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Last updated: 6/23/2019
Home / Gallery Tour 1 / Old Master Drawings and Prints / Gallery Tour 2 / Artists
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Francisco Goya y Lucientes (Spanish, 1746-1828): Los Disparotos

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
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 two 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), 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).
Bobalicón / Simpleton (Los Disparatos / The Follies, plate 4, Delteil 205, Harris 251). Original etching, burnished aquatint, and drypoint, c. 1819-1823.This impression is from the extremely small 1875 2nd edition of Los Disparatos; the first consisted of 64 sets. Since Los Disparatos was never published during Goya's lifetime, the order of the plates is not certain. Harris suggests that the print alludes to the proverb that if we could see vice,it would terrify us in its ugliness. Sánchez stresses the terror of the man at the left hiding behind a woman and the malicious stupidity of the giant and the ghastly heads howling on his left or glowering on his right. Image size: 245x350mm. Price: SOLD.
Disparate conocido / Well-known fantasy (Los Disparatos / The Follies, plate 19, Delteil 220, Harris 266). Original etching & burnished aquatint,, c. 1819-1823.This impression was not included in the 1875 edition of Los Disparatos. It was first published in the periodical L'Art in 1877, which Harris describes as "clean-wiped" and says that "the earliest are hardly inferior to the working or trial proofs. Our impressions is from this first publication. Since Los Disparatos was never published during Goya's lifetime, the order of the plates is not certain. On the right, two giant figures (one with a sword in his hand) gesture menacingly at a group of huddled figures, all except one of whom are terrified and have not noticed that the figures are scarecrows with wooden feet implanted in the ground. One of them, aware of the unreality of their threat, whose thigh and chest are bathed in light, has lifted up his leg and is farting at them in a gesture of contempt and ridicule. Harris associates this image with the proverb, "Dos à uno, meten la paja en el culo / If two to one, stuff your arse with straw" (presumably to keep from soiling yourself; here, of course, there is no need to fear that). The title accompanying the publication in L'Art and imprinted on our impression is Que guerrero! / What a warrior! There is an unobtrusive tear going from the right margin almost to the edge of the image. Image size: 245x350mm. Price: $3950.
Aveugle enlevé par les cornes d'un taureau / Blind man lifted up on the horns of a bull (Delteil 24, Harris 25 III i/ii). Original etching, aquatint, and drypoint, burin, c. 1800-1808. Goya's title was Dios se lo pague a vstd / May God repay you, suggesting that the blind man does not realize that a bull has caught him and thinks he is being helped by someone whom he cannot see. The look on his face, clearly devoid of any fear, suggests that his mistake is working in his favor. A good impression from the first edition of about 1868 printed by in the Gazette des Beaux-Arts with their name in the lower left corner. Image size: 176x213mm. Price: $2850.
The Little Prisoner: Tan Barbara la Seguridad como el delito / The custody is as barbarous as the crime (Delteil 34, Harris 26). Original etching and burin, c. 1810-1820. A very good impression from the first edition of 1867 printed by Delâtre in the Gazette des Beaux-Arts with the words "Gazette des Beaux-Arts" lower left and "Imp. Delâtre" lower right. Harris describes these as "fine impressions, heavily inked and generally clean-wiped." Image size: 110x85mm. Price: SOLD.
Un enamo / A dwarf (Delteil 18, Harris 15). Original etching and burin after Velasquez, c. 1778. A good impression from the first edition of 1778-79 printed in the Calcografia before the bevel. Harris describes these as "fine, clear impressions, clean-wiped" and notes that the edition appears to have been small. Image size: 205x155mm. Price: $3350.

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