Sunday, January 8, 2012

Heaven & Earth on Sunday: Goya, Roast Chicken, River

Goya Pantheon, The Church of San Antonio de la Florida
1/8/12 – Glorieta de San Antonio de la Florida, 5

One of Goya's angels
The artist Francisco de Goya y Lucientes (1746-1828), or simply Goya, is growing on me.  He painted the lovely ceiling in the Church of San Antonio de la Florida at the height of his creative powers, in 1798.

According to a pamphlet for sale (1 Euro, 60 pp., available in English), this riverside neighborhood of Madrid has a long history of devotion to St. Anthony of Padova, the Patron Saint of unmarried girls.  On his feast day June 13, maidens arrived at St. Anthony’s shrine to ask for a husband.  They dropped thirteen pins into the holy water and dipped their hand to see how many pins would stick to it.  The number foretold their suitors for the year.  One can see the holy water font where this activity once took place, in the vestibule of the Church of San Antonio.  The neoclassical-style building was a royal chapel until 1881, when it became a parish church.  To protect Goya’s frescoes, the church turned into a museum in 1929.  An identical church—for worship and yearly romantic divination—was built next door.  

Goya's tomb and his frescoes lie within this neoclassical church
Goya died in France, but his remains were transferred to San Antonio de la Florida in 1919 (mysteriously, his skull was missing).  Thus, in one visit, homage can be paid to both artist and his creation.  

The frescoes are remarkable for several reasons.  Some elements of Goya’s style prefigure Impressionism, not to mention Goya’s creepy series of Black Paintings in the Prado.  The highest point, the cupola, contains an earthly instead of a heavenly scene.  Goya depicts a story from St. Anthony’s life, when the Saint’s own father was wrongly accused of murder.  St. Anthony brings the corpse to life—a miracle—for questioning, and the dead man proclaims the father’s innocence.  Onlookers in the scene are dressed as Goya’s contemporaries, from beggars to gossiping ladies.  The luminous angels that decorate the vaults have been excoriated for their secular appearance—they might be beauties of Madrid high society, in sashes and diaphanous dresses. 

After admiring Goya, we stepped across the street to the venerable cider-and-chicken house, Casa Mingo, a fixture of the neighborhood since 1888.*  

Casa Mingo, side view
Casa Mingo serves its own fermented cider, along with spit-roasted chicken, in a bustling restaurant.  On a Sunday, try to arrive before 2 p.m., when the line for tables can spill out the door.  Son 1 was intrigued by the sparse occupational duties of the chicken guy—impale, stack, roast in flames, remove. Three chickens served the 5 of us. 

Casa Mingo dining room

Afterwards, a stroll back to the train station, along Madrid's Manzanares River, was just the ticket.   

Manzanares River

In winter, the banks are almost empty. A lone fisherman cast his line.
*This expedition to Goya’s pantheon and Casa Mingo was first suggested to me by Kay, a long-time Madrid aficionada and Madison, Wisconsin resident.

1 comment:

  1. Dulcinea, just as your name, you are so sweet. If I had mentioned Casa Mingo, I had completely forgotten, but it is a bustling place, for sure. Glad you and the family enjoyed.