Man Mocked by Two Women Francisco de Goya Buy Art Prints Now
from Amazon

* As an Amazon Associate, and partner with Google Adsense and Ezoic, I earn from qualifying purchases.

Tom Gurney BSc (Hons) is an art history expert with over 20 years experience
Published on June 19, 2020 / Updated on October 14, 2023
Email: [email protected] / Phone: +44 7429 011000

Man Mocked by Two Women is an oil on plaster painting completed between 1820 and 1823 by the Francisco de Goya. It is believed to have been created on the walls of his home during a period of great mental, physical and political disillusionment, towards the end of his life.

It is a dominantly dark painting in both mood and colour, depicting two women who seem to be laughing or jeering at a man who had his hands in his groin. Based on the sickly grin on the man's face, which indicates some sort of sexual compulsion, the man is thought to be in the act of masturbation. The painting is part of a series of 14 paintings - Black Paintings - all made at a time of despair. As he never spoke or wrote about most of the works made during this period, the intended meaning of the artwork is only speculative. Man Mocked by Two Women can be viewed as a self-mockery by the artist. Just like the man who exposes himself without reservation, Francisco opens up to his audience without holding back.

The audience – like the two women watching – view the act as obscene and unacceptable but are still drawn to it, as seen by their interested maniacal smiles. The darkened bottom half of the painting influenced the idea that the woman on the left side of the painting also has her hand in her garments, masturbating just as the man is. More evidence of this is the woman’s smile which is as distorted as that of the masturbating man. The painting can, therefore, be interpreted to show the hypocritical reaction of the public to the works of artists such as Francisco. The audience will be attracted to the shamelessness and lack of restraint by the artist, but will still view them as aberrations.

The man's brazen behaviour is desired by the women, but their cowardice only permits them to experience it in the dark without have to bear the shame. He made all the 14 paintings in the Black Paintings directly onto the plaster walls of his house in Madrid, known as La Quinta del Sordo. He used a black overlay, on which he used lighter shades of white, grey, green, blue and brown to etch out the figures. It is only in 1874, 50 years after his demise, that the paintings were taken down and transferred onto canvas. It is currently housed in the Museo del Prado, Madrid.