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Tom Gurney BSc (Hons) is an art history expert with over 20 years experience
Published on June 19, 2020 / Updated on October 14, 2023
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Francisco de Goya is known for his prominent works such as Asmodea and other black paintings. He was a Spanish court painter and printmaker whose lifetime marked a shift in the world of art.

The artist mainly conveyed his life and thoughts through paintings and art. Sources have it that Velazquez and Rembrandt inspired him to become Spain's leading painter in the late 16th century. After a while, he was recognised as the court painter to the royal family, and his painting career skyrocketed. He had a way of showing realistic and visually conflicting art. His most famous painting, Asmodea, brought about a lot of reaction from viewers.

The artist made the painting on his house's walls (the Quinta del Sordo, outside of Madrid) in his end years. It is among his 14 Black paintings, which were his last major series of paintings. Looking at the painting, viewers can identify two flying figures hovering over a landscape. The two figures are a man and a woman, mainly depicted by how they are dressed. The woman is in a white dress and has her face covered by a red robe. It covers her lower part of the face. The man is also in white, but his coat has some traces of black.

Both of them are facing different directions and look fearful. The man points to the mountain, but the woman is looking away in the opposite direction as if they are being pursued. Below them is a crowd of people headed to a large tabled mountain for refuge. They are travelling with horses and wagons and seem to be fleeing from some kind of danger. The mountain seems to have a city-like structure on its top. On the right edge, one can see two riflemen aiming at the two flying figures. As a master of surrealism, most people are unable to interpret Francisco's thoughts.

He didn't speak of the art, and no written or oral record of the art exists. He didn't name the painting Asmodea. Antonio Brugada, his close friend and a Spanish painter names the art Asmodea. He was referring to the demon king Asmodeus (from Tobias).

According to critics, the tabled mountain resembles Gibraltar, a refuge for Spanish liberals during the Peninsular War. The group travelling below are the nationals looking for refuge from France's war (the two riflemen are perceived to be French). Initially, this painting was created on a cloth and hung on the wall. The artist placed the work on the upper floor's side walls in his house, the Quinta. It has been reproduced in oil and canvas painting.

Asmodea in Detail Francisco de Goya