Visual History of the World

(CONTENTS)
 

 


HISTORY OF CIVILIZATION & CULTURE

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
Photography
Classical Music
Literature and Philosophy

Visual History of the World
Prehistory
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

The "Black Paintings"
"The House of the Deaf Man"
Goya's Flying Creatures

 



 

 

 


The "Black Paintings"


 






Francisco de Goya
Self-Portrait
Capricho N. 1
1797-1798
 



Francisco de Goya
Saturn Devouring One of his Children

1819-23
Plaster mounted on canvas, 146 x 83 cm
Museo del Prado, Madrid
 

In 1819 Goya bought a small country house outside Madrid, where he could live with his young companion, Leocadia Weiss, far from the bustle and gossip of the city. In the same year he became so ill that he nearly died. After his recovery, he retired almost completely from public life and worked mainly for himself, thus freeing himself from having to take account of public expectations. In addition to the frescoes he painted in his house, known as "the House of the Deaf Man," he created a series of strange, absurd etchings. It was not until the Surrealists of the 20th century that artists were to draw so heavily on their own fantasies and dreams. Goya's images, however, are also a reflection of dramatic, radical political change. After the apparent victory of the supporters of reform in the uprising of 1820, the purges of the Inquisition and the secret police recommenced.
 

 

 


Francisco de Goya
The Colossus

1808
Oil on canvas, 120 x 100 cm
Museo del Prado, Madrid
 

 


Francisco de Goya
The Colossus

1818
Mezzotint engraving, 285 x 210 mm
 



"The House of the Deaf Man"


 


Francisco de Goya
Self-Portrait with Doctor Arrieta
1820
Oil on canvas 117x79cm
Minneapolis, The Institute of Arts

In the long dedication at the lower edge of the painting Goya records his thanks to the doctor who cared for him during his dangerous illness.
The self-portrait shows the mortally ill painter helpless in the arms of the solicitous doctor, who is in the act of giving him medicine.
It is only on second glance that we notice the outlines of faces in the background; they seem harbingers of the somber visions
Goya painted on the walls of his house after his recovery. The color is so thin in places that the canvas is visible.
 



Francisco de Goya
Man in disguise (Goya?)
1823

The country house which Goya bought in 1819 for 60,000 reales lay outside Madrid, on the banks of the Manzanares, and was soon called Quinta del Sordo, "the House of the Deaf Man." Goya had reason enough, private and political, to flee city life. Under the disapproving eyes of his relatives, the young Leocadia Weiss had become his companion after the death of his wife. She was separated from her husband and made no secret of her liberal politics. She and her small daughter Rosario moved into the Quinta del Sordo with Goya.
In the two largest rooms of the house, Goya painted his last major series of pictures: 14 frescoes called the "Black Paintings" because of their predominantly dark colors and somber themes. They were painted in oils directly onto the walls. In the late 19th century they were detached from the walls and transferred to canvas. The Black Paintings belong to Goya's most enigmatic and oppressive works. One of the paintings shows an outlandish procession of pilgrims in a dark mountain landscape; and another, two men in a desolate landscape fighting with cudgels while sinking into quicksand. Then again, we make out figures hovering indistinctly in the air as in the painting Vision (Asmodea). In these paintings dark forces, fanaticism, violence and fear hold sway. These oppressive visions give a vivid impression of Goya's fears and reveal him to be a lonely, deaf old man who had withdrawn into a deeply depressive and critical view of life. The Spanish author Ortega y Gasset (1883-1955) wrote of Goya's work: "Is what we see good or bad? Does it mean what we think it does, or exactly the opposite? Is its effect an expression of the artist's wish, or does what he paints come into existence independently of his will? In a word, is he a highly significant genius or a madman?" In many of the Black Paintings Goya adopted mythological or biblical scenes which, as with his subjective visions, he represented as oppressive nightmares, as with Saturn Devouring His Children. Another painting shows the biblical figure of Judith slaying Holofernes.
One single painting radiates peace and possible reconciliation: the painting of Leocadia Weiss.
 



 


Francisco de Goya
A Pilgrimage to San Isidro

1820-23
Oil on plaster mounted on canvas, 140 x 438 cm
Museo del Prado, Madrid


 


 

 

 

 


Goya's House (The House of the Deaf Man)
19th-century print
   



"Black Paintings"



in the Quinta del Sordo

(House of the Deaf Man)


(1820-1823)
 


Francisco de Goya
Duel with Cudgels

1820-23
Oil on canvas, 123 x 266 cm
Museo del Prado, Madrid



 


Francisco de Goya
Reading

1820-21
Oil on plaster mounted on canvas, 126 x 66 cm
Museo del Prado, Madrid



 


Francisco de Goya
Two Women and a Man

1820-21
Oil on plaster mounted on canvas, 125 x 66 cm
Museo del Prado, Madrid



 


Francisco de Goya
Two Women Eating

1821-23
Oil on plaster mounted on canvas, 53 x 85 cm
Museo del Prado, Madrid



 


Francisco de Goya
Two Monks

1821-23
Oil on plaster mounted on canvas, 144 x 66 cm
Museo del Prado, Madrid


 


Francisco de Goya
El exorcizado
 

 

 



Goya's Flying Creatures


 

 


There are heads which are so full of highly explosive gas that they
require neither a balloon nor a witch to fly.

Goya
 


Francisco de Goya
A fine teacher!
Capricho No. 68

Bats, owls, witches, with and without brooms, even flying dogs, bulls and strange hybrid beings - such creatures populate Goya's pictures. The whole range of his imaginary world, of both his dreams and nightmares, is bound up in his representation of flight. At the same time as this, the motif of flight reflects the contradictions of his day, the age of reason. Science was constantly making new discoveries; electricity, magnetism, meteorology, and gravity were being researched. The conquest of gravity represented the crowning triumph of reason. This scientific aspect of
flying fascinated Goya, and not only did he portray the first balloon flight in several ways (page 47), he also occupied himself with the idea of independent flight by man. Like Leonardo da Vinci, who also drew designs for fantastical flying devices, Goya drew people with bird-like wings, as in his print A way to fly, m which strange human kites soar through the air. Yet the more man came to believe that he could explain the world through reason, the more Goya distrusted the principle of pure reason. During the course of his life, he came to recognize increasingly that the dark reverse side of reason still existed, that the power of the irrational, the energy of unbridled passions, the power of aggression and fear, were still omnipresent dangers. From time immemorial heaven had been the sphere of the divine, an ethereal region reserved for gods and angels. Goya was well acquainted with the traditional images of heavenly beings; he knew the world of Christian imagery as well as the mythological heaven of the classical gods. Yet for him, flying was, above all, an embodiment of the demonic; and here images of ancient magic practices, in which people and witches fly through the air, played a key role in his imagination. With a few strokes, Goya was able to achieve the illusion of flight in his images, and to convince the viewer that figures are truly flying. Often the symbolism of flying suggests erotic connotations, too, for floating and a weightless levitation are familiar images of sexual pleasure. This interpretation also plays its role in the well-known motif of witches riding their broomsticks. Similarly, the subtitle of one of his Black Paintings, Asmodea, refers to an oriental demon of sexual desire. Nevertheless, here the relationship between image and title remains unclear. On a broad landscape background, two closely linked figures are rushing through the air without wings. One of the figures is looking back, as though they were being pursued, while the other figure is pointing to an enormous rocky outcrop in the background. In the distance a group of horsemen are on their way to an unknown destination; on the right, two riflemen take aim - are they aiming at the two airborne figures or at the riders? The subjective world of Goya's image is beyond interpretation. The fantastical scene depicted by this painting, a work executed without a commission, points toward the world of the 20th century; in Surrealism, too, for instance with Salvador Dali or Max Ernst, a personal language of symbols, set in unreal locations, plays a major role.
 


Francisco de Goya
Asmodea

1820-23
Oil on canvas, 123 x 265 cm
Museo del Prado, Madrid


 


Francisco de Goya
Atropos (The Fates)

1821-23
Oil on plaster mounted on canvas, 123 x 266 cm
Museo del Prado, Madrid

 

 

 

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