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Last updated: 1/25/2017
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Francisco Goya y Lucientes (Spanish, 1746-1828): Caprichos 76-80

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), You understand? . . . well, as I say . . . eh! Look out! otherwise . . . (Caprichos 76, Delteil 113, Harris 111). 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 commented: "The cockade and baton make this stupid bore think that he is a superior being, and he abuses the office entrusted to him to annoy everyone who knows him; he is proud, insolent, vain with all who are his inferiors; servile and abject with those who are his superiors." Image size: 215x150mm. Price: $2000.
What one does to another (Caprichos 77, D. 114, H. 112). 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, "It is the way of the world. People jest and fight with one another. He who yesterday played the part of the bull, today plays the 'caballero in plaza.' Fortune presides over the show and allots the parts according to the inconstancy of her caprices." Here, almost at the end of Los Caprichos, Goya points us towards the way to interpret the images he has offered us. ""La fortuna dirige la fiesta y distribuye los papeles segun la inconstancia de sus caprichos." The world is full of caprices: those of the rich and aristocratic and those of the poor and the downtrodden; those of the Inquisition and those of the witches and goblins who are their professed enemies. It would seem to be the task of those viewing Goya's work to awaken their reason and put asides the nightmares of disordered imaginations so that they might learn to see the real monsters: the Inquisition, the rigid power structure of a society that rewards some fools with power and wealth while punishing others with the necessity of entering into unloving unions in attempts to save their families from destitution and themselves from prostitution. Image size: 215x150mm. Price: $2000.
Be quick, they are waking up (Caprichos 78, D. 115, H. 113). Original etching and aquatint, c. 1798. A very good impression from the first edition (300 impressions). Goya comments, "The goblins are the most industrious and obliging people there are. As the maid keeps them happy, they scour the pot, cook the vegetables, wash up, sweep, and hush the child. It has often been disputed whether the are devils or not; don't let us deceive ourselves. Devils are those who spend their time doing harm, or doing harm, or hindering others from doing good, or are doing nothing at all." Thinking back over Los Caprichos, one cannot distinguish an essential difference between the witches sucking the life out of babies, the Inquisition taking the life out of society, and the fools who destroy their own lives and those of others. In Goya's work, the hard-working goblins and the self-sacrificing young women stand in pointed opposition to those who destroy their own happiness by plucking away the joys of others. Image size: 215x150mm.Price: $6000.
Be quick, they are waking up (Caprichos 78, D. 115, H. 113). 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, "The goblins are the most industrious and obliging people there are. As the maid keeps them happy, they scour the pot, cook the vegetables, wash up, sweep, and hush the child. It has often been disputed whether the are devils or not; don't let us deceive ourselves. Devils are those who spend their time doing harm, or doing harm, or hindering others from doing good, or are doing nothing at all." Thinking back over Los Caprichos, one cannot distinguish an essential difference between the witches sucking the life out of babies, the Inquisition taking the life out of society, and the fools who destroy their own lives and those of others. In Goya's work, the hard-working goblins and the self-sacrificing young women stand in pointed opposition to those who destroy their own happiness by plucking away the joys of others. Image size: 215x150mm. Price: $2500.
No one has seen us (Caprichos 79, D. 116, H. 114). Original etching and aquatint, c. 1798. A good impression from the fourth edition. 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, "And what does it matter if the goblins go down to the cellar and have four swigs, if they have been working all night and have left the scullery like gleaming gold." And yet, overseeing the image of the hard-working goblins rewarding themselves for their labors is a smiling Death encouraging them to drink up. Image size: 215x150mm. Price: SOLD.
No one has seen us (Caprichos 79, D. 116, H. 114). 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, "And what does it matter if the goblins go down to the cellar and have four swigs, if they have been working all night and have left the scullery like gleaming gold." And yet, overseeing the image of the hard-working goblins rewarding themselves for their labors is a smiling Death encouraging them to drink up. Image size: 215x150mm. Price: $2500.
It is time (Caprichos 80, D. 117, H. 115). 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, "Then, when dawn threatens, each one goes on his way, Witches, Hobgoblins, apparitions, and phantoms. It is a good thing that these creatures do not allow themselves to be seen except by night and when it is dark! Nobody has been able to find out where they shut themselves up and hide through the day. If anyone could catch a denful of Hobgoblins and were to show it in a cage at 10 o'clock in the morning in the Puerta del Sol, he would need no other inheritance." This final plate calls into question the reality of most of the images we have been presented with since plate 43. If witches, goblins, apparitions, and phantoms are indeed just phantasms, the dreams of a sleeping reason, then the evils portayed externally in the witches are just visualizations of inner evils, the hard-working but foolish goblins will indeed have to confront death in the end, the apparitions are the products of our fantasies, and the phantoms only the afterimages of our own bad dreams. But if we are the source of the evils and follies that infest our world, waking and sleeping, what is the cure? Image size: 215x150mm. Price: $2500.

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