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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 31-36

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.

"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).
She prays for her (Caprichos 31, Delteil 68, Harris 66). Original etching and aquatint, c. 1798. Excellent impression from the first edition ( c. 1798). There were about 300 impressions in the first edition. Goya wrote, "And she did well to do so . . . that God may give her luck, keep her from harm, moneylenders, and cops . . . make her skillful and careful, wide-awake, and ready as her sainted mother." R. S. Johnson notes that the Ayala text of 1799-1802 clarifies the status of her "sainted mother" by specifying that the old woman, a procuress, is the mother in question, praying on her rosary for her daughter's safety in a dangerous world. One of the most moving images in the Caprichos, this work stresses the moral and spiritual degradation of the world in which the purchasers of the first edition lived, a world in which mothers pimped out their daughters to keep the whole family from starving, hoping to catch a rich man who could protect their whole family and that their daughters could live a better life than they. A very rich impression on laid paper. Image size: 215x150mm. Price: $6000.
She prays for her (Caprichos 31, Delteil 68ii/iii, Harris 66). Original etching and aquatint, c. 1798. Excellent impression from the second edition ( c. 1855). There were about 300 impressions in the first edition. Harris says that the second is very small. Goya wrote, "And she did well to do so . . . that God may give her luck, keep her from harm, moneylenders, and cops . . . make her skillful and careful, wide-awake, and ready as her sainted mother." R. S. Johnson notes that the Ayala text of 1799-1802 clarifies the status of her "sainted mother" by specifying that the old woman, a procuress, is the mother in question, praying on her rosary for her daughter's safety in a dangerous world. Image size: 215x150mm. Price: $5000.
She prays for her (Caprichos 31, Delteil 68ii/iii, Harris 66). 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. Image size: 215x150mm. Price: $4000.
Because she was susceptible (Caprichos 32, D. 69 H. 67). Original etching and aquatint, c. 1798. A very good impression from the sixth edition (230 impressions, which is better printed than the fifth). There were about 610 impressions in the first five editions. Goya comments, "This was to be expected. The world has its ups and downs and the life she led has no other end." An early commentator said, "Reckless girls end up giving birth in prison because they were too susceptible of being influenced." Image size: 215x150mm. Price: SOLD.
To the Count Palatine (Caprichos 33, D. 70, H. 68). Original etching and aquatint, c. 1798. Very good impression from the first edition. Goya comments, "In all sciences there are people who know everything without having learned anything and have a ready remedy for all ills. One can't believe what they say. The really intelligent person distrusts them. The educated person makes moderate promises and keeps much in reserve. The Count Palatine never keeps any promises at all." The Ayala text talks about charlatans who pull out jawbones on feigned medical necessity; here the onlookers respond to the procedure with violent vomiting. For all students of the history of dentistry. Image size: 215x150mm. Price: $6000.
To the Count Palatine (Caprichos 33, D. 70, H. 68). 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, "In all sciences there are people who know everything without having learned anything and have a ready remedy for all ills. One can't believe what they say. The really intelligent person distrusts them. The educated person makes moderate promises and keeps much in reserve. The Count Palatine never keeps any promises at all." Image size: 215x150mm. Price: SOLD
Sleep overcomes them (Caprichos 34, D. 71 H. 69). 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, "Don't wake them! Sleep is perhaps the only consolation of the wretched." Image size: 215x150mm. Price: SOLD.
She fleeces him (Caprichos 35, D. 72 H. 70). 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, "They shave him close and fleece him. It is his own fault for putting himself in the hands of such a barber." Image size: 215x150mm. Price: $2500.
A bad night (Caprichos 36, D. 73, H. 71). 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, "Gadabout girls who don't want to stay at home risk exposing themselves to these hardships." An early commentator was more pointed: "It is a bad night for business when not money but the wind raises the skirts of young girls." Image size: 215x150mm. Price: SOLD.

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