Francisco de Goya

Datos Generales
The National Gallery, London, United Kingdom
42.5 x 30.8 cm
Técnica y soporte
Oil on canvas
Reconocimiento de la autoría de Goya
Undisputed work
The Trustees of the National Gallery
Ficha: realización/revisión
10 May 2010 / 14 Apr 2021

This work was purchased by the National Gallery in London in 1896.

Análisis artístico

The painting is based on a scene from Act II of the comedy The Forcibly Bewitched (El hechizado por fuerza), by Antonio de Zamora (Madrid, 1665-Ocaña, 1727), a very popular play in Goya's day. It was performed in Madrid around the same time as Goya was painting this series of works for the Duke and Duchess of Osuna, who were themselves enthusiastic theatre-goers and would have known Zamora's play well. According to Frank Irving, it may have been Moratín who recommended that Goya paint this particular scene, in the course of one of the literary gatherings which both men regularly attended at the home of the aristocrats who commissioned these paintings.

The picture shows the figure of Don Claudio, an Asturian cleric who believed himself to have been bewitched and who thought that his life depended on keeping an oil lamp burning, the same lamp held here by the devil in the form of a he-goat. Whilst he refills the lamp with oil he prays that the evil spell not come true. In the book shown in the extreme foreground we can read the fragments "LAM/DESCO" (from "Lámpara descomunal", or "Monstrous lamp"), in reference to the first two words of the monologue that the character of Don Claudio addresses to the lamp: "Monstrous lamp / whose vile reflection / just like a wick / sucks up my life's oil / ...".

At the back of the composition, three donkeys, painted with loose brushstrokes, are standing up on their hind legs and dancing. They represent the moment in the play when Don Claudio, walking across the room, says: "A dance here can be / seen, although not very well, / Of donkeys; I know who / Could join this dance".

With this work, Goya was commenting on how an unbalanced mind can end up turning fantasy into reality, and vice versa, and in this way brings to mind the content of his Caprices series of etchings.

For more information, see The Witches' Flight.


  • Goya y el espíritu de la Ilustración
    Museo Nacional del Prado
    from October 6th to December 18th 1988. Exhibited also at Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, January 18th to March 26th 1989; The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Nueva York, May 9th to July 16th 1989, Madrid curator Manuela B. Mena Marqués, scientific directors Alfonso E. Pérez Sánchez and Eleanor A. Sayre
  • Goya. El Capricho y la Invención. Cuadros de gabinete, bocetos y miniaturas
    Museo Nacional del Prado
    from November 18th 1993 to February 15th 1994. Exhibited also at the Royal Academy of Arts, London, March 18th to June 12th 1994 and The Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, July 16th to October 16th 1994, consultant editors Manuela B. Mena Marqués and Juliet Wilson-Bareau
  • Francisco de Goya: Maleri, Tegning, Grafikk
    from 10th to April 14th 1996
  • Goya: Prophet der Moderne
    Alte Nationalgalerie
    from July 13th to October 3th 2005. Exhibitied also at the Kunsthistorischemuseum, Vienna, October 18th 2005 to January 8th 2006, consultant editor Manuela B. Mena Marqués
  • Goya en tiempos de guerra
    Museo Nacional del Prado
    consultant editor Manuela B. Mena Marqués, from April 14th to July 13th 2008
  • L'œuvre peint de Goya. 4 vols
    p. 212, cat. 174
  • GASSIER, Pierre y WILSON, Juliet
    Vie et ouvre de Francisco de Goya
    ParísOffice du livre
    p. 188, cat. 663
  • vol. I, p. 296, cat. 359
  • ANGELIS, Rita de
    L’opera pittorica completa di Goya
    p. 111, cat. 343
  • José Camón Aznar
    Francisco de Goya, 4 vols.
    ZaragozaCaja de Ahorros de Zaragoza, Aragón y Rioja
    vol. III, p. 106
  • NORDSTRÖM, Folke
    Goya, Saturno y melancolía. Consideraciones sobre el arte de Goya
    pp. 154-158
  • Alfredo de Paz
    Goya. Arte e condizione umana
    NaplesLiguori editore
    il. 84
  • WILSON-BAREU, Juliet
    Goya. El capricho y la invención. Cuadros de gabinete, bocetos y miniaturas
    MadridMuseo del Prado
    pp. 211, 212, 213, 214, 215 y 221 (il.),
  • Asunción Fernández and Antonio Seva
    Goya y la locura
    pp. 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25 y 26.
  • Frank Irving Heckes
    Goya y sus seis asuntos de brujas
    Goyanº 295-296
    pp. 197-214
Enlaces externos
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