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Goya’s black paintings: Heads in a landscape

Goya’s black paintings: Heads in a landscape

Artist Francisco Goya
Title Heads in a landscape
Year 1819-1823
Technique Mural (later converted to canvas)
Current location Private collection
Francisco Goya - Black Paintings - Heads in a landscape

Heads in a landscape

Fourteen of Goya’s black paintings are on display in the Prado Museum. Many descriptions of the black paintings only include these fourteen paintings. They were painted on the walls of two large rooms of Goya’s house. If there were only fourteen paintings, and one of them (Two old people eating) was painted over an entrance, one of the walls would be bare – probably the spot next to the half-submerged dog upstairs. (Have a look at the plan of the two rooms for an overview of the probable locations of the paintings.)

It seems there must have been a fifteenth painting. Several experts, including José Manuel Arnaiz in his book Las pinturas negras de Goya, have argued the missing painting is Heads in a landscape. When and why this painting was separated from the others we do not know, but it must have happened before 1846. It is now part of a private collection. Las pinturas negras de Goya has more information on the painting’s history.

Heads in a landscape is probably the only painting on this blog that I have never seen, and my description is based solely on a reproduction. It depicts a landscape, with in the bottom right five people, suspiciously looking around the corner, out of the painting, to us, the spectators, intruders in their world. The painting seems to be a window through which we can look in, but the inhabitants of this landscape can (and do) also look out.

Heads in a landscape probably formed a pair with Half-submerged dog.

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