Paintings of the Quinto del Sordo
Paintings in the Quinto del Sordo also take up the theme of violence. In 1819, Goya purchased this house and property near the River Manzanares on the outskirts of Madrid (Bozal 5). The groups of murals on the ground-floor and second-story are collectively referred to as the Black Paintings, though the title was given during the twentieth century (Bozal 5). Rooms containing the paintings were approximately 33 by 15 feet in size (Hughes 379). Immediately after Goya’s death in 1828 Antonio Brugada inventoried the murals (Bozal 8). On the first floor, Saturn (Figure 13), devours a child. The second story has a mural of two men fighting with clubs (Figure 12) (Bozal 9-11). One of the men is bleeding.
The spatial context of Fantastic Vision (Figure 4), helps confirm Goya’s intent to convey themes of reason and madness. The mural would have been on the second floor on the long wall, to the right of the entrance door. Today, the Black Paintings hang in the Prado museum in Madrid (Hughes 15). On the smaller wall, right beside Fantastic Vision (Figure 4), hung an image of the head of a small dog peering over a low wall, engulfed by negative space. The proximity of Half-submerged Dog (Figure 10), to Fantastic Vision (Figure 4), is significant. Together, the images provide a more holistic vision of the effects of madness.
Foucault explains that the classical period transitioned madness into a state of non-being (Foucault 115). The dog is alone in the painting. His eyes stare vacantly towards a void. However, the X-ray version (Junquera 70) of the dog painting in Figure 11, reveals a large ochre-colored shadow that is nearly identical in shape of the mountain in Fantastic Vision in Figure 4. Conceiving the brown shadow to be a mountain looming over the dog produces an instant visual link to Citadel on a Rock in Figure 1, Fantastic Vision in Figure 4, and several other Quinto del Sordo paintings. Duel with Cudgels in Figure 12 has the base of a mountain in the background, as does The St. Isidore Pilgrimage (Figure 14), and The Holy Office (Figure 15).
Nigel Glendinning, a renowned Goya researcher, also considers the brown shape in Half-submerged Dog in Figure 10, to resemble a large cliff. However, he and other scholars have been unable to definitively identify the mass (Heckes 380-381). An extant early photograph of the image, taken before the Black Paintings were removed from the Quinto del Sordo, has not helped solve the mystery (Heckes 380-381). By repeating the cliff image, Goya emphasizes ideas of reason and madness. He enjoyed making unified groupings of subjects (Glendinning 20). The proximity of Fantastic Vision (Figure 4), to Half-submerged Dog (Figure 10), along with the visual similarities existent in several other Black Paintings imply that Goya deliberately intended to create a program of images serving as a discourse on reason and madness.