By Museo Lázaro Galdiano
Museo Lázaro Galdiano
Witches' Sabbath (1797-1798) by Francisco de Goya y LucientesMuseo Lázaro Galdiano
This painting was commissioned in 1798, along with five other paintings related to witchcraft, by the Duke and Duchess of Osuna.
The devil is portrayed as a black goat with big eyes in the centre of the painting. Laurel or oak leaves are hung around his large horns.
The goat is surrounded by a group of young and old hags.
One of the witches offers a child to the devil, to allow him to feed on it.
The devil seems to be acting as priest at an initiation ceremony for the child.
An old witch holds a skeletal child and offers it to the devil to be fed upon.
A dead child, who has already been fed upon, is discarded on the ground.
Popular superstition at the time believed the devil often fed on children and human fetuses.
The painting is a critique of superstition and inquisitorial processes. "Aquelarre", a Basque word meaning "meadow bastard" is a gathering of witches performing rituals and spells or summons to worship the devil.