As we're sharing our witchcraft episodes "What's in a witch's brew?" and "Hammer of the Witches," I thought we might stop to consider the exploration of witchcraft in the paintings of Spanish romantic painter Francisco Goya (1746 - 1828).
At the top of the page you see Goya's masterful mural Witches' Sabbath or The Great He-Goat, painted directly on the wall of the painter's house between 1821 and 1823. As with his other so-called "black paintings," which includes Saturn Devouring His Son, the mural was never intended for public consumption. Rather, he painted them towards the end of his life in a time of physical and mental decline. He had withdrawn from public life out of disgust for Spain's political and social trajectory. His work during this time orbited around mysteries of violence, darkness and death.
And so there we see witches gathered around a bestial Satan, a common motif of witchcraft theory and persecution in the preceding centuries -- a time of darkness that Goya saw reflected in the modern world.
Witches appear in several of Goya's works, reflecting both a fascination with supernatural themes and a hatred of superstitious thinking and the violence such minds inflict on the world. His 1798 painting Witches' Flight illustrates this nicely, with episcopal witches bearing a victim on high above a superstitious bystander and the donkey of ignorance.
Below we see two more paintings, Witches Sabbath (1798) and The Execution of a Witch (1824):