NIGHTMARES OF REASON
An amazing restoration work on a series of Francisco José de Goya y Lucientes’ private drawings is been exhibited at Courtauld Gallery in London until 25 May.
Album D, the Witches and Old Women Album, (circa 1819), have been brought together for the first time to the public in 150 years. Visions and nightmares, superstitions and the problem of old age (represented by witches) are the themes of these drawings, executed only in brush and grey ink and in small scales – you can see quite a few people using magnifying glasses to appreciate in full their details. Although a metaphor of the historical period in Spain and the long Inquisition, they represent mainly neural glimpses of Goya’s mind: his obsession with madness, the unconscious and the human animal.
These darker visions in Goya’s work appear after a mental breakdown and catastrophic illness that left him progressively deaf and socially isolated – presumably the cause was a lead intoxication from the pigments of his paints. After Goya’s death in 1828 these drawings passed to his only son, Javier (five of his six children died as infants – infants and witches are recurrent images in the album) and his grandson and later were bought by Francisco de Madrazo, who became director of the Museo do Prado.
He wakes up kicking.
Nightmare – detail (1816-1820)