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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): The Disasters of War 44-53

Goya’s Caprichos etchings (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
Robert Hughes, whose The Shock of the New introduced America to modern art when it was aired on public television and whose American Visions, a survey of American Art up to the from the Spanish invaders of the southwest and the Pilgrims in New England to Abstract Expressionism and Pop Art, tells us in the opening pages of his Goya (2003) that in the midst of the Vietnam War, which tore America apart for many years, "there was nothing, absolutely nothing, that came near the achievement of Goya's Desastres de la guerra (Disasters of War), those heart-rending prints in which the artist bore witness to the almost unspeakable facts of death in the Spanish uprising against Napoleon, and, in doing so became the first modern visual reporter on warfare" (p. 7). Otto Dix's Krieg, the twentieth-century's witness to the horror of war, almost pales (although it is horrible enough to look at in itself) before Goya's depiction of the early nineteenth century's horrors of war, both civil and uncivil, between atrocities perpetrated on Spaniards by Spaniards and atrocities perpetrated by the French upon the Spanish (and vice-versa). Hughes suggests (p. 273) that "very broadly, the images fall into three groups. Forty-six plates, 2 through 47, describe incidents of guerilla war, the Spanish pueblo against Napoleon's soldiers. Eighteen more, 48 through 65, are concerned with the effects of the great famine that devastated Madrid between 1811 and 1812—a famine that Goya, living in the city, experienced too, and whose effects he saw at first hand. And then there are the Caprichos enfáticos, or 'emphatic caprices'—a run of fifteen allegorical and satirical images rather than journalistic reportage, that attack what one might call the disasters of peace—evoking the shattered hopes of the Spanish liberals and illustrados in the wake of Napoleon's defeat after Fernando VII returned to the throne, abolished the 1512 Constitution, and set in train an iron policy of repression, censorship, inquisitorial tyranny, and royal absolutism."

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), Daniuel Catton RIch, ed. The Art of Goya: Paintings, Drawings, and Prints (Chicago: The Art Institute, 1941), 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 raisonnés of Goya's prints by Loys Delteil and Tomás Harris are both out of print but should be available in major libraries and in museums; there is a reprint of the Harris published by Alan Wofsy in 1983 which we have used throughout. We follow Harris in our descriptions of the editions, for which see volume 2, pages 172-176, and the individual prints (pp. 177-304). Los Desastres de la Guerra was not published during Goya's lifetime because he would have been called before the Inquisition, from whence few returned. Harris briefly discusses the 472 trial proofs printed before Goya's death and then summarizes the quality of the various editions. Generally, the first edition published in 1863 for the Real (i.e., Royal) Academia in an edition of 500, is by far the best, though the first 300 or so are of much higher quality than the remaining pieces, where "the tone of the ink is darkened to compensate for the wear of the aquatint" (pp. 173-74). The second edition was published by the Real Academía (as were all later ones) in 1892 in an edition of 100; Harris says that the plates were probably steel-faced before the making of this edition (p. 174). The third edition was published in 1903 in an edition of 100, which Harris describes as "very inferior to the second). The fourth edition was published by the Real Academía in 1906 in an edition of 275. Harris describes it as "excellently printed on very suitable papers" and says that "the impressions are generally a little inferior to those of the second edition but are better than those of the third." The fifth edition, which Harris describes as "inferior to all previous ones" was published by the Real Academía om 1923 in an edition of 100. Harris attributes the problems to over-inking and the very hard quality of the paper. The sixth edition was made in 1930 the for the Real Academía; Harris describes it as "little inferior to the second edition and superior to the third. The seventh and last edition was made in 1937 the for the the Ministerio de Instrucción Publica in 1937, during the Spanish Civil War. Five sets were printed on Old Japan paper, of which three were dedicated to Stalin, Eleanor Roosevelt, and the Republican President, Azana, leaving two sets unaccounted for. 15 sets on Imperial Japan paper were published in a parchment portfolio, and 130 sets on Arches paper were were also published. Harris says, "This edition is remarkably good and the impressions are the best taken from the plates after the second edition. We acquired a complete set of the fourth edition a number of years ago, and most of our impressions are from that edition. We have also had several impressions from the first edition (one of which is still available). We find it close in quality to the impression of the same piece from the fourth edition. We also have one impression from the third edition, which is seriously deficient when compared to the same work from the 4th edition. In 1988 were were fortunate to see an exhibition of all of Goya's prints in the Guttenberg Museum in Mainz (an outing for the faculty of the English Department at the University of Giessen, where I taught for the summer session. They displayed impressions of Los Desastres from the fourth edition. We were also lucky enough to see an exhibition of Los Desastres at the University of Iowa Art Museum several year later (I think; it might have been at Iowa State University). It was also composed of impressions from the fourth edition. These two exhibition, of course, made us feel quite pleased when we acquired our own complete set of Los Desastres in the fourth edition.

The most convenient reproduction of The Disasters of War is the edition published by Dover Books in 1967 with a very short introduction by Philip Hofer of the Department of Graphic Arts at the Harvard University Library. Also likely to be available inexpensively in used condition: 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), ). 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), R. Stanley Johnson, Goya: Los Caprichos (Chicago: R.S. Johnson, 1992; Johnson usefully cites remarks of an early commentator on Goya's Caprichos 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).
Yo lo vi / I saw it (Disasters, plate 44, Harris 164, Delteil 163). Original etching, drypoint, and burin, c. 1808-1814. Signed "Goya" lower left corner. After the first edition, the plates were probably steel-faced and consequently do not degrade as quickly as they otherwise might. Our impression is from the 4th edition (1906) published from Goya's original plates in the Royal Academy in San Fernando, Spain. Harris notes that in the 2nd to 7th editions, the plate is in fair condition and the burin work stands out strongly while the etching deteriorates slightly. Goya is back in direct observer mode, giving us his witness. Illustrated Hughes, p. 274, Licht p. 131. Image size: 160x235mm. Price: $3000.
Y esto tambien / And this too (Disasters, pl. 45, Harris 165, Delteil 164). Original etching, aquatint or lavis, drypoint, and burin, c. 1808-1814. After the first edition, the plates were probably steel-faced and consequently do not degrade as quickly as they otherwise might. Our impression is from the 4th edition (1906) published from Goya's original plates in the Royal Academy in San Fernando, Spain. A mixed group of well-dressed women carrying their children followed by a heavily-laden servant and accompanied by a pig are moving from right to left across the foreground; in the background, a larger group of peasants, some visibly terrified are huddled. Harris notes that in the 2nd to 7th editions, the plate is in fair condition; he also notes that as the editions progress, "the defects in the plate become more apparent" though "the etching prints very well throughout." Illustrated Hughes, p. 274. Ours is a very strong impression. Image size: 155x205mm. Price: $2500.
Esto es malo / This is bad (Disasters, pl. 46, Harris 166, Delteil 165). Original etching, burnished aquatint, drypoint, burin, and burnisher, c. 1808-1814. After the first edition, the plates were probably steel-faced and consequently do not degrade as quickly as they otherwise might. Our impression is from the 4th edition (1906) published from Goya's original plates in the Royal Academy in San Fernando, Spain. Harris notes that in the 2nd to 7th editions, the plate is in fair condition; he also notes that as the editions progress, "the defects in the plate become more apparent" though "the etching prints very well throughout." A soldier has just pushed his sword through a monk whose arms are outflung in prayer; behind him, another of his order lies dead; behind them both, two more soldiers look on. This is indeed bad! Image size: 155x205mm. Price: $2500.
Asi sucedió / This is how it happened (Disasters, pl. 47, Harris 167, Delteil 166). Original etching, burnished lavis, drypoint, burin, and burnisher, c. 1808-1814. After the first edition, the plates were probably steel-faced and consequently do not degrade as quickly as they otherwise might. Our impression is from the 4th edition (1906) published from Goya's original plates in the Royal Academy in San Fernando, Spain. Harris notes that in the 2nd to 7th editions, the plate is in fair condition; he also notes that as the editions progress, "the defects in the plate become more apparent" though "the etching prints very well throughout." A soldier, his arms loaded with spoil in the form of crucifies, candlesticks, and other church furniture—presumably silver—is exiting; a priest, doubled over on the floor, either from grief at the theft of the holy objects entrusted to his care or from having been stabbed. Such are the spoils of war, such the private victories and defeats. Image size: 155x205mm. Price: $2500.
Cruel lástima / A cruel tale of woe ( pl. 48, Harris 168, Delteil 167). Original etching, burnished aquatint, burin, and burnisher, c. 1808-1814. Harris notes that "a very defective and pitted plate was used." he also notes that "a weak lavis appears to have been applied over the whole plate with the exception of the figures and then reinforced with a much stronger tone on the upper part of the sky and the foreground. Our impression presents the figures (dead and alive) very strongly; the sky, however, is split into two areas: very dark at top, much weaker below, and with an irregular division between them. The woman holding the child is not in the drawing for the engraving and appears to have been added in the course of the work."Harris describes the plate in the first edition as "good," but Harris notes that in the 2nd to 7th editions, the plate [is] in poor condition. Our impression is from the 4th edition (1906) published from Goya's original plates in the Royal Academy in San Fernando, Spain. A family trying to escape the slaughter comes upon another one who failed: two men, a woman, and a baby lie crumpled on the ground. A standing man gestures toward them with his hat while a woman holds (or nurses) a child just in front of the standing man (her husband?). Image size: 155x205mm. Price: $2000.
Caridad de una muger / A woman's charity ( pl. 49, Harris 169, Delteil 168). Original etching, lavis, burin, and burnisher, c. 1808-1814. After the first edition, the plates were probably steel-faced and consequently do not degrade as quickly as they otherwise might. Our impression is from the 4th edition (1906) published from Goya's original plates in the Royal Academy in San Fernando, Spain. A man lies on the ground, too exhausted even to eat. His wife and their child (we assumes) are eating hungrily. The charitable woman, whom we see from the rear, holds a tray with a bowl on it. In the background, a women and a very large man, both clad in black, watch approvingly. Again. Harris notes that in the 2nd to 7th editions, the plate is in fair condition: the lavis weakens considerably but just holds to the end. The highlights lose their contrasts and the burnishing marks disappear. " He also notes that "the etching prints very well throughout, except where it was over-bitten on the two right hand figures." On our impression, the etched work and the burin work are still very strong and sharp and the range from the light colors of the figures left of center to the very black clothes of the two standing figures at right. Ours is a very good impression, still quite strong, and very effective.. Image size: 155x205mm. Price: $2500.
Madre infeliz! / Unhappy mother! (Disasters of War, plate 50, Harris 170, Delteil 169). Original etching, burnished aquatint, and drypoint, c. 1808-1814. After the first edition, the plates were probably steel-faced and consequently do not degrade as quickly as they otherwise might. Our impression is from the 4th edition (1906) published from Goya's original plates in the Royal Academy in San Fernando, Spain. 3 men carry a dead woman; a weeping child follows behind. To the left of the procession in the background lies a person (gender undefined), hands clasped upon the head, which is face-down in the dirt. Grieving husband? An anonymous corpse?Except that it is highlighted by the light on its back, we would barely see it, but there it is. Harris notes that in the 2nd to 7th editions, the plate is in fair condition, though, once again, ours seems better than fair: strong contrasts, sharp lines, and a full range of tones from pure black (in the hats) to pure white (in the clothes of the mourners and in the light on the back of the figure on the ground left rear. Illustrated Hughes, p. 298, who notes (pp. 298-99) that this trio of men carrying off a helpless woman appear other places in other contexts where the result will be abduction, rape, and murder. Not here: "Here, however, they are emissaries of pity—it is too late for charity. And to the right of them is one of the most heart-rending figures in all of Goya's works: the little bereaved daughter, screwing her small fists into her eyes as she sobs. The space between her and her lost mother is a truly psychic space, a separating gulf of darkness that can now never be bridged, a darkness that seems to be the very essence of loss and orphanhood. It is part of the measure of Goya's power that he could take essentially the same group and invest it with different meanings, each of the most intensity, each time he used it. He quoted himself, new every time." Image size: 155x205mm. Price: $3500.
Gracias á la almorta / Thanks for the millet (Disasters of War, plate 51, Harris 171, Delteil 170). Original etching and burnished aquatint, c. 1808-1814. After the first edition, the plates were probably steel-faced and consequently do not degrade as quickly as they otherwise might. Our impression is from the 4th edition (1906) published from Goya's original plates in the Royal Academy in San Fernando, Spain. The tonal range in the piece goes from pure black to pure white. Harris notes that "some defects in the plate are concealed by aquatint which was applied over the entire plate with the exception of the three heads outlined against he sky and the head immediately below the hood of the old woman to the right. The coarse ground was burnished to produce a great variety of tones and to suggest a turreted castle against the light in the sky." The action in this piece seems circular. At right, the woman with the white shawl is pouring some liquid into the bowl held by the woman in black directly to her right; the woman in white reclining in the foreground with her elbow over the sack of millet is handing a plate toward the raggedy woman in the white cloak to her left rear. The bearded man next to her, already has a bowl in his hands, and the man in the black hat seems to preside over the scene. However, what are we to think about the three figures in the near and far left planes? The two nearest the food are looking at the women in front with great interest; the woman in the left rear, separated from the others by a barrier of some sort, is looking down, not back at the others with the food and she seems unaware or uninterested in the acts of charity in the foreground. In the sky, there is light above those involved in the circulation of the millet, but darkness in the sky to the left over the woman who has no food. Image size: 155x205mm. Price: $2500.
No llegan á tiempo / They do not arrive in time (Disasters of War, plate 52, Harris 172, Delteil 171). Original etching, lavis, drypoint, and burin, c. 1808-1814. According to Harris, the plate is in "good condition" during the first edition, and in fair condition from the second to seventh editions, when "the etching deteriorates considerably in the over-bitten areas of the women's heads, but otherwise prints well throughout." After the first edition, the plates were probably steel-faced and consequently do not degrade as quickly as they otherwise might. Our impression is from the 4th edition (1906) published from Goya's original plates in the Royal Academy in San Fernando, Spain. The title seeems to tell the whole story: those who might have helped had they arrived earlier are too late: the woman in the foreground will not rise again nor will her apparently male companion in the background upper right. Harris notes that this is a "famine scene," and since there are no visible wounds, it would seem to follow the attempts in some of the immediately preceding plates to feed the hungry were not successful. Illustrated Chabron, p. 177. Image size: 155x205mm. Price: $2500.
Espiró sin remedio / There was nothing to be done and he died (Disasters of War, plate 53, Harris 173, Delteil 172). Original etching, burnished aquatint, lavis, burin and burnisher, c. 1808-1814. Harris notes that the "plate is in good condition" for the first edition and "fair" in the the 2nd to 7th editions: the aquatint weakens considerable, especially n the burnished areas. The highlights retain most of their contrast." After the first edition, the plates were probably steel-faced and consequently do not degrade as quickly as they otherwise might. Our impression is from the 4th edition (1906) published from Goya's original plates in the Royal Academy in San Fernando, Spain. Once again, we see a famine scene with its fatal consequences. In the background far left, there appear to be a heap of corpses; the action in the foreground will add another to the pile. Collectively, these scenes are beginning to show that man's inhumanity to man can be augmented by nature's inhumanity: there is no mourning for deaths in nature; should it be the same among humans? Perhaps, but we are not there yet: the man in the white cloak left of center seems to be gently consoling the man lifting the almost invisible corpse; the woman to the right seems t be comforted a bereaved man to her right as the body begins to be moved. Image size: 155x205mm. Price: $2500.

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