Francisco de Goya, “Vuelo de Brujas”, 1798, Oil on Canvas, Museo del Prado
“Vuelo de Brujas” or “Witches’ Flight” is an oil on canvas painting completed in 1798 by the Spanish painter Francisco de Goya. It was part of a series of six paintings related to witchcraft that was acquired by the Duke and Duchess of Osuna in that year. The painting decorated the Duke and Duchess’ villa, La Alameda, on the outskirts of Madrid; and eventually it was acquired by the Prado in 1999, where it is displayed today.
The general scholarly consensus is that the painting represents a rationalist critique of superstition and ignorance, particularly in religious matters and notably the violence of the Spanish Inquisition. The accusations of the religious tribunals are implicily equated with superstition and ritualized sacrifices. The donkey seen in the lower right corner is the traditional symbol of ignorance.