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Last updated: 1/25/2017
Home / Gallery Tour 1 / "The Sleep of Reason Produces Monsters" / Gallery Tour 2 / Artists
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Francisco Goya y Lucientes (Spanish, 1746-1828): Original Etchings for Los Caprichos

Goya’s Caprichos (1799) and Disasters of War (c. 1808-1814), Durer's Ship of Fools woodcuts (1494), David Deuchar’s etchings (1786) after Hans Holbein’s Dance of Death, John Martin’s Paradise Lost mezzotints (1823-25), Georges Rouault’s Miserere mixed-media intaglios (1922-1928), and Marc Chagall's Dead Souls (etching and drypoint, 1923-1927)

Caprichos 43, 1-5 / Caprichos 6-10 / Caprichos 11-17 / Caprichos18-24 / Caprichos 25-30 / Caprichos 31-36
Caprichos 37-42 / Caprichos 43-50 / Caprichos 51-59 / Caprichos 60-67 / Caprichos 68-75 / Caprichos 76-80

Disasters of War 1-11 / Disasters 12-22 / Disasters 23-33 / Disasters 34-43
Disasters 44-53 / Disasters 54-63 / Disasters 64-73 / Disasters 74-81

Proverbios and others

Old Master Drawings and Prints
George Santayana famously said that "those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it" (in The Life of Reason, Vol. I: Reason in Common Sense). The question, of course, is which past are we supposed to remember, immediate, middle distance, ancient? And what are we to do with our memories? Let us begin with the memories depicted in Goya's great print series, Los Caprichos, the Disasters of War, and the Proverbios.

The eighty etchings that make up Goya’s most important series of prints, Los Caprichos (1799), have long been recognized as one of the supreme monuments of European art. Goya, royal painter to the kings of Spain during the late eighteenth-early nineteenth centuries, eventually died in exile, both of his major print series having been "donated" to the crown to protect him from the Inquisition. A believer in the potential power of reason, his works show what happens when reason is trampled underfoot by individual human follies and corrupt social customs. In these works Goya looks at his country and memorializes it as a monument to desperation, folly, arrogance, incompetence, and the need that some of his subjects have to try to control the uncontrollable. Spaightwood has a complete set (from the sixth edition—an edition we first saw presented in an exhibit of Goya’s works at the Gutenberg Museum in Mainz, Germany); we will show the entire series of 80: almost all in impressions from the sixth edition, but with a scattering of pieces from the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and 5th editions as well. We also include several impressions from the Disasters of War and one of the Proverbios.

In the Foreword to his edition of Goya's Complete Etchings, Aldous Huxley (whose Brave New World offers a fairly bleak view of the fates of men and women in a world ruled by monsters), summarized Goya's portrayal of his world in his "Later Works" (which include all of Goya's major etching series: "These creatures who haunt Goya's Later Works are inexpressibly horrible, with the horror of mindlessness and animality and spiritual darkness. And above the lower depths where they obscenely pullulate is a world of bad priests and lustful friars, of fascinating women whose love is a 'dream of lies and inconstancy,' of fatuous nobles and, at the top of the social pyramid, a royal family of half-wits, sadists, Messalinas and perjurers. The moral of it all is summed up in the central plate of the Caprichos [originally plate 1], in which we see Goya himself, his head on his arms, sprawled across his desk and fitfully sleeping, while the air above is peopled with bats and owls of necromancy and just behind his chair lies an enormous witch's cat, malevolent as only Goya's cats can be, staring at the sleeper with baleful eyes. On the side of the desk are traced the words, 'The dream [or 'sleep'] of reason produces monsters.'" While perhaps not the last words on the Caprichos, these offer a very good first response to the series, one that can only get richer and more complicated as we look again and yet again at the works.

Select Bibliography: Rogelio Buendia Goya (NY: Arch Cape Press, 1990), Jean-François Chabrun, Goya: His Life and Work (NY: Tudor, 1965), Colta Ives & Susan Alyson Stein Goya in the Metropolitan Museum of Art (NY: Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1995), Dagmar Feghelm, I, Goya (Munich: Prestel, 2004); Raymond Keaveney, Master European Paintings from the National Gallery of Ireland from Mantegna to Goya (Dublin: National Gallery Of Ireland, 1992), Fred Licht, Goya and the Origins of the Modern Temper in Art (NY: Harper & Row, 1983), Park West Gallery. Goya: Sleeping Giant (Southfield MI: Park West Gallery, n.d.), Alfonso E. Perez Sanchez, and Eleanor Sayre, Goya and the Spirit of the Enlightenment (Boston: Museum of Fine Arts, 1989), Maurice Raynal, The Great Centuries of Painting: The Nineteenth Century. New Sources of Emotion from Goya to Gauguin (Geneva: Skira, 1951), Richard Schickel, The World of Goya 1746-1828 (NY: Time-Life Books, 1968), The Royal Academy of Arts in London, Goya and his times (London: Royal Academy, 1963), Janis A. Tomlinson, Goya in the Twilight of the Enlightenment (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1992), Juliet Wilson-Bareau & Manuela B. Mena Marqués, Goya: Truth and Fantasy. The Small Paintings (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1994).

Works on Prints: The standard catalogue raisonnes of Goya's prints by Loys Delteil and Tomas Harris (Goya Engravings and Lithographs, 2 vols., rpt. ed. 1964) are both out of print. See Nigel Glendinning, Goya: La Década de los Caprichos. Retratos 1792-1804 (Madrid: Real Academia de Bellas Artes de San Francisco, 1992), Verna Posever Curtis and Selma Reuben Holo, La Tauromaquia: Goya, Picasso and the Bullfight (Milwaukee: Milwaukee Art Museum, 1986), Anthony H. Hull, Goya: Man Among Kings (NY: Hamilton Books, 1987), Aldous Huxley, ed., The Complete Etchings of Goya (NY: Crown Publishers, 1943; Huxley incorporates Goya's own comments on the Caprichos from a manuscript now in the Prado in Madrid, many of which I have incorporated in my descriptions; more frequently I have used the translations in the Dover Edition (NY: Dover Publications, 1969) of Los Caprichos; R. Stanley Johnson, Goya: Los Caprichos (Chicago: R.S. Johnson, 1992; Johnson usefully cites remarks of an early commentator on Goya from a manuscript preserved in the Biblioteca Nacional, Madrid, some of which I have incorporated in my descriptions), Elie Lambert, Goya: L'oeuvre grave (Paris: Alpina, n.d.), Roger Malbert, ed. Disasters of War: Callot, Goya, Dix (London: Cornerhouse Publications, 1998), Alfonso E. Pérez Sánchez, & Julián Gállego, Goya: The Complete Etchings and Engravings (Munich: Prestel-Verlag, 1995), Nicholas Stogdon, Francisco de Goya, Los Caprichos: Twenty Proofs and a New Census (London: N.G. Stogdon, Inc, 1988), Janis A. Tomlinson, Graphic Evolutions: The Print Series of Francesco Goya (NY: Columbia University Press, 1989).
Francisco Goya y Lucientes (Spanish, 1746-1828), The sleep of reason produces monsters (Caprichos 43, Delteil 80, Harris 78). Original etching and aquatint, c. 1798. Very good impression from the sixth edition (230 impressions). There were about 610 impressions in the first five editions. This is one of the most important prints in the history of European art. This was originally intended to be the first print in the Caprichos; in the final version it became plate 43, and served to introduce the second half of the series. Goya wrote on one of the prparatory drawings for this print, "The author is dreaming. His only intention is to banish harmful superstition and to perpetuate with this work of fancy the sound testimony of Truth." Image size: 215x150mm. Price: SOLD.
Francisco Goya y Lucientes (Spanish, 1746-1828), Francisco Goya y Lucientes, Painter (Caprichos 1, D. 38, H. 36). Original etching and aquatint, c. 1798. Very good impression from the sixth edition (230 impressions). There were about 610 impressions in the first five editions. A text in the Biblioteca Nacional in Madrid calls this "his true self-portrait, in bad humor and with a satirical expression." This is one of the most famous self-portraits by an artist in European art. Illustrated and discussed in James Clifton, A Portrait of the Artist, 1525-1825: Prints from the Collection of the Sarah Campbell Blaffer Foundation (Houston: Museum of Fine Arts, 2005), pp. 74-77. It is also reproducedd on the rear cover of the book. Image size: 215x150mm. Price: SOLD.
Francisco Goya y Lucientes (Spanish, 1746-1828), They say "yes," and give their hand (Caprichos 2, D. 39, H. 37). Original etching and aquatint, c. 1798. Very good impression from the sixth edition (230 impressions). There were about 610 impressions in the first five editions. Goya comments on "The indifference with which many women marry, hoping thereby to win greater liberty." Image size: 215x150mm. Price: SOLD.
Francisco Goya y Lucientes (Spanish, 1746-1828), Here comes the bogey man (Caprichos 3, D. 40, Harris 38). Original etching and aquatint, c. 1798. Very good impression from the sixth edition (230 impressions). There were about 610 impressions in the first five editions. An early commentator (possibly Goya himself) comments on "the lamentable state of early education" and condemns those who would "cause a child to fear ... something that does not exist." Image size: 215x150mm. Price: SOLD
Francisco Goya y Lucientes (Spanish, 1746-1828), Nanny's boy (Caprichos 4, D. 41, H. 39). Original etching and aquatint, c. 1798. Very good impression from the sixth edition (230 impressions). There were about 610 impressions in the first five editions. Goya comments, "Indifference, laxness, and too much fondling make children naughty, greedy, lazy, and unbearable. They grow up and yet remain childish. Here is a big spoilt booby." Image size: 215x150mm. Price: $2000.
Francisco Goya y Lucientes (Spanish, 1746-1828), Two of a kind (Caprichos 5, D. 42, H. 40). Original etching and aquatint, c. 1798. Very good impression from the sixth edition (230 impressions). There were about 610 impressions in the first five editions. Goya comments: "People argue whether man or woman is worse by nature. The vice of one as well as the other is the result of bad upbringing. Where men are perverted women are the same. The young lady in this etching is no better than the fop talking to her. As regards the two old people, the first is as vile as the second." Image size: 215x150mm. Price: SOLD.

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