Goya: The Witches and Old Women Album

The Courtauld Gallery

26 February – 25 May 2015

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Revealing Goya's obsession with visions, nightmares, superstitions and mortality.

Ravaged by a debilitating near-fatal illness and all-but completely deaf, Francisco Goya was a changed artist in middle age. While he continued as a court painter to the Spanish crown, privately he worked on a series of albums where he recorded his increasingly dark thoughts.

The drawings they contained – populated with nightmarish figures, superstitious tales and horrific deaths – were never intended to be seen beyond a small circle of friends. They are brutally indicative of his mental state; at the same time he had isolated himself in a remote house outside of Madrid where he covered the walls with his ‘Black Paintings’.

After his death in 1828 the eight albums were broken up and scattered across museums and private collections. This is the first exhibition to bring together all the drawings from the Witches and Old Women album – previously misunderstood as individual drawings rather than a single project. The final surviving page is particularly poignant: an elderly figure leaning on two sticks entitled ‘Can’t go on any longer...’.

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Opening times

The Courtauld Gallery is currently closed for a 2 year redevelopment project from September 2018.

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