Goya's Nightmares Are Unleashed At The Courtauld Gallery

Tabish Khan
By Tabish Khan Last edited 36 months ago
Goya's Nightmares Are Unleashed At The Courtauld Gallery ★★★★★ 5
Feder und Pinsel in Grau und Schwarz (o.J.) von    Francisco JosÈ de Goya y Lucientes [30.3.1746 - 16.4.1828]    Blattmafl 23,4 x 14,6 cm   Inventar-Nr.: KdZ 4396   Person: Francisco JosÈ de Goya y Lucientes [1746 - 1828], Spanischer Maler   Systematik:    Personen / K¸nstler / Goya / Werke
A witch makes away with a bundle of tied babies on her back. Copyright Staatlich Museen, Berlin Preussischer, Kulturbesitz, Kupferstchkabinett.
A caged lunatic screams in an image that evokes more sympathy than fear. Copyright The Morgan Library and Museum, New York.
A caged lunatic screams in an image that evokes more sympathy than fear. Copyright The Morgan Library and Museum, New York.
Goya, Francisco de (1746-1828): Nightmare; Witches and Old Women Album (D), page 20; Pesadilla, ca. 1819�1823. New York, Metropolitan Museum of Art*** Permission for usage must be provided in writing from Scala.
Two skeletal men on top of a woman's shoulders become a contorted mess in this nightmarish arrangement. Copyright Metropolitan Museum of Art.
He Can No Longer at the Age of Ninety-Eight; Francisco José de Goya y Lucientes (Francisco de Goya), Spanish, 1746 - 1828; about 1819 - 1823; Brush and India ink; 23.3 x 14.4 cm (9 3/16 x 5 11/16 in.); 84.GA.646
An elderly person demonstrates the fragility of age as he progresses slowly with the aid of walking sticks. Copyright J. Paul Getty Museum.
This work probably references the rape of Europa by Zeus in the guise of a bull. Copyright The Morgan Library and Museum, New York.
This work probably references the rape of Europa by Zeus in the guise of a bull. Copyright The Morgan Library and Museum, New York.
An elderly man tumbles down some stairs. Copyright Staatlich Museen, Berlin Preussicher Kulturbesitz, Kupferstchkabinett.
An elderly man tumbles down some stairs. Copyright Staatlich Museen, Berlin Preussicher Kulturbesitz, Kupferstchkabinett.

Londonist Rating: ★★★★★

No artist portrays the macabre and the nightmarish like Goya and, in this exhibition at the Courtauld Gallery, an excellent collection of his prints and drawings are brought together for an historic showcase. It brings together all the surviving drawings from his famed Witches and Old Women album for the first time.

Goya is known for his haggard witches and this show doesn't disappoint with one giant carrying off her screaming victim who has been bound with snakes, while in another work two witches fight as dark demonic beings claw at them from above and below. The works get even darker as one character is carrying a bundle of tied up babies, but the most shocking piece depicts a woman holding a baby in her hands, looking up at the viewer just as she's about to start devouring the infant.

It's not simply witches that Goya portrayed but all sorts of nightmarish scenarios including a woman being attacked by a lecherous man, ghoulish looking monks and most surreally a screaming woman holding a bed sheet while riding a bull. He also explores the fragility of old age with an elderly person tumbling down the stairs and an old woman hunched in prayer..

Goya's imagination is truly let loose in this fantastic collection of prints and drawings, and it's the best art exhibition of the year so far.

Goya: The Witches and Old Women album is on at The Courtauld Gallery until 25 May. Tickets are £8.50 for adults and includes admission to the permanent collection.

For more art to see in London, see our most talked about and top 10 exhibitions for February. Nearby in Somerset House is the surreal photography of Guy Bourdin.

Last Updated 27 February 2015

James Guppy

Love Goya - this looks excellent.