Saturday in the Museum with Francisco

Image: Francisco de Goya, Still Life With Sheep’s Head (c. 1808-1812)

Today we make a virtual trip to the Louvre – because how else can you get there now?!  For our Saturday art posting we move from the 18th to the 19th century with this painting of butcher shop work by Spanish master Francisco de Goya.  In this case, the virtual trip is better than an in-person one because this work is not currently on display.

The Goya Foundation site description provides this context:

“According to many scholars of Goya’s work, the elements which appear in this series of still lifes, which was possibly made during the Spanish War of Independence (1808-1814), are evocations of the many episodes of death and violence that Spain witnessed during those years. The flesh of the animals – inert, discarded material, depicted with a surprising crudeness – could therefore be a reference to the human remains left behind by the violent conflict.”

The site continues noting that this presentation is a break from the more composed and pretty still life paintings of earlier generations:

“This series of still lifes represents an important reinvention of the genre, refusing as it did to comply with the way in which themes of this kind had traditionally been treated. We are not, therefore, looking at foodstuffs arranged to decorate and brighten a table; rather, these are dead animals, heaped before us with little care.”

With relish, they describe the painting:

“In Pieces of Lamb, Goya has painted, on top of a table and in front of a black background, a decapitated lamb’s head, turned to face the two crossed slabs of ribs in the centre of the composition, as if looking at them, with an absorbed, impassive, almost resigned expression on its face. The dulled colours and the purplish red help to emphasize the idea of dead meat.”


We are particularly fond of lamb here at 17 Degrees CxNW.  The fresh out-of-the-kitchen, just past rare loin preparation is difficult to come by at this moment (unless done at home), but the other parts served in stew and braises do travel well for take-out.  If you have read this far we recommend that you check out our D.C. dining guide where we can help you find a great place for take-out, delivery, or even sitdown should you decide to risk it.

We have more than 300 recommended restaurants listed.  We have more places listed than most guides and more up-to-date information than any other guide for Washington.  You can sort by neighborhood, cuisine, or current status (dine-in, take-out, etc.). You can search by LIST or MAP.  It’s pretty cool.  Check it out.

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