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Painting Analysis: Witches' Sabbath and The Great He-Goat

5 Pages 1219 Words December 2019

The tools of formal analysis that are used to unravel artwork have allowed for the comparison of these two paintings by Francisco Goya, Witches’ Sabbath and The Great He-Goat. It is only logical that these two paintings undergo intensive formal analysis because of the tremendous background story and related history. Not only do they have the same artist in common, but they also convey the same visual, expressive and storytelling components to an extent. Witches’ Sabbath was completed in 1798 by Francisco Goya and he later painted The Great He-Goat between 1821 and 1823. The exact year is unclear because Goya was in complete isolation by that time in his life. It is clear, however, that the earlier painting has an explicit influence on the later painting ranging from the same characters being depicted to the same scenario that is occurring.
Engaging in both paintings side by side can tell the evolution of the artist and how his style changed. The realistic style of the first painting is reflective of the rest of the work that led up to and includes the distant future of Goya’s projects. The second painting is in complete contrast to the first painting with its use of dark pigments and blacks which leaves me to assume that there was great trauma between the time of both paintings. In fact, there was trauma in Goya’s life where he secluded himself into his home, la Quinta del Sordo, being nearly deaf and suffering from profound depression. He was near the end of his life and created what is now known as “the Black Paintings” on the walls of his home, one of which was The Great He-Goat.
The important visual elements in the two paintings reflect the same story, but they work in a different visceral fashion. Witches’ Sabbath has the devil in the middle of a coven’s circle of witches being depicted as a large personified black goat with a garland around his horns. The coven consists of old and young disfigured witches dr...

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