Saturn devouring his son, Francisco de Goya – description of the painting

Description of the picture:

Saturn devouring his own offspring – Francisco de Goya. 1819-1823. Canvas, oil. 146×215; eighty three cm

   One of the most recognizable wall paintings by Francisco Goya, included in the cycle “Gloomy paintings.”

   Over the past years, the picture has gained a huge number of interpretations, but, the usual says that the hero of the painting is Kronos, a higher-order deity from ancient Greek mythology. Later, the Romans, who took over part of the mythology from the Greeks, renamed Kronos into Saturn, and specifically under this name the painting went down in the history of painting.

   The plot of the picture is the following – at one point, Uranus predicted to the titan that he would be overthrown by his children, and, fearing this, Kronos or Saturn devoured all their own babies, only a little they had time to see the light. But the cunning Rhea managed to fool the fierce Kronos – she hid her own offspring of Zeus, and instead gave him to swallow a stone for her husband.

   Some researchers are willing to argue that the baby-eating monster is Kronos, because the myth says that the titan devoured the offspring right in the diapers, and in the picture of Goya he tears the living flesh to pieces.

   The artist’s interpretation of this plot is very curious, especially in comparison with the works of other painters who addressed this topic. If in the picture of Rubens Saturn is a completely confident deity with a human appearance, then Goya Saturn is a freak and a monster with a terrible body and wrong proportions.

   The painting was created in the period from one thousand eight hundred nineteen to one thousand eight hundred and twenty-three. – On the wall of their own house, which the inhabitants christened, as “Villa Deaf”, Goya made a series of terrible frescoes, which he did not give the name. Contemporaries recalled that the painter was at that time in a particularly gloomy mood, connected with the troubles of the Spanish Revolution, and decided to paint murals more appropriate to the mood of Goya on top of the already made cheerful paintings. So this awesome series appeared.

   The famous house was not preserved, and was destroyed even at the beginning of the last century, but, fortunately, all the frescoes of the famous painter were transferred to the canvas by Salvador Kubels. Now “Saturn devouring his own son” is kept in the Prado Museum."