, but in 1814 it was reinstated under Ferdinand VII.

Francisco de Goya

Nothing Could Be Done About It
Capricho No. 24



Francisco de Goya
The Burial of the Sardine

Oil on panel, 82,5 x 59 cm
Museo de la Real Academia de San Fernando, Madrid


Francisco de Goya
The Inquisition Tribunal

Tribunal de la Inquisición o Auto de fe de la Inquisición
Museo de la Real Academia de San Fernando, Madrid


Francisco de Goya
A Procession of Flagellants

Oil on panel, 46 x 73 cm
Museo de la Real Academia de San Fernando, Madrid


Francisco de Goya
The Incantation


Francisco de Goya
El motin de Esquilache



Francisco de Goya
Witches Sabbath (The Great He-Goat)

Oil on plaster mounted on canvas, 140 x 438 cm
Museo del Prado, Madrid

Well overfour meters (about 14.4 feet) wide, this painting was also given the title Witches' Sabbath.
It was painted in Goya's large living room, immediately next to the portrait of Leocadia. Perhaps she is also depicted in this
painting: to the far right a young woman is sitting a little to one side of the gathering of witch-like creatures.
She is looking distantly at the crowd swarming around the great goat.
Since at least the Middle Ages the goat has been a symbol of the Devil and of lust;
here its figure is seen as a black silhouette, its head emerging from the wide drapes that cover its body.
Goya, who did not paint this ghostly vision for public eyes, worked with broad brushstrokes. in tones of black,
gray, and brown, with here and there a gleam of white shining from the eyes of the figures.
Every object seems to merge together and blend with the somber background into indistinct clusters.


Capricho No. 60

They have Flown, i.e. Gone for Good!
Capricho No. 61



There it goes
Capricho No. 66

Pretty teacher
Capricho No. 68



Francisco de Goya
Witches in the Air



Francisco Goya
The Great Goat



Here comes the Bogeyman

They Carried Her Off!



Love and Death

Yera su madre



They Are Hot

All Will Fail



There They Go Plucked, i.e. Fleeced

Because She Was Susceptible



Sleep Overcomes Them

They Spin Finely



What a Golden Beak!

Don't scream, stupid


Francisco de Goya
Les Vieilles or Time and the Old Women

Oil on canvas, 181 x 125 cm
Musée des Beaux-Arts, Lille



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