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Prints - Spanish 17th - 19th Century

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Donde vá mama? [Where is Mother Going?], plate 65 from Los Caprichos

1797-1799 (p. 1799)
18th century
28.1 cm x 19.4 cm (11 1/16 in. x 7 5/8 in.)

Francisco de Goya y Lucientes (aka Francisco José de Goya y Lucientes) (Fuendetodos, Spain, 1746 - 1828, Bordeaux, France) Primary

Object Type: print
Artist Nationality: Europe, Spanish
Medium and Support: Etching, aquatint and drypoint
Credit Line: Blanton Museum of Art, The University of Texas at Austin, Gift of Jonathan Bober in honor of Julia and Stephen Wilkinson, 1993
Accession Number: 1993.130

The earliest of Goya’s four major print series by more than decade, the Caprichos were created in 1797-98. Free inventions, thus “caprices,” their eighty plates comment upon the tension between society and the individual, between ideals and realities, between belief and reason. Injustice, hypocrisy, and superstition are Goya’s principal targets; caricature, satire, and sarcasm his favorite weapons. In addition to the printed titles, a manuscript in the Prado Museum purportedly written by Goya elucidates the meaning of individual prints. The imagery of the Caprichos is rich with references, from established iconography to folk literature, songs, and sayings. But the series is above all original in the modern sense: the product of an individual and unfettered imagination. The Caprichos are also the first great demonstration of the expressive possibilities of aquatint, which had previously been used for reproducing the appearance of drawings. First published in 1799 they along with the Tauromaquia were the only series released during the artist’s lifetime. Retaining the plates, the Royal Academy in Madrid issued eleven more editions between 1855 and 1937, making the Caprichos the most widely circulated and best known of Goya’s prints.

Carried away and tormented by her own offspring, a portly witch suffers the same fate as human parents of spoiled and ungrateful children. The Prado manuscript underscores the ironies: “Mother has dropsy and they have sent her on an outing. God willing, she may recover.” This early impression reveals the subtle gradation in the modeling of the mother’s body and touches of drypoint at her elbow.

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