Tan bárbara la seguridad como el delito [The Custody is as Barbarous as the Crime] (Little Prisoner)
circa 1814 (p. 1867)
25 cm x 16.8 cm (9 13/16 in. x 6 5/8 in.)
Francisco de Goya y Lucientes (aka Francisco José de Goya y Lucientes)
(Fuendetodos, Spain, 1746 - 1828, Bordeaux, France)
(Paris, France, 1864 – 1938, Paris, France)
Printer, Paris, 1867
Medium and Support:
Etching and burin
Blanton Museum of Art, The University of Texas at Austin, The Leo Steinberg Collection, 2002
Goya began working on his last series of etchings around 1815. When he departed for Bordeaux in 1824, he left twenty-two plates with his son Javier. Eighteen of the plates were published for the first time in Paris in 1864 under the title of Los Proverbios—The Proverbs. The other four plates, which had been separated around 1844, were re-discovered in 1877 and published in the French journal L’Art. Since the word “disparate,” translatable as folly, appears in the captions that Goya himself inscribed on a group of working proofs, the series is alternately called Los Disparates. Their imagery is the most complex and their meaning the most illusive of Goya’s series. The broad themes are still those of the Caprichos, but reason seems to have been completely overwhelmed and the prints are full of nightmarish visions.
The Little Prisoner is one of three small etchings of single figures, faceless and perfectly hopeless in their confinement. Ostensibly separate from a larger series, they resemble the Desastres de la Guerra in spirit and technique. In at least one instance, working proofs of the Prisoners and the Desastres were bound together in an album, demonstrating that Goya himself saw them as related.