Art Finder Text Detail  
Item Actions
Ratings (0)

: Observations on the Origins and Meanings of Goya with the Devils in the 1820 Self-Portrait with Dr. Arrieta


John F. Moffitt



Institution Minneapolis Institute of Arts
Goya was an extraordinary painter, but surely one of the most original easel paintings within the entire range of his long and astonishing career must be the Self-Portrait with Dr. Eugenio Garcia Arrieta (figure 1), now in the collection of The Minneapolis Institute of Arts.1 The work is of immense and wide-ranging art-historical significance, in part because it is the last of Goya's many self-portraits. It is believed that he painted it at his country retreat near Madrid, the Quinta del Sordo ("House of the Deaf Man"), and given its date of execution—1820—it must be a work contemporaneous to the famous mural cycle from the Quinta del Sordo, the haunting, vastly important and still largely inexplicable "Black Paintings."2Paradoxically, the unusual Minneapolis self-portrait strikes one as being simultaneously very modern and, at the same time, almost archaically traditional in appearance. The carefully inscribed dedication at the bottom of the painting states that: "Goya gives thanks to his friend Arrieta for the expert care with which she saved his life from an acute and dangerous illness which he suffered at the close of the year 1819 when he was 73 years old. He painted it in 1820." (Goya agradecido a su amigo Arrieta: por el acierto y esmero con el que le salvo la vida en su aguda y peligrosa enfermedad, padecida a fines del ano 1819, a los setenta y tres de su eded. Lo pinto en 1820.) This grateful inscription gives the canvas the distinctively unmodern, or anachronistic appearance of an ex-voto. As the art historian Fred Licht has observed with regard to this painting:In this Goya case clearly intended to evoke a familiar form of religious painting: the ex-voto, which was then, as it is now, enormously popular in Spain. The form of the ex-voto is almost always the same. The major scene generally narrates some catastrophe that befell the votary: an attack of fever, a bad accident, a dangerous brawl. . . At the bottom of these crudely colored, primitive images there generally appears a short mishap and a fervent attestation to the miraculous power [of divine intervention]. As in a notarized document, the name of the recipient of divine grace, as well as the date of his recovery, officially concludes the text.3At the same time, a seemingly modern air is simultaneously lent to the painting by its eerie atmosphere and, especially, by the presence of curious hobgoblin-like creatures lurking in the penumbra of the background; such diabolic effects might cause the modern viewer mistakenly to think that this represents a precocious case of "Surrealisme avant la lettre."4 Be that as it may, our present task is to uncover the original meaning of this work—which is only that one intended by Goya—and to relate these concerns to the rest of his oeuvre, particularly to those earlier works in which there can be found the first employment of the central motif which characterizes the brilliant Minneapolis self-portrait: "The Dying Man with the Devils."Goya's Self-Portrait with Dr. Arrieta is composed in two painting styles. On the one hand, the two intertwined figures of the grievously ill painter to the right and the tenderly solicitous Dr. Eugenio Garcia Arrieta in the center are treated in a markedly realistic manner. On the other hand, the trio of mysteriously demonic figures seen hovering in the dark background behind Arrieta and Goya are shown to be ephemeral and imprecise, thereby acquiring the elusive character of something dimly perceived, as though in a nightmare. They seem to be the phantoms of the dying painter's "sleep of reason," the spectral offspring of an inflamed imagination, like those flying spectres seen earlier in the famous plate from Goya's print series Los Caprichos (published in 799) called El Sueno de la Razon (figure 2).The illumination in the Minneapolis painting is diffuse, bright in the foreground but quite dark in the zone behind the protagonists where the ephemeral demons lurk. A soft red keynote is struck in the lower foreground by the counterpane on the painter's bed. In contrast, the auburn-haired physician wears a green coat and has a white lace neckpiece and cuffs. He gives a beaker of burgundy-colored liquid to his wobbly-headed patient as he tenderly supports him with his left arm. The doctor's head is lighted from the left and solidly defined with vigorous passages of heavy impasto alternating with broad and delicate areas of pigment. The slumped figure of the moribund painter, however, is very thinly painted, allowing the grain of the canvas to become visible: Goya portrayed himself as on the point of disintegrating or disappearing before our very eyes. His pallid flesh tones are tinged with deathly gray tints. His unseeing eyes are raised behind the slack lids and his mouth falls limply open. Over the patient's white nightdress hangs a crumpled gray dressing gown. Only two bright notes are struck in this chilling canvas: the verdant tones of Garcia Arrieta's coat (appropriately, green is the traditional color attribute of Hope), and the contrasting red color of the blanket covering the legs of the dying and martyred painter. This symbolic mode of characterizing the quick and the dead is further reiterated by Goya's affecting treatment of the hands of the two protagonists in this grimly silent drama of the perennial struggle against illness and death: the doctor's hands are strong and protective whereas those of his nearly comatose patient are groping and uncertain.In contrast to the painterly handling of the protagonists, the frieze of huddled and grimacing creatures surrounding the headboard of the sickbed and enframing the expiring patient and his cup-bearing savior, are imprecisely painted in "unreal" phosphorescent earth colors and dark gray tones in a manner markedly different from the concrete treatment of the very "real" figures of Garcia Arrieta and Goya. These dreamlike spectres are, however stylistically as well as emotionally a close parallel to the obviously nightmarish and menacing figures that populate the visionary Pinturas Negras of the same period. Although the chronology of the frightening cycle of wall paintings from the Quinta de Sordo remains somewhat obscure, Fred Licht has argued convincingly that if the Self-Portrait precedes the Black Paintings, the latter may be viewed as resulting from Goya's experiences during his grave illness. The devils, he suggests, may represent the artist's attempt to clear his mind of his own deathbed nightmares.5Such stylistic and chronological considerations aside, in the general sense, the horrific imagery and vividly realized emotions of such a scene as that presented in Goya's last, and most frighteningly revealing, self-portrait must make one almost inevitably evoke the memory of numerous memento mori of the late Middle Ages. Goya's self-portrait in his sickbed calls to mind the medieval imagery of men dying, such as that fifteenth-century moriens vividly described by Georges Chastellain in his poem, Le Pas de la Mort ("The Steps toward Death"):Le face est tainte et apalie,
Et les yeux treilles en la teste
La parole luy est faillie,
Car la langue au palais se lie.
Le poulx tressault et sy halette.("The face is discolored and pale, and the eyes veiled in his head. Speech fails him, for the tongue is stuck to his palette. The pulse trembles and he pants.")Another such gruesomely detailed picture of the agony of a dying man was drawn by Francois Villon:La mort le fait fremir, pallir,
Le nex courber, les vaines tendre,
Le col enfler, la chair mollir,
Joinctes et nerfs coristre et estndre.("Death makes him shudder and turn pale; the nose curves under his veins and neck swell and his flesh softens. Joints and nerves expand and stretch slackly.)6The year before he painted this, the last and most provocative of his many self-portraits, Goya had also executed two major canvases with grandly religious themes: The Communion of San Jose de Calasanz and Christ on the Mount of Olives (1819) (figure 3). The unprecedented religious intensity conveyed in these works, completed before his seemingly miraculous recovery from imminent death, lead one to ascribe a specifically religious significance to the slightly later Self-Portrait with Dr. Arrieta.Licht has suggested that one must search in the realms of traditional, specifically Catholic, pictorial traditions in order to find an identifiable iconographic tradition to which Goya must have turned in order to invest his individual and harrowing life-threatening experience with primordial and truly universal significance.7 The Minneapolis self-portrait, Licht argues, is a clear "indication of Goya's attempt to translate religious traditions into the idiom of his own nihilistic times." As a result, "it is not altogether unjustifiable to think of the [demonic] visions in the Black Paintings as being visions of those paralyzing [and death dealing] forces which Dr. Arrieta rescued Goya."8 Given this clue, it can be demonstrated convincingly that Dr. Arrieta has been pictured by his grateful patient as a ministering and consoling, counseling and inspiring angel, specifically el Buen Angel Consejero e Inspirador who, according to tradition, ministers to the dying man in numerous renditions of the Ars Moriendi ("Art of Dying Well").9Although numerous editions of this popular text were published throughout Europe, the Ars Moriendi was especially well received in the intensely, spiritual climate of Catholic Spain, where it enjoyed undiminished popularity long after its initial appearance there in the last decade of the fifteenth-century. This devotional book served an essential purpose in assuaging those doubts that arose in the hearts of Christians following the breakdown of the sureties of the medieval system, and their replacement by the inquiring and scientific rationality which accompanied the spread of Renaissance ideas and concepts. In the popular mind, there was no doubt about the existence of an afterlife, but this belief was implicitly challenged by the worldly, empirical doubts of the nihilistic new age. As a result, the "outer life" had come to be gradually thought of as an extension of life on earth. Whereas Heaven was seen to offer a pleasurable prospect, the infernal regions—Hell—would be a mirror of the most horrible sufferings on earth, multiplied by the fevered imagination of the one who found himself at death's door. As the Church understood the dangers implicit in a profane notion of physical suffering at death, there came into being that small treatise on the "Art of Dying Well," vividly illustrated with ingenious woodcuts graphically describing the contents of each of the eleven chapters.10 The book presented the drama of death, with all its implications, dangers, and obligations, in terms readily understandable to even the most frightened and helpless believer. In the positive sense, its purpose was to enable one to recognize the dangers of one's last hours on earth so that the dying could face and overcome these temptations.Offering a thoroughly practical—and intensely pictorialized—approach to the problem of "dying well," there were formulated for the Ars Moriendia series of prayers and supplications dealing with the death-struggle (in Spanish, agonia; from the Greek agon, meaning "contest"), including a detailed description of the "Last Four Acts" (las cuatro postrimerias). Each chapter represents an argument set forth like a snare by the devil, and each of these is answered in the following chapter by a decisive reply from the heaven-sent protective angel; in order to counter the rhetorical traps set forth by his diabolic adversaries, the confused patient must be guided by external divine—concretely manifested by a divine emissary, the protective angel of good counsel. As in Goya's Self-Portrait with Dr. Arrieta, the drama always takes place in the dying man's bedroom and, moreover, according to the fixed pictorial formulas of the Ars Moriendi, demons and angels endlessly and rancorously dispute over the soul of the moribund man, inevitably depicted as lying powerless and supine in his rumpled sickbed and surrounded by the diabolic host. The final act in the drama is the representation of that "Good Death" (la buena muerte) which has in turn been based upon "Divine Resignation" (la resignaction divina) (figure 4). In our late fifteenth-century Spanish print we see the good angel reaching out solicitously to the dying man while frustrated devils, representing the diabolic host, scatter in fright at the foot of the patient's bed.Goya was certainly not the first artist of importance to be attracted to the popular but gruesome imagery of the Ars Moriendi. This honor appears to belong to the Netherlandish painter whose works were especially appreciated in Spain: Hieronymus Bosch (figure 5).11 As in Goya's Self-Portrait with Dr. Arrieta, Bosch's panel depicting the Death of the Miser (about 1490); National Gallery, Washington, D.C.) similarly shows a frightened man lying in his deathbed and beset by numerous scurrying devils while his guardian angel tenderly ministers to him during the prolonged horrors of his agonia.12 Nor does the Self-Portrait represent first appearance of Ars Moriendi iconography in Goya's oeuvre. A study of Goya's earlier use of such imagery makes clear the sources of one of the most characteristic, if hithertofore largely misunderstood, aspects of the Spanish artist's unique iconography: "Goya's devils."A troupe of devils first made their evil presence known in Goya's oeuvre in a large canvas of 1788, San Francisco de Borja Exorcising a Demonized Dying Man (Valencia, Cathedral) (figure 6).13 Here, for the first time in his mature work, we see "Goya's devils" face to face, and in all their demonic effectiveness; peering from a dark background, they eagerly bend over, and literally haunt, a fear-stricken dying man sprawled upon his rumpled deathbed. At the foot of the bed, Borja, taking on the traditional role of the Buen Angel Consejero e Inspirador, earnestly entreats the moribund sinner to repent, and to this end he presents him with a vision of the crucified Christ which he holds in his left hand. A jet of blood sprays from the right hand of Christ and bathes the fevered body and face of the agonized dying man. Neither the motif of the blood-spurting crucifix nor, for that matter, the final solution to the overall composition of the canvas were fixed in Goya's mind at the outset of this, his earliest known venture into the iconography of the Ars Moriendi (figure 7). In fact, Goya's first ideas for this commission are documented in a black chalk drawing (Madrid, Museo del Prado). An inscription identifies the study as his first step in the development of his evolving pictorial idea for the dramatic exorcism of a "condemned" person—El Condenado-Primer pensamiento de Goya para el cuadro de la Cathedral de Valencia.14 At the outset Goya had decided to place the Valencian saint in the center of the composition; even more significant, however, was his inclusion of devils (identified by tiny horns) who flee out of the picture to the right, while a clump of angels fly in a cloudlike formation around the head of the moriens prostrated in the far left corner. The parallel placement of the gleaming bed, with the patient's head on the far left, was maintained throughout.For this monumentally-scaled painting in Valencia (one of his first really important commissions), Goya probably made reference to two different graphic prototypes, although both of there are easily identifiable within an Ars Moriendi context. In the first place, the symbolic motif of the jet of blood spurting from the healing crucifix bears a recognizable thematic resemblance to an engraving entitled Sangue di Cristo which had been designed by the great Baroque artist Gian Lorenzo Bernini in 1670 (figure 8). Bernini's richly textured print shows the crucified Christ suspended above a sea formed by his precious life's blood. From his right hand, blood streams onto the fevered brow of the Virgin. The composition probably refers to Hebrews 9:14: "the blood of Christ, who through the external Spirit offered himself without spot to God, [shall] purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God." The sacrificial Christ is here shown as a divine intercessor placed between the moriens and eternal damnation: in this case, the sole remedy for the sinner's ills is represented by the precious blood of Christ.15 In this light, it is indeed interesting to note that the feverish glance of the dying man in Goya's exorcism scene of 1788 is directly drawn to the radiant crucifix held aloft by the saint, a motif that bears a striking resemblance to the miraculous and glowing apparition in Bernini's much earlier print.Nevertheless, this is certainly not the print source that determined the overall compositional format of Goya's initial drawing for El Condenado. Instead Goya's primary graphic prototype was probably one of the sumptuously rendered copperplate engravings designed by Romeyn de Hooghe that illustrated a seventeenth-century devotional treatise composed by Father David de la Vigne, called The Mirror of Dying Well (figure 9).16 This splendidly illustrated manual is but one example of a type Otto Benesch described as a "Baroque revival of the Late Gothic Ars Moriendi." Such perennially popular imagery, according to Benesch, "aims to show in pictures to a sick man, who is no longer able to read, what he must ponder during his illness in order that he may die happily. . . The devil [and his demonic entourage], recalling the dying man's sins, [attempt] to drive him to despair. Yet a guardian angel, who shows the biblical picture [of the jets of Christ's healing blood], helps the dying man." Moreover, as is typical of all such postmedieval graphic imagery, "the gloom of the death-chamber, in which candlelight flickers over the sleeping night-watchers, is contrasted with the unearthly light of the vision of the dying man."17In an even more specific manner, numerous pictorial similarities are found existing between de Hooghe's print of 1673 and Goya's first idea, El Condenado, later worked up into the large canvas depicting the dramatic exorcism wrought by Francisco de Borja. These parallels emphatically point to the illustration of "The Hour of Death" found in the Miroir de la Bonne Mort as the iconographic fons et origo of Goya's first known venture into demonic imagery in 1788. As one might expect, however, Goya's preparatory drawing is in many ways closer to his borrowed print source.18 In the primer pensamiento, therefore, Borja occupies the place originally taken in the print by the winged guardian angel. Although the cloud of angels were moved by Goya from the right of the print to the left side of the sketch, the devils in the right center were kept more or less where de Hooghe had originally put them. In the massive painting that followed, however, Goya retained intact only the primary motif of the brightly lit bed of the moriens placed parallel to the picture plane, just as in the print of The Hour of Death. In the painting that concludes the series Borja, with both arms uplifted (thus following the silhouette of the guardian angel in the print) and wearing the habit of a Jesuit priest, holds the blood-spurting crucifix aloft. The motif of the crucifix appears to have been copied in turn from the titled painting being carried aloft by the angels (the circular frame of this painting had, however, been retained by Goya in the form of the round window behind the curtain). Curiously, Goya then placed a group of grimacing devils looming over the head of the moriens at the spot where the Flemish printmaker had earlier placed a monk. For the sake of pictorial clarity, Goya had also removed all traces of the excessively baroque and "unreal" airborne angels as well as the prostrated figures seen on the floor in the foreground of the seventeenth-century Ars moriendi print. In any event, this sequence of print to sketch to final painting provides us with a unique demonstration of the workings of Goya's inventive mind when he was faced with the not uncommon problem of translating a graphic prototype into the language of painterly expression.Given the straightforward identification of the primary subject-matter of Goya's depiction of Borja and the dying sinner, mention should be made here of the archetypal (but anonymously authored and evidently written by a Jesuit priest) Spanish manual for exorcists (Tratado de exorcismos muy util para sacredotes y minostros de la Iglesia, about 1720), which describes the different names, wiles, and disguises of the devil and his malignant army. This textual source provides an essential key to a comprehensive reading of Goya's interpretation of the meaning of El Condenado:The exorcist will try to learn the way in which the demons entered, because usually, before entering the body of any man, they appear to him in horrible and frightening form, at night, and in dark, obscure places. Sometimes, they scare him with a horrible nightmare (pesadilla), and mistreat the body mercilessly when they enter in the form of wind, rats, or other small animals. At other times they seem to pour a glass of very cold water down his back, and ants seem to crawl over the whole body. The exorcist should not believe all these things too easily without first comparing them with the Holy Scripture and serious writers, as has already been said, especially those who describe more particularly the entry and presence of the Devil. After ascertaining that the symptoms are conclusive, he will compel the Devil by exorcism to declare himself, and then he will be able to expel him. (. . . ) Sometimes the demon is called Belial, which means absque iugo, without yoke, or without Lord and Master, because all his desires and wishes are directed to being free, and not being subject to his creator. At other times, it is Beelzebub, which means vir muscarum, that is, lord of the flies, or souls who sinned and abandoned their creator. Sometimes, it is Satan, that is, adversary; because he always is against our health and well-being. At other times, it Behemoth, which means Beast, because he makes men seem like beasts; or Asmodeus, demon of fornication, and appropriately it means factura juditii, because for a similar sin the dreadful judgment was made on Sodom and the rest of the wicked cities. Sometimes, it is Leviathan, demon of pride, because he tempted our forefathers with pride, and appropriately it means additamentum, because he promised them the added gift of divinity. At other times, it is Mammon, which is the demon of avarice. . . The name Demon means: sanguinis sitiens, because he thirsts for, and tries so eagerly for sins. The name Diabolus, Devil is derived from Dia, quod est duo, and bolus, mouthful, because he eats bits of the man, body and soul. It also means informer, slanderer, and mischief-maker, because he is a helper and accuser of our sins.Sometimes, when demons leave the bodies of the possessed, they are in the habit of showing themselves, appearing in the frightening shape of various animals and other terrible things, although they might not be seen by the bystanders. This is very simple, because these apparitions can be just imaginary, in order for the Devil to stir the blood and temper of the victim, and to form some image which represents him. This vision, because it is imaginary, only appears to the one who inflicts the vision of himself, as is inferred in the writing of the prophets [figure 2]. . . In this manner, the Devil or a Good Angel can appear to one or to many, whether it be close by or from far away. . . The curious will be satisfied with this information, and the ignorant will be informed of the tricks the Devil has devised in order to fool us.Before the Devil leaves, the exorcist ought to order him to go directly to the place that God has designated for him as his Hell, because, if he fails to attend to this matter right away, the demons often stay in the clothes or hair of the victim. But what if someone should ask in what shape or way does the Devil go out of the bodies of the possessed. I say that it can be in many ways, as experience has shown. Sometimes, he leaves through the mouth in the form of a blazing flame. Other times, it is in the form of wind, bees, or ants. Sometimes, it is through the ears, and the victims feel them leave the heart, stomach and other parts, [or] Etiam per secessam in the shape of a ball. Other times, it is through the nostrils, in the form of drops of blood, and in other ways that the careful exorcist will recognize in due time. But he will not believe them easily, without first trying exorcism and the other remedies of the Church.19Although the devils in Goya's exorcism scene of 1788 were modest in appearance and functioned only as thoroughly conventional symbols of evil, nevertheless these demonios were used to the same ends as those in the much later Self-Portrait with Dr. Arrieta. In both cases (examples separated by some thirty-two years of artistic growth) Goya's devils represent the temptations of evil itself; they are the grisly apparitions that will appear in the hour of death. We have seen that these diabolic temptations must be exorcised or thwarted—and the only way that they can be successfully thwarted is by the intercession of a person of this world who will volunteer to serve as a solicitous and devote spiritual guide. In the 1788 painting this figure was Francisco de Borja, and the 1820 work he was Eugeno Garcia Arrieta. The differences between the exorcism scene of 1788 and the self-portrait of 1820 mainly lie in degrees of ability in the handling of painterly technique and of emotional resonances; the general intention remains constant, and its particular focus is—rather than Goya's devils—that "real" man who voluntarily takes on the emotionally demanding role of the "unreal" guardian angel.The final chapter of an early edition of the Ars Moriendi contains a description of the exact role which had been imagined by the grateful Goya for his savior and friend, Dr. Eugenio Garcia Arrieta, and it is in that role which we see him in the magnificent canvas in The Minneapolis Institute of Arts. The text warns that the dying must seek out and find a guide and a protector for those dreadful moments which he believes to represent his last, obviously terrifying, hours on this earth:We must point out that, as the salvation of me is to be found at the very end of their lives; everyone must, with the greatest of care, provide for themselves some friend or companion who is so sufficiently devout and loyal that he will always be found present in one's last moments. In order that the sick man may be counseled and comforted with constancy in faith, someone must be found to incite the sick man, moving him to have patience and devotion, and confidence, charity and perseverance in all good works. This is the one Arrieta who will lend to the patient strength, and who will give him courage in the struggle and in the final battle. . . But, ay de nosotros, how said is for us that so few can be found who would be so true to their brother, speaking for them, advising them, and making prayers and orations for them.20It was the exorcism scenes of 1788, then, that Goya had depicted supernatural monsters for the first time (figures 6, 7). Following this rather conventional beginning, such otherworldly beings were to become an important and distinctive element of Goya's iconographic repertoire. The visual evidence we have examined has documented the fact that Goya's demonic imagery had its initial source in the popular visual traditions of the Ars Moriendi. This vivid material, furthermore, exerted such a persistent fascination upon the Spanish artist that Goya was to revert to it over thirty years later in his last and most affecting self-portrait, that with Dr. Arrieta of 1820. A detailed examination of the text and prints that accompanied two of the many editions of the Ars Moriendi provided yet further evidence attesting to the fact that Goya was as aware of the literary content and the ideological intent of this widely-read manual as he was familiar with its wide range of pictorial variations within the established canons of setting and essential characters. Not only does the revelation of the original sources of the Self-Portrait with Dr. Arrieta permit a wholly new understanding of this unique painting, but it also affords us a new and wider-ranging interpretive perspective upon the meanings of the important subject of Goya's devils in general. Nevertheless, it must also be admitted, on the one hand, that this newly revealed Ars Moriendi content is not strictly applicable to the revelations of other-worldly meanings in numerous other works by Goya, especially in his cycle of prints, in which demonic imagery was employed by the artist to serve other, perhaps purely secular, purposes. On the other hand, as a rule, Goya's secularized demonic imagery is now known to deal specifically with the iconography and lore of witchcraft, la brujeria. The sources and meanings of some of these other, strictly secularized, counterparts to the Ars Moriendi-derived demonic imagery of the later Self-Portrait with Dr. Arrieta have, however, been already recognized by such notable students of Goya as Folke Nordström and Edith Helman.21 To their important findings, we many now add a new, connective, interpretation of Goya's demonic imagery.There is a clear link between both the secular demonic imagery, dealing with the lore and traditions of la brujeria, and the specifically Ars Moriendi, or religious, demonic imagery of Goya. The connection between these two equally important—and indeed quite complementary—categories of Goya's distinctive iconographic repertoire is to be found in the interests of a family well placed in the highest ranks of the Spanish nobility, the Duques de Osuna. This family proved to be among the artist's most faithful and inspired patrons;22 Goya first had professional contact with the famous Duke and Duchess of Osuna in 1785. Two or three years later they commissioned from the artist two large paintings for the Capilla de San Francisco de Borja in the Cathedral of Valencia; one of these canvases depicted "the Departure of St. Francis of Borgia from Valencia," and the other was the exorcism scenic discussed above in some detail (figures 6, 7). The motivation behind this subject matter is clear: San Francisco de Borja (1510-1572), the third General of the Jesuit Order, was one of the Condesa-Duquesa de Osuna's most illustrious ancestors; as Duquesa de Gandia, she was in fact the patroness of the chapel in the Cathedral of Valencia dedicated to the memory of her illustrious Jesuit ancestor. Moreover, as Nordström states, "the subjects of Goya's two paintings [were] no doubt given to him by the Countess herself," and, furthermore, "here for the very first time Goya painted preternatural, devilish monsters. . . this [is] the first attempt, made several years before his grave illness in 1792-3."23 And, as we have already seen one of these paintings, the exorcism scene, had been derived from an identifiable Ars Moriendi scene of The Hour of Death.Ten years later, in 1798 or slightly earlier, Goya received yet another important commission from the Duke and Duchess, encouraging him to paint for them those six pictures of witchcraft—asuntos de Brujos—which were to hang in their country estate, the Palacio de le Alameda, situated near Madrid. This is made quite clear in the receipt for the paintings, dated 24 June 1798, which states that Goya was indeed paid for this, and that the purpose of this document was "para abonar a d. Fco de Goya seis mil reales, importe de seis cuadros cuya composicion es de asuntos de Brujos que ha hecho para mi casa de campo de la Alameda."24 Moreover, the subject matter of at least two of these asuntos de Brujos has now been convincingly identified as deriving from popular plays by a seventeenth-century Spanish dramatist, Antonio de Zamora.25 It is further likely that, as Nordström suggested, the other, as-yet unidentified, subjects were similarly derived from a contemporary text on sorcery, in which there was great popular interest at that time in Spain.26 It should also be mentioned that, directly following this commission for these asuntos de Brujos, Goya published his demon-ridden Caprichos (figure 2). In any event, the evidence here presented shows that Goya's earliest essays into the fearsome realms of demonic imagery, whether secular or religious in intention, certainly did derive from identifiable sources and that, moreover, both of these distinctive and persistent categories of his demonic imagery had clearly originated in commissions known to have been ordered by the Duques de Osuna.Our present knowledge of the published, and thus scarcely esoteric, origins of Goya's very distinctive and most characteristic types demonic imagery in no way diminishes our immense respect for the powers of this artist's imagination. Now that the nature these original sources is better understood, especially within their specifically Spanish cultural context, we are in position to gauge more accurately Goya's artistic genius, particularly as this has been revealed in his creative transformations of diverse kinds of source materials, whether pictorial or textual.27 The Minneapolis Self-Portrait with Dr. Arrieta has proved to be the figurative key by which we have unlocked the persistent mystery of the origin and original purposes of that most distinctive feature of the great Spanish artist's oeuvre: Goya's devils.John F. Moffit received his doctoral degree from the University of Madrid in 1966. An exhibited painter, he has published widely in scholarly journals in this country and in Europe. He is presently associate professor of the history of art at New Mexico State autor agradecido, a su amigo, Fred S. Licth.Endnotes
  1. Minneapolis Institute of Arts; accession no 52.14: 45 inches X 31 1/8 inches (115.57 X 79.05 cm). Now in excellent condition, it was cleaned and relined in 1957. This painting is catalogued by Pierre Gassier and Juliet Wilson in the standard modern monograph on Goya, The Life and Complete Work of Francisco Goya (New York, 1971), Part IV, cat. 1629, and discussed on page 305 as an example of Goya's "religious painting [which] forms an important part of Goya's oeuvre," in a period "of his life richer in religious works than others," in which Goya "went beyond the traditions and conventions appropriate to this kind of painting." Also catalogued by Jose Gudiol, Goya 1746-1828: Biography; Analytical Study and Catalogue of his Paintings (Barcelona, 1971), p. 194, and cat. no. 697. This article is a thoroughly revised version of an earlier publication written in Spanish: "Goya los demonios: El autorretrato con el doctor Arrieta y la tradiccion del 'Ars oriendi,'" Goya: Revista de Arte, no. 163, July-August 1981, pp. 12-23.The Minneapolis painting first belonged to the same Dr. Eugenio Garcia Arrieta who is pictured here. Afterwards it successively passed to the collections of J. J. Martinez Espinosa (Madrid); M. A. de Ajuna Temple (Paris); Dr. Edwards-Lucas Moreno (Paris); Seligman (New York): M. Knoedler and Co. (New York). It was acquired by The Minneapolis Institute of Arts in 1952 (Ethel Morrison Van Derlip Fund, 52.14). Two copies by Goya's pupil, Ascensio Julia, exist; one in the collection of Mme. Galardi de Quintano, Irun, Spain, the other belongs to Don Moret y Ramisa, Madrid. The first published mention of this painting seems to have been made by Valentin Calderera, in El Artista (Madrid), 1835. Some thirty-two years later it was referred to in connection with an exhibition at the Academia de San Fernando de Bellas Artes in Madrid (Los Sucesos, Madrid, 23 May 1867). The date of the painting was then incorrectly given as "1823" by C. Yriarte, Goya (Paris, 1867), p. 138, and, likewise ("ano de 1823"), by the Conde de la Vinaza, Goya, su Vida, sus Obras (Madrid, 1887), p. 25, no. 68. Again, some twenty-eight years after the first Madrid exhibition (and Yriarte's error), its date was still given as "1823" by Z. A. Sanchez, Goya (Madrid, 1895), no. 241, p. 117. In the twentieth century, however, the critics appear now to be actually looking at the work in question, and so an agreement has been reached that it was indeed painted in 1820, just as its inscription so clearly states! For other published references to this self-portrait, see also: F. LaFond, Goya (Paris 1902), p. 12, no. 125; V. von Loga, Francisco de Goya (Berlin, 1921), no. 247, p. 197; A. F. Calvert, Goya, An Account of His Life and Works (London, 1980), no. 150, p. 135; H. Stokes, Francisco Goya, A Study of the Work and Personality of the Eighteenth Century Spanish Painter and Satirist (New York, 1914), no. 119, p. 332; A. de Bereute y Moret, Goya as Portrait Painter (London, 1922), no. 279, pp. 172-3. 215; A. L. Mayer, Francisco de Goya (Munich, 1923), no. 305, pp. 156, 170; F. J. Sanchez Canton, Goya (Paris, 1921), p. 75; C. Poore, Goya (New York, 1939), pp. 133, 228; X. Desparmet-Fitzgerald, l'Oeuvre peint de Goya (Paris, 1928-50), no. 270, p. 291; J. Lassaigne, Goya (New York, 1948), p. 15; F. J. Sanchez Canton, Vida Obras de Goya (Madrid, 1951), pp. 119-20; (no author), "A Late Masterpiece by Fancisco Goya Added to the Institute of Arts Bulletin 42 (June 1953): 110-16; P. Gassier, Goya (Bern, 1955), p. 112 (where it is noted as having disappeared!); J. A. Gayo Nuno, La Pintura Espanola fuera de Espana (Madrid, 1958), no. 114, p. 180; E. du Gue Trapier, Goya and his Sitters (New York, 1964), no. 82, pp. 42-43, 57; F. J. Sanchez Canton, Goya (New York, 1964), pp. 24, 51, 62; E. Harris, Goya (London, 1969), pp. 19, 25 (and so forth).
  2. Two recent attempts have been made by Spanish scholars to reveal a coherent inconographic program which might connect the bizarre and rather varied imagery of the twelve, quite different, Black Paintings: S. Sebastian, "Interpretacion iconologica de las Pinturas Negras de Goya," Goya: Revista de Arte, nos. 148-50 (Jan.-June 1979), pp. 268-77; J. M. B. Lopez Vazquez, El Programa Neoplatonico de las pinturas de la Quinta del Sordo (Santiago de Compostela, 1981). Many of the problems which cloud such interpretations are due to the ambiguity concerning the original ordering, or sequence of the cycle; until this order is firmly established, such ambitious interpretive investigations shall rest upon shifting sands.
  3. F. S. Licht, Goya: The Origins of the Modern Temper in Art (New York, 1979), p. 162.
  4. For the wide diversity of speculative interpretations dealing with Goya's imagery and his elusive personality, see Nigel Glendinning's superb study Goya and his Critics (New Haven, 1977), who has said (and this observation certainly pertains to the "proto-Surrealistic" aspect of Goya's self-portrait of 1820): "Few painters seem to have remained so constantly relevant. A model Romantic for the Romantics; an Impressionist for the Impressionists; Goya later became an Expressionist for the Expressionists, and a forerunner of Surrealism for the Surrealists. Artists have constantly found Goya a kindred spirit. . . To the politically involved Goya has seemed to offer [even] political commitment" (pp. 21-22).
  5. Licht, Goya: Origins of the Modern Temper, pp. 162-3.
  6. Chastellian and Villon, as quoted by J. Huizinga, The Warning of the Middle Ages: A study of the Forms of Life, Thought and Art in France and the Netherlands in the XIVth and XV Centuries, Garden City, 1954, pp. 147-8.
  7. F. S. Licth, Goya in Perspective (Englewood Cliffs, N.J., 1973), p. 21. A parallel (and nearly contemporary) example of the imposition of a primordial theme upon a recently deceased person would be, of course, represented by J. L. David's 1793 painting The Death of Marat which is a "secularized-Pieta" motif, clearly based, moreover, on Michelangelo's marble group (1497-1500) in St. Peter's (a fact recognized by K. Lankheit, Jacques-Louis David: Der Tod Marats [Werkmonographien zur bildenden Kunst no. 74], Stuttgart, 1962). Such are examples of what Jan Bialostocki has called Rahmenthemen ("Encompassing Themes"); see his Stil und Ikonographie: Studien zur Kunstwissenschaft (Dresden, 1966), part 2, p. 111 ff.
  8. Licht, Goya: Origins of the Modern Temper, p. 163.
  9. On the Ars Moriendi theme in general, see among others: M. C. O'Connor, The Art of Dying Well: The Development of the Ars Moriendi (New York, 1942); N. Lee Beatty, The Craft of Dying: The Literary Tradition of Ars Moriendi in England (New Haven, 1970) (with excellent bibliography); J. Saugnieux, Les Danses macabres de France et d'Espagne et leurs prolongements litteraires (Paris, 1972). For the development of the Ars Moriendi in Spain, see: C. cantarellas, "La version espanola del 'Ars Moriendi,'" Traza Y Baza: Cuadernos Hispanicos de Simbologia, Arte y Literatura 2 (1973), pp. 97-105; R. Romano and A. Tenenti, "El Arte de ben Morir," Los fundamentos del mundo moderno: Edad Media tardia, Renacimiento, Reforma (Madrid, 1971); A Fabrega Grau, "Textos catalans de l'art de ben morir," Analecta Sacra Tarraconsensis 27 (1968): 79-104; S. Sebastian Lopez, Mensaje del Arte Medieval (Cordoba, 1978), p. 172 ff. The Spanish edition of the Ars Moriendi with which I am most familiar is that by Francesch Ximenez, Art de ben morir ab lo breu Confessionari (Zaragoza, 1493; facsimile edition: ed. P. Bohigas, Ediciones Torculum, Barcelona, 1951). Xinenez may have been the translator of the Ars Moriendi; he was certainly the author of the "Brief Confessionary" that accompanies the Catalan translation. The Art de ben morir has neither folio numbers, nor is it paginated.
  10. In my article of 1981 (cited in note 1), I have reproduced the entire set of eleven woodcuts which illustrated the first Spanish edition of the Ars Moriendi (Art de ben morir. . ., 1493).
  11. Bosch's works early received great praise from the Spaniards; see, for example, Felipe de Guevara, Commentarios de la Pintura (about 1560), and Fray Jose de Siguenza, Historia de la Orden de San Jeronimo (1605); their appreciative comments are reprinted in F. J. Sanchez-Canton, Fuentes literarias para la historia del arte espanol (Madrid, 1923), vol. I, pp. 159 ff.; 425 ff.
  12. For this painting and its models in the Ars Moriendi, see W. S. Gibson, Hieronymus Bosch (New York, 1973), pp. 46-7.
  13. Gassier and Wilson, Life and Work of Goya, I, cat. no. 243.
  14. Ibid., I, no. 245. In effect, Goya's first idea, as documented by this black chalk drawing, was a very close copy of a painting of the preceding year, The Death of St. Joseph, commissioned for the Convent of Santa Ana in Valladolid (Gassier and Wilson, I, no. 236); however the preceding sketch for the Transito de San Jose, an emphatically diagonal composition (ibid., no. 237), was evidently based on an altar-piece by Crespi which Goya may have known from an engraving, as the composition had been reversed (F. J. Sanchez Canton, "Goya, Pintor religioso," Revista de Ideas Esteticas 4 [1946]: 277-306). For a comparative examination of the Death of St. Joseph and the Valencian "Exorcism Scene" see Gudiol, Goya (1971), vol. I, pp. 75-77, noting that the latter "introduces for the first time those heads of beasts and demons that are to constitute one of his specialties and to crowd the production of his maturity, both paintings and engravings, culminating in the famous paintings of the Quinta del Sordo." In any event, the fact of Goya's reliance upon prints, especially for commissions involving religious themes, is well known and documented. According to Gassier, "Goya himself described four years [1760-63] in Jose Luzan's studio, where he was taught the principles of drawing by being made to copy from prints. . . Goya was to remember this particular lesson throughout his life; almost all the later religious paintings are based on prints." (Life and Work of Goya, pp. 34-5).
  15. The plate was executed by F. Spierre. For further details on this print, see I. Lavin, "Bernini's Death (The Ars Moriendi and the Sangue di Cristo)," Art Bulletin 54 (June 1972), pp. 158-86.
  16. Published in 1673 in Antwerp in French and Flemish editions: Miroir de la Bonne Mort tiree de la Passion, et de la Mort de Notre Saveur; and Spiegel van een salighe Doodt.
  17. O. Benesch, Artistic and Intellectual Trends from Rubens to Daumier as Shown in Book Illustrations (New York, 1969), pp. 48-9.
  18. There is, however, another intermediary stage in the working up of Goya's exorcism scene; this is a small (38 X 29 cm.) painted sketch, or "boceto," which need not be further discussed here as it was nearly exactly repeated in the larger, final version (Gassier and Wilson, Life and Work of Goya, I, no. 244: Madrid, Marquesa de Santa Cruz coll.; this was also illustrated in my article cited in note 1).
  19. A Manual of Exorcism, very Useful for Priests and Ministers of the Church (New York: Hispanic Society of America, 1975), pp. 30, 39-40, 58-59, 69-70 (evidently the primary source for this manuscript was a previously published exorcist's manual: Benito Remigio Noydens, Practica de exorcistas y ministros de la Iglesia, Madrid, 1711).
  20. The emphasis is mine in the translation. This passage is worth quoting in full in the eloquent Castilian version which is appended to Catalan text of the Bohigas edition of the Art de ben morir: "Debemos senalar que, puesto que la salvacion del hombre se halla en el fin de su vida, todos deben con gran diligencia proveerse de algun amigo o companero sufficientemente devoto y leal, que se encuentre presente en su ultimo trance y muerte, para que le aconseje y conforte con la constancia de la fe, y le incite y mueva a tener paciencia y devocion, confianz, caridad y perseverancia en todas las buenas obras, prestandole esfuerzo e animandole en la agonia y batalla final, diciendole ademas algunas devotas oraciones. Mas !ay de nosotros, que pocos se encuentran que sean leales con sus projimos, hablandoles, amonestandoles y haciendo oraciones y plegaria por ellos!"
  21. See, particulary, F. Nordström, Goya, Saturn and Melancholy (Stockholm, 1962), pp. 153-177: "Six Paintings of Witchcraft;" and E. Helman, "Moratín Hijoy Goya: Sobre Duendes y Brujos," in Joevellanos y Goya (Madrid, 1970), pp. 157-181.
  22. This relationship between the Osunas and Goya was commented upon by the artist's first major biographer, Charles Yriarte, Goya, Sa Giographie, les fresques, les toiles, les tapisseries, les eaux-fortes et le catalogue de l'oeuvre (Paris, 1867), pp. 83-86. Later studies specifically dealing with the Goya-Osuna relationship included F. Nordström, "Goya och hertigparet av Osuna," Spanska mastere (Stockholm, 1960), pp. 157-69; with references taken from J. Ezquerra del Bayo, Restratos de la familia Tellez-Giron, novenos duques de Osuna (Madrid, 1934); see also F. duGue Trapier, Goya and his Sitters, pp. 4, 16-19, 30, 41. There are two portraits of the Duques de Osuna by Goya, dating from 1785 (collections of B. March, Palma de Mallorca; and Mark Oliver, Jedburgh, U.K.); and a family portrait Goya of the Osunas is dated 1789 (Prado, no. 793); and there are two later portraits of the Duke of Osuna (Museo Lazaro Galdiano, Madrid; and the Frick Collection, New York).
  23. Nordström, Goya, Saturn and Melancholy, pp. 59, 66. This earlier illness was the cause of his well-known deafness.
  24. The text of the receipt is quoted in V. von Loga, Francisco de Goya (Berlin, 1921), p. 164, note 183.
  25. Nordström, Goya, Saturn and Melancholy, p. 153 ff., names the two plays by Zamora from which Goya derived his imagery: El Hechizado por la fuerza (1698), and No hay plazo que no cumple ni deuda que no se pague (also known as: El Convidado de piedra). Helman, "Moratin Hijo y Goya," p. 162, has also cited the importance of a study by Goya's friend, Leandro Fernandez Moratin; his commentaries on the Auto de fe celebrado en la ciudad de logrono en los dias 6 y 7 de noviembre de 1610 evidently provided the painter with much valuable documentary materials on la brujeria. Moratin is likely to have begun his research on witchcraft in 1797, and his description of the early seventeenth-century auto da fe contains much detailed description relevant to Goya's demonic imagery of the strictly secular sort, and it seems particularly pertinent to the painting called the Aquelarre, (Madrid, Museo Lazaro Galdiana) which figured among the six Osuna Asuntos de Brujos.
  26. Nordström, Goya, Saturn and Melancholy, pp. 170-1.
  27. Many recent studies on Goya's art have dealt with the intriguing problem of his pictorial borrowings or, in some cases, actual textual sources. These are now understood to embrace a wide variety of materials, including popular prints and broadsides, as well as emblem books and allegorical or mythological texts; among these studies there may be mentioned one of mine (listing the pertinent works that preceded the publication of this article): "Francisco Goya, Antonia Palomino, caractere, and the State-Portrait of Count-Floridablanca," Konsthistorisk Tidskrift 50 (Winter 1981): 119-135. For a comprehensive discussion of such recent research, see Glehndinning, Goya and his Critics, p. 198 ff. Of special importance was pioneering article by E. H. Gombrich, "Imagery and Art in the Romantic Period," The Burlington Magazine 91 (1949); 153-8, which emphatically drew our attention to Goya's frequent reliance upon "a preexisting stock of acquired images."
Referenced Works of Art
  1. Francisco Jose de Goya y Lucientes, Spanish, 1746-1828, Self-Portrait with Dr. Arrieta, 1820, Oil on canvas, 45 inches X 31 1/8 inches, The Ethel Morrison Van Derlip Fund, 52.14.
  2. Francisco Goya, "El sueno de la razon produce monstros," plate 43 of the Capricios, 1799, Etching.
  3. Francisco Goya, Christ on the Mount of Olives, 1819, Oil on canvas, Madrid, Escuelas Pias.
  4. "La buena muerte del cristiano," from F. Ximenez, Art de ben morir ab lo breu Confessionari, Zaragoza, about 1493, Woodcut.
  5. Hieronymus Bosch, Dutch, about 1450-1516, The Death of the Miser (The Hour of Death with the Guardian Angel), about 1490, Oil on panel, Washington, D.C., National Gallery of Art.
  6. Francisco Goya, San Francisco de Borja Exorcising a Demonized Dying Man, 1788, Oil on canvas, Valencia, Cathedral.
  7. Francisco Goya, El Condenado, 1788, Black chalk on paper, Madrid, Museo del Prado.
  8. Gian Lorenzo Bernini, Italian, 1598-1680, Sangue de Cristo, 1670, Frontispiece to F. Marchses, Unica speranze del peccatore, Engraving.
  9. Romeyn de Hooghe, Dutch, 1645-1708, The Hour of the Death of the Moriens, 1673, From Pere David de la Vigne, Miroir de la Bonne Mort. . ., Engraving.
Comments (0)
Tags (0)
Source: John F. Moffitt, "Observations on the Origins and Meanings of Goya with the Devils in the 1820 Self-Portrait with Dr. Arrieta," <i>The Minneapolis Institute of Arts Bulletin</i> 65 (1981-1982): 36-49.
Rights: ©MIA
Added to Site: March 10, 2009