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Goya’s black paintings: Saturn devouring one of his children

Goya’s black paintings: Saturn devouring one of his children

Artist Francisco Goya
Title Saturn devouring one of his children
Year 1819-1823
Technique Mural (later converted to canvas)
Current location Museo del Prado, Madrid, Spain
Francisco Goya - Black Paintings - Saturn devouring one of his children

Saturn devouring one of his children

Saturn devouring one of his children probably formed a pair with Judith and Holofernes, the painting we discussed in my previous article. It is the most gruesome, but probably also the best known, of the black paintings. It depicts a scene from classic mythology. Saturn (in Greek mythology: Cronos) has been told that one day he would be overthrown by one of his sons. To prevent this, he killed and devoured all of his children immediately after their births. His wife hid one of their children (Jupiter, or Zeus in Greek), and this child later indeed overthrew his father.

Goya has painted Saturn as a large, deformed monster with bulging eyes that has apparently bitten of his victim’s head in one bite. The gory, battered, lifeless body of the victim evokes disgust more than pity. Strangely, the victim is an adult, or possibly a teenager, but not a baby (as in the story).

Saturn devouring one of his children is on display in the Museo del Prado in Madrid.

3 Comments

  1. If you look into Saturns eyes you can see that he is desperate. His concious existence has become so intollerable that he has resorted to devouring his son. Years of psychological abuse at the hands of primary care givers made Saturn into the monster that exists in the painting. He needs help. But its too late.

    • Thank you for your comment, John. I agree that Saturn looks desperate. But what do you mean by “abuse at the hands of primary care givers”? Who abused Saturn, in your opinion?

  2. saturns eyes are desperate nervous,hands tightly clutching the body old age devouring youth.

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  1. Goya’s black paintings: Judith and Holofernes | Henk van Kampen photography - [...] painting probably formed a pair with Saturn devouring one of his children: Saturn is biting off his victim’s head,…
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