I’ve always appreciated the art of Francisco Goya. His prints are astonishing and his 3rd of May took my breath away the first time I saw it in the Prado Museum. However, I have always struggled to get really excited over Goya and, unlike others, his works are some that I don’t always feel the need to see over and over again. That is until I discovered the Ermita de San Antonio de la Florida.
This small church is dedicated to St. Anthony of Padua and is one of Madrid’s finest examples of Neoclassical art. The interior is austere, but its ceiling is where the magic lies. Painted by Goya at the end of the 18th Century, these frescoes depict the miracles of St. Anthony, surrounded by ethereal scenes of angels and cherubs intertwined among lush fabric and fluffy clouds.
Expecting to see Goya’s typical dark subject matter and colours to match, I was surprised to enter a place full of light. Until I examined the faces of the figures, it was not a Goya I immediately recognized, as it is so different from his typical work. His heavy use of white and airy brush strokes evoke feelings of peace and joy.
Since 1919, this has been Goya’s resting place. There is a simple gravestone with his name when you enter the church. The Ermita de San Antonio de la Florida is a gorgeous place I never tire of visiting and a quiet reprieve from the busy city that surrounds it.