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Prints - Spanish 17th - 19th Century

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Dios la perdone: y era su madre [For Heaven's Sake: And It Was Her Mother], plate 16 from Los Caprichos

1797-1799 (p. 1890-1900)
18th century
34.1 cm x 24.4 cm (13 7/16 in. x 9 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, The Leo Steinberg Collection, 2002
Accession Number: 2002.1424

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 betweensociety 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.

The Prado manuscript explains, “The young woman left her home as a little girl. She did her apprenticeship at Cadiz, she came to Madrid: there she ‘won the lottery’. She goes down to the Prado, and hears a grimy, decrepit old woman begging her for alms; she sends her away, the old woman persists. The fashionable young woman turns round and finds––who would have thought it––that the poor old woman is her mother.”

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