Cats in the Enlightenment (Part 16 – Cats in Art – Francisco Goya)

Francisco de Goya, cats in artFrancisco Goya (1746-1828), used cats in art as symbols and allegories in his etchings.  In the 1799 etching Alla va eso or in English, There it Goes, part of the Caprichos group of etchings, a witch holds on to the devil who is holding some sort of staff which a cat bites.  Goya often used witches as a form of social criticism. In another famous etching, The Dream (or Sleep) of Reason Produces Monsters, we see the artist himself, Goya, fitfully asleep at his desk while above him are bats and owls representative of necromancy.  Next to his chair an over-sized cat stares at the sleeper who is desperate for reason to triumph over superstition. For Goya cats in art are still the iconic symbol of the devil and witchcraft. 

Alla Va Eso Etching 1797-1798 Francisco Goya New York Public Library, cats in art

Alla Va Eso
Etching
1797-1798
Francisco Goya
New York Public Library

 

 

Donde Va Mama Etching 1797-1798 Francisco Goya New York Public Library, cats in art

Donde Va Mama
Etching
1797-1798
Francisco Goya
New York Public Library

 

Rina De Gatos Francisco Goya, cats in art

Rina De Gatos
Francisco Goya
Prada Museum

At the very end of the 18th century Goya painted Don Manuel Osorio Manrique de Zuniga .  In the child’s portrait, three cats intently stare at a pet magpie which holds Goya’s calling card.  The cat is a contrast to the child’s innocent gaze, and the birds symbolize the soul and death.    

 


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