De que mal morira? [Of What Ill Will He Die?], plate 40 from Los Caprichos
30.7 cm x 21.3 cm (12 1/16 in. x 8 3/8 in.)
Francisco de Goya y Lucientes (aka Francisco José de Goya y Lucientes)
(Fuendetodos, Spain, 1746 - 1828, Bordeaux, France)
Medium and Support:
Etching and aquatint
Blanton Museum of Art, The University of Texas at Austin, The Karen G. and Dr. Elgin W. Ware, Jr. Collection, 1998
Goya used irony and satire to explain countless aspects of the human condition in his famous series Los Capricios. Based on Spanish folklore, the precise meaning of many of the images in this series continues to elude scholars. Nonetheless, it is clear that one of the sub-themes of the series concerns donkeys, in their bestial dumbness and proverbial stubbornness, in human roles. In this print, the doctor is the victim of Goya's satiric wit. A donkey, dressed in a contemporary doctor's outfit that includes gentlemen's shoes, sits at the bedside of a patient whose pulse he takes. The patient, whose hand is limp, looks gravely ill and in dire need of a doctor. The patient's loved ones, silhouetted in the background, anxiously await the report of four-legged, medical expert summoned to the sickbed. As the title underscores, it is not clear whether the patient will die from the illness or this doctor's treatment.