Censure of insincere
or excessive religious faith

Another notable aspect of Goya's vision of the Spain of his times was his critical view of excessive popular faith

Strange devotion (Disasters of War)

Another notable aspect of Goya's vision of the Spain of his times was his critical view of excessive popular faith, or false liturgies (DH13, Procession) and devotion taken to absurd lengths (DG66, DG67, B46, B45)

This criticism naturally extended to those members of the clergy who abused the credulity and fear of the Beyond which was common amongst the lower classes. It was an abuse that became even more contemptible when the ultimate objective was the acquisition of material comforts. As one can see in drawing no. 68 entitled This smacks of magic, piety abandons the world of religion to submerge itself in superstition, exploitation and injustice. Goya unmasks and denounces these practices as absurd and dangerous.

Goya's works on religious processions should also be mentioned. Goya reacts in two ways to this phenomenon. One is a primitive fascination for the bloody self-punishment of the flagellants (DB80, the oil painting Flagellants next to an arch, drawing G57). The other, according to some authors, is a contemptuous smile at the sterile solemnity of these events.

In his canvas Procession in Valencia, Goya sets a procession of the faithful against two rebellious donkeys in the foreground which are being moved out of the procession's path with great difficulty. Painted at the beginning of the 19th century, the canvas allows for several interpretations. Some have seen mockery in this work, others have seen a depiction of the battle between the spiritual and the animal in humanity. Perhaps Goya intended the painting to be interpreted in both senses.


Alcalá Flecha, Roberto. Literatura e ideología en el arte de Goya. Zaragoza: Diputación General de Aragón, 1988.

Francisco Javier García Marco

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