Francisco de Goya

Two Old Men Eating (Dos viejos comiendo)

Two Old Men Eating (Dos viejos comiendo)
Datos Generales
Ca. 1820 - 1823
The Prado National Museum. Madrid, Madrid, Spain
49.3 x 83.4 cm
Técnica y soporte
Oil painting on plaster transferred to canvas
Reconocimiento de la autoría de Goya
Undisputed work
El Prado National Museum
Ficha: realización/revisión
26 Oct 2010 / 25 Aug 2022

See Leocadia.

Análisis artístico

There is some controversy over the location of this painting in the house known as the Quinta del Sordo. While some authors - such as Sánchez Cantón or Muller - claim that it was located on the first floor, the majority of historians believe that it was situated on the lower floor, although there is no consensus as to its exact position in the room.

Its size and shape (it is smaller than the other paintings in the series) indicate that it was intended to be an overdoor painting for the entrance, but it is unknown if it was located outside or inside the room. According to Nordström, this work would have served as an introduction to the group, and since Yriarte points out that since there were only six paintings on the ground floor, this one must have been located outside of the room. On the other hand, Gassier and Wilson situate the painting inside the room based on Brugada's inventory.

The scene shows two old men eating soup. Only one of them is shown with a spoon in his hand in the act of eating. This character has a strange aspect, and it is unclear whether the figure is male or female. The other has a skeletal look, as if representing death itself. The old man or woman is gazing to one side and pointing in the same direction, although the reason for the gesture is not apparent to the viewer. Meanwhile, the other figure, which is holding some papers ¬- perhaps a list ¬- in their hands, whispers to the old man.

This painting has provoked various interpretations. Nordström suggests that the figure on the right represents Death, carrying the list of souls he will take with him to the afterlife. He also links the work to Saturn Devouring One of His Children, since Saturn is associated with old age and death. A wide range of opinions exist on this painting, from its associations with the Spanish picaresque to its links to the sin of gluttony.

The identification of the gender of the figures has also been a problem, since Brugada and Yriarte both believe them to be female. This confusion may also have been caused by the restoration work carried out by Martínez Cubells, since the most recent x-rays carried out seem to show that the restorer made some changes to the expression of the character on the left and painted in the hood he is wearing, although Muller claims that in the copy Eduardo Gimeno made of the work in 1869 the hood already existed.

It is a very simple, stark composition: almost a rough sketch. The painting was created with a few brushstrokes on a black ground, leaving the eyes, mouth and dark areas unpainted. It is a highly textured painting, and this intensifies its expressionist style.


Apart from the restoration work carried out by Martínez Cubells in 1973, the painting has been restored three times by the Prado Museum. In 1919 the paint was sealed. The painting was restored twice more: in 1968 by Cristóbal González and in 1987 by Rocío Dávila.

  • Pinturas Negras en la Exposición Universal de París
    Palacio del Trocadero
    from may 20th to November 10th 1878
  • Goya in the Prado
    The National Gallery of Art
    from May 6th to 31st 1976
  • Goya. 250 Aniversario
    Museo Nacional del Prado
    consultant editor Juan J. Luna. From March 29th to June 2nd 1996
  • Expérience Goya
  • YRIARTE, Charles
    Goya, sa vie, son œuvre
    ParísHenri Plon
    pp. 140
  • FUSTER, Antonio F.
    Goya. Las Pinturas Negras
    MadridGoya Hispano-Inglesa de Reaseguros, D.L.
    pp. 127-128
  • BERUETE Y MORET, Aureliano
    Goya. Composiciones y figuras, t.II
  • GASSIER, Pierre y WILSON, Juliet
    Vie et ouvre de Francisco de Goya
    ParísOffice du livre
    p. 328, cat. 1627a
  • vol. I, p. 379, cat. 707
  • Xavier Salas
    BarcelonaCarroggio S.A. de Ediciones
    p. 201, cat. 591
  • MULLER, Priscilla
    Goya's Black Paintings: Truth and Reason in Light and Liberty
    New YorkHispanic Society of America
    pp. 82-88
  • NORDSTRÖM, Folke
    Goya, Saturno y melancolía. Consideraciones sobre el arte de Goya
    MadridLa Balsa de la Medusa (edición original: Estocolmo, Almqvis & Wiksell, 1962)
  • ARNAIZ, José Manuel
    Las pinturas negras
    MadridEdiciones Antiquaria, S.A
    pp. 94-95
  • MORENO DE LAS HERAS, Margarita
    Goya. Pinturas del Museo del Prado
    MadridMuseo Nacional del Prado
    pp. 306-307
  • JUNQUERA, Paulina
    Las Pinturas Negras de Goya
    LondonScala Publishers Ltd.
    pp. 84-85
  • COTENTIN, Régis
    Expérience Goya (cat. expo)
    LilleRéunion des Musées Nationaux
    p. 141
Enlaces externos
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