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The Night Watch or Twelfth Night

The Night Watch or Twelfth Night

Technical details

  • Author Eugenio Lucas Velázquez
  • Title The Night Watch or Twelfth Night
  • Timeline c. 1855-1860
  • Technique Oil on canvas


The Night Watch or Twelfth Night is a very representative painting by Eugenio Lucas Velázquez, the best painter of “Goya-related themes” in the 19th century. He painted a popular scene of Madrid in the mid-19th century, "waiting for the Three Kings" on the night of the 5th to the 6th of January. A raucous group of ordinary inhabitants of Madrid, carrying large torches lit to light up the night, roam the streets with all sorts of tambourines, drums and cowbells to make some noise. They  accompany a gullible man carrying a ladder and make him believe that the Three Kings are coming, and are showering onlookers with gold and silver coins, and that if he climbs his ladder, he will be able to see them and obtain a few. The way in which the figures are painted and the expressions on the grotesque faces of those escorting the man show clear references to Goya's style, inspired by the Black Paintings, with which Lucas was very familiar after having valued them in 1855 for the execution of the estate belonging to Goya’s son, Javier.

Location in the museum

You may find this artwork on  Floor 3 Goya’s Legacy