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Last updated: 1/25/2017
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Francisco Goya y Lucientes (Spanish, 1746-1828): Caprichos 68-75

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
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.

"What a pity that the people should believe such nonsense," Goya remarks below in his note on Caprichos 12, Tooth hunting." What we see over and over in these etchings—and particularly in this grouping—is the ability of people to believe almost any nonsense, no matter how harmful to themselves or others. In these plates, Goya shows us what people will do for money: marry people they find physically disgusting, sell their daughters into unequal marriages to secure material goods for their families, or prey upon each other through violence or sorcery.

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), 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 Thomas Harris 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), 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, many 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), Pretty teacher! (Caprichos 68, D. 105, H. 103). Original etching and aquatint, c. 1798. A very good impression from the sixth edition (230 impressions). There were about 610 impressions in the first five editions. Goya commented: "The broom is one of the most necessary implements for witches; for besides being great sweepers, as the stories tell, they may be able to change the broom into a fast mule and go with it where the Devil cannot reach them." Signed in the plate, lower left. Image size: 215x150mm. Price: SOLD.
Blow (Caprichos 69, D. 106, H. 104). Original etching and aquatint, c. 1798. A very good impression from the sixth edition (230 impressions). There were about 610 impressions in the first five editions. Goya comments, "No doubt there was a great catch of children the previous night. The banquet which the are preparing will be a rich one: 'Bon appetit.' " One of the most disquieting images in the Caprichos! Signed in the plate, lower left. Image size: 215x150mm. Price: $2000.
Devout profession (Caprichos 70, D. 107, H. 105). Original etching and aquatint, c. 1798. A good impression from the sixth edition (230 impressions). There were about 610 impressions in the first five editions. Goya comments, " 'Will you swear to obey and respect your masters and superiors, to sweep the garrets, to spin tow, to ring bells, to howl, to yell, to fly, to cook, to grease, to suck, to bake, to fry, everything and whatever time you are ordered to?' "I swear.' 'Well then, my girl, you are now a witch. Congratulations.' " Image size: 215x150mm. Price: SOLD.
When day breaks we will be off (Caprichos 71, D. 108, H. 106). Original etching and aquatint, c. 1798. A good impression from the fifth edition (210 impressions). The 1st edition (1799) was 300 impressions. The second and third were each "very small" and show little wear. Harris describes the fourth edition as slightly inferior to the first, but still well-printed. Goya comments, "Even if you hadn't come you wouldn't have been missed." Most impressions from the 5th edition are not as well printed as those from the 6th edition. This is an important exception! Image size: 215x150mm. Price: $2500.
When day breaks we will be off (Caprichos 71, D. 108, H. 106). Original etching and aquatint, c. 1798. A very good impression from the sixth edition (230 impressions). There were about 610 impressions in the first five editions. Goya comments, "Even if you hadn't come you wouldn't have been missed." Image size: 215x150mm. Price: $2000.
No te escaparas / You will not escape (Caprichos 72, D. 109, H. 107). Original etching and aquatint, c. 1798. A very good impression from the third edition before the plates were beveled. According to Tomas Harris' catalogue raisonné, there were about 300 impressions in the first edition and both the second and third editions were very small and printed in dark umber ink. Goya comments, "She who wants to be caught never escapes." Image size: 215x150mm. Price: $4000.
You will not escape (Caprichos 72, D. 109, H. 107). Original etching and aquatint, c. 1798. A very good impression from the sixth edition (230 impressions). There were about 610 impressions in the first five editions. Goya comments, "She who wants to be caught never escapes." Image size: 215x150mm. Price: SOLD.
It is better to be lazy (Caprichos 73, D. 110, H. 108). Original etching and aquatint, c. 1798. A good impression from the sixth edition (230 impressions). There were about 610 impressions in the first five editions. Goya comments, "Mother has dropsy and they have sent her on an outing. God willing, she may recover." Image size: 215x150mm. Price: $2000.
Don't scream, stupid (Caprichos 74, D. 111, H. 109). Original etching and aquatint, c. 1798. A good impression from the sixth edition (230 impressions). There were about 610 impressions in the first five editions. Goya comments, "Poor Paquila! She was looking for the footman and runs into the goblin, but don't be afraid: it is plain that Martinico is in a good mood and won't do her any harm." Image size: 215x150mm. Price: $2000.
Can't anyone untie us? (Caprichos 75, D. 112, H. 110). Original etching and aquatint, c. 1798. A good impression from the sixth edition (230 impressions). There were about 610 impressions in the first five editions. Goya comments, "A man and a woman tied together with ropes, struggling to get loose and crying out to be untied quickly? Either I am mistaken, or they are two people who have been forced to marry." This plate contrasts with the previous one in which a maid goes looking for a footman but finds a goblin in a good mood who won't harm her; here two people tied in an arranged marriage are miserable and suffering under the power of the demonic owl, not the good-humored goblin. Image size: 215x150mm. Price: $2500.

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