From his so-called Black Paintings painted in oil on the walls of his house, Saturn Devouring His Children was one product of Francisco Goya' misanthropic and pessimistic style. Based on the myth of Saturn (Time).Losing power to his childrens' ends he glares in lunatic frenzy while devouring part of a small body clutched in his hands. Goya emphasizes the gruesomeness.... forms are torn and jagged, the colors raw. Here , Goya's tragic vision returns to the haunted interior world of The Sleep of Reason Produces Monsters. Depicting what happens when humans are without reason saying the subject, man, cannot out-wit destiny.

This appalling late work is not only a savage expression of man's inhumanity to man, but a recognition of the desperate conditions of life itself.
Life is in time, and time devours all.


Lometa. "Artists and Art in the Classroom." Tucson, Arizona.
1994. (Lecture presented at St Joseph's Catholic School.)

Justus, Kevin. "Art and Culture II." Tucson , Arizona.
1992. (Lecture presented at Pima Community College.)

De La Croix, Horst, Richard D. Tansey, and Diane Kirkpatrick.
Art Through the Ages. University of Michigan: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich.

You may view an image of this work at

Mark Harden's Artchive:

Francisco Goya's "Saturn Devouring His Children" (Francisco Goya, ~1819-1823, Oil mural transferred to canvas, Romantic (1800-1850), Spain, currently part of the Museo de Prado's collection) shows a horrific scene of the Titan Saturn literally eating his children. Saturn was doing this because he was concerned his children were going to kill him off and succeed his kingship. Part of the Romantic art movement included scenes of horrific or Gothic imagery, particularly those that showed extreme emotions such as pain and anguish.

Around 1819, Goya purchased a house that was remote so he could focus on his work. By this time, he was aging and had several medical issues that were plaguing him. Some of his symptoms included deafness, tinnitus, and balance issues (which I personally have due to years of working on helicopters), plus the onset of paranoid dementia. He was frightened of his diseases, and started to translate that fear and anguish into his paintings. The Black Paintings were the culmination of his painting techniques and his feelings of despair as his health deteriorated. (D. Garcia, "Goya" (Madrid: Artista Publicación, 1948), pg 84-88). "Nigel Glendinning, a Professor of Spanish at London’s Queen Mary College in the 1970s, argues that Goya was motivated to use a young adult in his painting because of this personal frustration with his old age. Being fervently sick and unlucky in true love had much to do with Goya’s artistic choice. Attacking the young adult with crazed enthusiasm represents his conflict with time and how it changes people, more specifically: himself." ( Goya's Black Paintings. Web. 21 March 2015.)

The wild brushwork and the crazed look in the Titan Saturn's eyes as he performs his cannibalistic ritual on his child enhances the insanity of the subject. Goya understood he was having serious issues, and he translated these thoughts into some of his paintings. Another example of incorporating his fear into his artwork is "Corral de Locos" (Francisco Goya, ~1793, oil on tin, Spain, Meadows Museum), depicting an asylum yard filled with insane lunatics. He had visited several institutions earlier in his life, and he was so concerned that he was becoming paranoid and delusional that it impacted the way he thought and painted. This gave him an insight to what true insanity was like, and he was able to translate this into the way he painted Saturn. The dark tones (black and browns in particular) helped to impress a sense of despair and dread on the viewer. The distorted face of Saturn, his eyes wild and bulging as he tears parts off of his child and consumes them, solidifies the crazed, internally conflicted Titan's insane actions.

Iron Noder 2017

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