Ash Wednesday again

The Burial of the Sardine, Goya, 1814. Real Academia de Bellas Artes de San Fernando, Madrid, Spain
The Burial of the Sardine, Goya, 1814.
Real Academia de Bellas Artes de San Fernando, Madrid, Spain

This extraordinary painting is typical of Goya, with a grotesque undercurrent to an ostensibly traditional scene. “The burial of the sardine” was (and is),  a typically distinctive Spanish celebration of the end of festivities, and the onset of Lent. Why a sardine, I’m not sure, other than its burning and/or burial had a purgative symbolism – getting rid of bad habits and sins, entering a period of formal penance. The sardine may be a variation of a breed of pig with a similar name, sardina, which while still wacky, makes more sense.

(My favourite Ash Wednesday scene is still Carl Spitzweg‘s astonishingly atmospheric painting).

So Lent begins, with all that Ash Wednesday implies.

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