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Not Only The Sleep of Reason: Graphics by Francisco Goya

  2 
Why did Goya translate Velázquez from painting to graphics? What circumstances made the artist a misanthrope who created Los Caprichos, Desastres and Disparates? Why can Goya become an outcast on social media (hint: ageism and violent scenes)? And why, after all, Goya’s graphics are more reliable evidence of his affair with the Duchess of Alba than painting?
Not Only The Sleep of Reason: Graphics by Francisco Goya

Following Velázquez: Goya seeking his way

It is believed that the first truly original graphic works of Goya were Los Caprichos created in the 1790s. However, Goya began to look for his own style 20 years earlier, in the 1770s. At this time, he was an artist of the royal tapestry manufactory, made careful (maybe slightly exaggerated) graphic copies of paintings by Diego Velázquez "for himself".

Why did he do it? Unlike many artists, Goya almost never theorized about art — his or anyone else’s. By nature, he was a practitioner and liked to repeat that he only recognized three teachers: Rembrandt, nature and Velázquez. Obviously, these were his universities.
The themes that Goya feels as his own, performing graphic studies by Velázquez, are royal images and sharp, almost grotesque portraits. Both will come in handy more than once in his career.

The very career of Velázquez, who followed his way from the royal chamberlain to the quartermaster of the royal chambers and the main artist of the Spanish crown, at first seemed very attractive to Goya. In his youth, he consciously and consistently sought to ingratiate himself with the courtyard. And when, after many efforts, he received the title of court artist, he noted with satisfaction: well, now I am just like Velázquez!

The Álbum de Sanlúcar: Irrefutable Testimony

Goya’s romance with Duchess Cayetana Alba is not as accurate as the fiction assures us. Of course, Feuchtwanger’s novel Goya or the Hard Path of Knowledge and feature films about Goya are based on the love line of Goya, Alba. But these are a movie and a book. Science, on the other hand, sometimes doubts that a love story could really arise between people as dissimilar as the artist and the duchess.

Goya was a baturro on his paternal side — in fact, a commoner, and the titles of María del Pilar Teresa Cayetana de Silva-Álvarez de Toledo y Silva-Bazán, Duchess of Alba took up half a page when written. Moreover, Goya was 20 years older. Middle-aged, heavy-tempered and completely deaf. It is unlikely, say those who question the very fact of the romance, that he could interest the widowed duchess who was always surrounded by admirers.

Skeptics have reasons: neither letters nor memoirs give sufficient grounds to say that the love affair between Goya and Alba really was.

However, on the picturesque portrait of Alba (under the feet of the duchess), the inscription ‘solo

However, on the picturesque portrait of Alba (under the feet of the duchess), the inscription ‘solo Goya' (‘only Goya') was found. But this ground is rather shaky for assertions. Perhaps this inscription is written later? And if not, perhaps it means something like "only Goya is the consummate master, whose brush is worthy to paint a magnificent duchess"?

Among this uncertainty, the central proof that a spark really flashed between Goya and Alba is not painting, but Goya’s small sketchbook called the Álbum de Sanlúcar.
Francisco Goya. Love couple
Love couple
1819, 9.1×17.5 cm
In the spring of 1796, Francisco Goya, who had just turned 50, took an album with excellent coated paper and gilt edging, arrived in the town of Sanlúcar de Barrameda near Cádiz. What for? Certainly not for open air painting. There, after the sudden death of her husband, the Duchess of Alba retired to the family estate. Apparently, she did not want the court to observe her mourning befitting her position — the brilliant duchess had enough spiteful critics. It is quite reliable and confirmed by Goya’s letters that they communicated with the Duchess.

The artist did not stop painting. His album was so small (17.2 by 10.1 cm) that only one or two figures fit on a piece of paper. And often it was the figure of the duchess — or, to put it more carefully, someone extremely similar. In any case, a woman with a dark-skinned child on her knees is considered an indisputable portrait of Alba, the eccentric duchess took in little Maria de la Luz, whose parents were slaves; she became very attached to her and even left the girl an annuity in her will.
The Sanlúcar Album is a kind of intimate diary. Goya sketched Alba in different poses and angles, with pencil and ink, naked and in Maja clothing. There are sketches similar to Alba in another Goya’s album, the Madrid one.
For example, what is she doing on this sketch? Is she drying and styling her wet hair? Or starting h

For example, what is she doing on this sketch? Is she drying and styling her wet hair? Or starting her favourite folk dance, shaking her bust hardly restrained with the corset? Clutching her head, she exclaims: "Blessed Virgin, why did Heaven send me this deaf jealous man?!" Maybe she just casts a spell for hair growth against the growing moon — for some reason, Goya portrayed her flying at night with witches.
On the side of the drawing is Goya’s note: "She is tearing her hair and stomping her feet because Abbot Pichurris told her she looked pale." There is so much admiration and tender irony in these letters that it is really easy to use it for a script, a romance, and a myth.

Los Caprichos: satire on thin ice

"Until the age of forty, Goya was a strong man, temperamental, sometimes unpredictable, he was a gre

"Until the age of forty, Goya was a strong man, temperamental, sometimes unpredictable, he was a great lover of thrills, chocolate and partridge hunting," wrote art critic Pierre Gassier.

But why only until forty? And then what happened?

In the autumn of 1792, the 46-year-old artist leaves Madrid and travels to Seville. He takes off so suddenly that he doesn’t even bother to get permission from the king, his employer. Goya’s friends have to quickly sort out this difficult situation. And even now, this episode in Goya’s life remains one of the most mysterious ones. It is unclear what drove him away from the capital?

However, the fugitive did not make it to Seville. Feeling unwell, Goya stayed with his friend Martinez in Cádiz. The malaise, which began only with a "bad mood" and monstrous irritability progressed — severe headaches, tinnitus, darkening of the eyes and loss of coordination persisted. Goya lost the use of his right arm and got muscle cramps.

What was it? Diagnoses (viral meningitis, lead poisoning, complications of chronic syphilis, etc.) are only hypotheses for which there is insufficient data. But overall, Goya’s disease remains a medical mystery. It is known to have taken a long time to recover. The arm paralysis, fortunately, was temporary.

But something no less terrible happened: Goya became completely deaf.

Francisco Goya. Self-portrait
Self-portrait
1797, 15.3×9.1 cm
Deafness remained for the whole life. He had to painfully restore the connection between himself and the world, learn to read someone else’s speech on the lips and communicate through notes and drawings.

It was a disaster. His former life was as if shamelessly kidnapped, thrown upside down, like the character of the etching
The first known etched boards date from the early 16th century. Etching (fr. eau-forte — strong water, aquafortis, nitric acid) is the main technique of gravure printing easel graphics, which suggests the image to be etched with acid on the surface of a metal plate. From a technological aspect, etching is the opposite of a carving. Read more
of the same name.
Francisco Goya. "She's been kidnapped!" (Series "Caprichos", page 8)
1799, 23.2×17.5 cm
The crisis he experienced changed Goya and his work. It has become more gloomy, phantasmagoric, mysterious. And misanthropic.

It’s not just the disease. Remember that the relationship with Alba, full of jealousy and a consciousness of class inequality, did not add love to people either. In addition, Goya worked on the decoration of the palace of the upstart Manuel Godoy, the queen’s lover who usurped power in Spain — it is also a fair reason to be disappointed in humanity.

The logical end of this difficult life stage was Los Caprichos, the most famous series of etchings by Goya about how the sleep of reason produces monsters.
Francisco Goya. The sleep of reason produces monsters (from the series Los Caprichos, sheet 43)
Francisco Goya. A series of "Caprichos", sheet 51: Primping
1797, 21.5×15 cm
Francisco Goya. A series of "Caprichos", page 69: Er
1799, 21.5×15 cm
Francisco Goya. Series Los Caprichos, sheet 54: Bashful
Francisco Goya. Series "Caprichos," sheet 79: no one saw Us
1799, 21.5×15.2 cm
Francisco Goya. A series of "Caprichos", page 74: don't scream, you fool!
1797, 21.5×15 cm
Francisco Goya. Skull
1799, 21.8×15.3 cm
Francisco Goya. Donkey
1799, 21.5×15 cm
Francisco Goya. "It is time!" (Series "Caprichos", page 80)
1799, 21.8×15.1 cm
Francisco Goya. "Family tree" (a Series of "Caprichos", page 57)
1799, 21.5×15.5 cm
Francisco Goya. A series of "Caprichos", page 53: What Chrysostom!
1799, 21.5×15 cm
Francisco Goya. "Hurry up, they already Wake up" (Series "Caprichos", page 78)
1797, 21.5×15 cm
Francisco Goya. "From the dust..." (from the Series "Caprichos", page 23)
1799, 21.5×15 cm
Francisco Goya. A series of "Caprichos", page 72: You won't escape
1799, 21.2×14.9 cm
It is even difficult to say right off the bat who Goya spared. In Caprichos, he ridiculed the Spanish grandees and the Holy Inquisition, dissolute men and corrupt women, old women trying to look young and hypocritical bishops, soppy boys and unfaithful wives. He was so nipping, inventive and acidy in his satire that sometimes all his work seemed to be started not to correct morals (which Goya’s enlightenment friends dreamed of), but not to get poisoned with his own poison, to splash it out.
Interestingly, the ink drawing, preparatory to The Sleep of Reason Produces Monsters engraving (1797
Interestingly, the ink drawing, preparatory to The Sleep of Reason Produces Monsters engraving
Along with monotypy, lithography belongs to the group of flat printing techniques, but this is where their similarities seem to end. Lithography appeared in 1796 or 1798, thanks to Johann Alois Senefelder, a typographer from Munich. Initially, they took an imprint from a drawing on a stone slab, usually limestone, which gave the name for the method (ancient Greek λίθος “stone” + γράφω “I write, draw”). Nowadays, instead of lithographic stone, zinc or aluminum plates are used, which are easier to process. Read more
(1797), contains a self-portrait of Goya.
The name of sheet no. 50 of Los Caprichos is translated differently: Marmots, Hamsters, Sloths, alth

The name of sheet no. 50 of Los Caprichos is translated differently: Marmots, Hamsters, Sloths, although Goya called this etching Los Chinchillas. But animals are not depicted here. More precisely, not quite. We see two anthropoid creatures that may resemble the characters of some fantastic cartoons. Their eyes are closed voluntarily, and there are also padlocks on their ears, but they willingly open their mouths to absorb the brew given them by someone with a blindfold and donkey ears. Goya’s comment: "Those who do not want to know, see or hear anything belong to a large family of chinchillas (sloths, marmots, hamsters) who have never been useful for anything." But Goya could not know anything about such phenomena of the modern world as, for example, television propaganda or network "hamsters"!

Francisco Goya. A series of "Caprichos", page 55: To the death
1799, 21.5×15 cm
Francisco Goya. Struggle
1799, 22×15 cm
Francisco Goya. Series "Caprichos," sheet 68: Nice teacher!
1797, 30.6×20.1 cm
Francisco Goya. "Thin spun" (Series "Caprichos", page 44)
1799, 21.5×14.9 cm
Francisco Goya. "Hurry up, they already Wake up" (Series "Caprichos", page 78)
1797, 21.5×15 cm
Francisco Goya. A series of "Caprichos", page 66: come on, take it easy!
1799, 21.5×15 cm
Francisco Goya. Series "Caprichos," sheet 62: Incredible!
1797, 21.5×15 cm
Francisco Goya. "They took off" (Series "Caprichos", page 61)
1799, 23.2×17.5 cm
Francisco Goya. "He stretched" (Series "Caprichos", page 17)
1798, 24.9×15 cm
Francisco Goya. The old lady and her fan
One of the cross-cutting themes of Los Caprichos is unpleasant pictures of old women, which is unlikely to find a response in our realities. Ageism is now more and more often publicly condemned and, perhaps, the day is not far off when Goya’s works will be banned on the social media as a visual analogue of hate speech. Nevertheless, this topic is important for Goya. In Los Caprichos, he makes fun of young old women (Until Death) and old pimps. Well, witches are one of the favourite characters of his ancestral Basque mythology.
Along with owls, donkeys can be considered the trademark of Los Caprichos.
1799, 21.5×15.5 cm
Along with owls, donkeys can be considered the trademark of Los Caprichos.
1799, 21.5×15 cm
Along with owls, donkeys can be considered the trademark of Los Caprichos.
1799, 29.5×20.9 cm
Along with owls, donkeys can be considered the trademark of Los Caprichos.
1799, 21.5×15 cm
Along with owls, donkeys can be considered the trademark of Los Caprichos.
1799, 21.5×15.5 cm
Along with owls, donkeys can be considered the trademark of Los Caprichos.
1798, 21.7×15.2 cm
Along with owls, donkeys can be considered the trademark of Los Caprichos.
1799, 18.6×12.2 cm
Along with owls, donkeys can be considered the trademark of Los Caprichos.
The Catholic Church was one of the main targets of Goya’s criticism.
In the What a Tailor Can Do! etching, Goya depicts a crowd that, according to art critic Tatyana Kap

In the What a Tailor Can Do! etching, Goya depicts a crowd that, according to art critic Tatyana Kaptereva, "bow in fear before the formidable figure of a monk advancing on them, but this is just an empty cassock, put on a dry tree…, from the folds of the hood an eerie face of a ghost, formed by a pattern of tree bark, appears, vile creatures riding bats flock to him from the empty space of the bright sky".

It would be naive to think that the Church would leave these attacks unanswered. Goya put Los Caprichos up for sale in February 1799, but after two weeks withdrew them, as reliable rumours said: the artist must prepare for the worst. Goya could hardly get anything for his prints, it was a financial ruin. He lived in an unpleasant anticipation of reprisals from the Inquisition for a long time, until three years later he came up with a witty trick. Goya presented all his unsold copies and the original engraving
Along with monotypy, lithography belongs to the group of flat printing techniques, but this is where their similarities seem to end. Lithography appeared in 1796 or 1798, thanks to Johann Alois Senefelder, a typographer from Munich. Initially, they took an imprint from a drawing on a stone slab, usually limestone, which gave the name for the method (ancient Greek λίθος “stone” + γράφω “I write, draw”). Nowadays, instead of lithographic stone, zinc or aluminum plates are used, which are easier to process. Read more
plates to the king as a gift. The king thus became the guarantor that the artist would not be punished. He even emotionally promised to pay a pension to Goya’s son Javier.

Desastres (The Disasters of War)

Under one of the sheets of Desastres de la Guerra, Goya wrote the succinct famous: "I saw it".

Spain, drained of blood by the civil war and the mediocre corruption rule of the Bourbons, fought for independence with Napoleonic France for six turbulent years. The temperament of Goya leaves no doubt: he was not a passive contemplator, although at that time he was already completely deaf and could not hear the guns firing and the shells exploding. Having learnt about the heroic defense of Zaragoza, led by Don José Palafox, Duke of Zaragoza, Goya personally rushed to Zaragoza and was under siege there — fortunately, not for long. And when the main pot of military operations moved to Madrid, he hurried there again. There is a legend that Goya watched the execution of the rebels directly from the roof of his house. The documents do not confirm this fact, but the myth turned out to be stronger than reality, the viewer is often sure that Goya was personally present at all military events.

Goya’s attitude to the French was not unambiguous, and this will be multiply reproached for him. He clearly sympathized with the liberal policies of Joseph Bonaparte (Napoleon's brother, whom he made king of Spain) and at the same time could not help but empathize with the Spaniards.

Goya wrote about the destroyed Zaragoza: "Seeing the ruins of the city, I began to study them in order to create paintings glorifying the city dwellers, I do not deny the enormous interest that arose in me for the glory of my fatherland."
One of the most famous engravings in The Disasters of War series celebrates Mary Augustine of Aragon
One of the most famous engravings in The Disasters of War series celebrates Mary Augustine of Aragon, a national heroine who fought against France, nicknamed the Spanish Jeanne d’Arc. Since Goya himself was a native of Zaragoza, the courage of Maria Augustina, who handled the artillery with her own hands, admired him so much that in the series of unnamed characters in The Disasters of War she became the only heroine with a name.
The What Courage! engraving
Along with monotypy, lithography belongs to the group of flat printing techniques, but this is where their similarities seem to end. Lithography appeared in 1796 or 1798, thanks to Johann Alois Senefelder, a typographer from Munich. Initially, they took an imprint from a drawing on a stone slab, usually limestone, which gave the name for the method (ancient Greek λίθος “stone” + γράφω “I write, draw”). Nowadays, instead of lithographic stone, zinc or aluminum plates are used, which are easier to process. Read more
with Augustine of Aragon is one of the few, if not the only, where the war is shown in a heroic and pathetic vein. In all other cases, Goya showed its horror and blood.

The Disasters of War is considered the pinnacle of the artist’s realism
Realism (from late Latin reālis — “real”) is considered to be the beginning in the development of modern art. In a strict sense, “realism” is an art movement that faithfully and objectively reproduces reality in all its details, regardless of how beautiful are the objects in the picture. Read more
. They are painful to watch even today after the experience of dehumanizing art in the twentieth century. Goya is sometimes physiological, like a pathologist. He depicted executions, fires, looting, rape, hunger, corpses lying side by side (Pile of Bodies, The Same Elsewhere). People get shot, stabbed, chopped with axes and thrown off cliffs. The victims of the war are not only the military, but also children, women and the elderly.
Francisco Goya. The series "disasters of war", page 30: casualties of war
1814, 15.5×20.5 cm
Francisco Goya. The series "disasters of war", page 28: Mobile
1814, 17.4×21.5 cm
Francisco Goya. The series "disasters of war", page 14: latest Serious way
1814, 15.6×16.5 cm
Francisco Goya. The series "disasters of war", page 46: Bad
1814, 15.5×20.3 cm
Francisco Goya. The series "disasters of war", page 23: So everywhere
1814, 15.8×24.1 cm
Francisco Goya. The series "disasters of war", sheet 09: She doesn't want!
1814, 15.5×20.9 cm
Francisco Goya. The series "disasters of war", page 38: the barbarians!
1814, 15.5×20.5 cm
Francisco Goya. The series "disasters of war", page 54: the Complaint in vain
1814, 15.2×20.3 cm
Francisco Goya. The series "disasters of war", page 27: Mercy
1814, 15.8×23.5 cm
Francisco Goya. The series "disasters of war", page 63: Pile of bodies
1814, 15.6×20.3 cm
The eerie etching
The first known etched boards date from the early 16th century. Etching (fr. eau-forte — strong water, aquafortis, nitric acid) is the main technique of gravure printing easel graphics, which suggests the image to be etched with acid on the surface of a metal plate. From a technological aspect, etching is the opposite of a carving. Read more
, Perhaps They Are of Another Breed, where a man in a shroud with sunken eyes and cheeks, almost dead, rises from a heap of the dying, and well-to-do Frenchmen are standing nearby, is not just a painful fantasy of the artist, but actually a document.
Francisco Goya. The series "disasters of war", page 61: They are a different breed
1814, 16×23 cm
Records of the younger contemporary of Goya, the writer Ramón de Mesonero Romanos, Memorias de un Setentón about the famine in Madrid in 1811, have survived: "Men, women and children, dying, lay in the streets. They begged for a slice of bread, a slice of potatoes, some greens. It was an awful spectacle of despair and pain. I was shocked by the sight of countless people in the streets fighting in vain with death, the women’s screams, the cry of children dying side by side with their fathers. Carts came twice a day to take away the corpses. The incessant groaning of the unfortunate in the last agony terrified those who dared to go out into the street. But they looked like living corpses themselves. The city was shrouded in a poisonous spirit of death."
Before Goya, European graphics did not know such a concentration of human atrocities. A series of more than 80 works was never fully published during the artist’s life: it was too much shock content, in the language of modern media. For the first time, the Academy of San Fernando published the entire series only in 1863, half a century after the end of the war and 35 years after the death of Goya.

La Tauromaquia

Goya turned 70 when in 1816, his La Tauromaquia etchings series was published, 33 sheets with scenes of bullfighting, very spectacular and dynamic. La Tauromaquia literally means bullfighting, but more often it is called History and Practice of Bullfighting.

Working on La Tauromaquia, Goya even retreated from his dislike of theory: he closely studied the famous treatise by Nicolás de Moratín, Historical Letter on the Origin and Development of Bullfighting in Spain.

Bullfighting attracted Goya all his life. As a youth, to get to Rome, he joined a group of matadors heading for Italy. The bullfight, courage, the excited rumble of the crowd were his atmosphere. Sociable and cocky young Francho took part in bullfighting and performances of street acrobats himself. And then, having settled down, Goya never refused to watch bullfighting. Juanito Apignani, Rendon, Castelaro, Pajueler, Basque Martinico, Pepe Hillo were the big names of Goya’s contemporary bullfighters, famous throughout Spain. It is believed that Goya could see the death of Mariano Ceballos with his own eyes, a bullfighter who came to Spain from America. And he almost certainly saw Pepe Hillo die in the Plaza de Madrid.
It must be said that questions of the ethics of the bloody spectacle were also raised in the days of Goya. The enlightened ones repeated even then: bullfighting is a national shame.

But Goya looked at the bullfight differently: he was attracted by human courage and risk.
Goya was interested in technique of depicting a bullfight: how to convey the swiftness of an angry bull, the tension of a bullfighter, the crowd jubilant or holding their breath? The task was very difficult: both the bull and the bullfighter are in motion all the time, the angles are dynamically changing. To convey this movement is what can be considered the main technical task of La Tauromaquia, and Goya coped with it brilliantly, which put him on the verge of new time painting, without poses and statics.

Los Disparates (Madness)

On 27 February 1819, Goya bought the Quinta del Sordo estate — the House of the Deaf in a suburb of 

On 27 February 1819, Goya bought the Quinta del Sordo estate — the House of the Deaf in a suburb of Madrid. The lonely deaf widower would paint the walls of his new villa with gloomy, frightening frescoes — they would later be called Black Pictures, transferred from the wall to canvas and transferred to a museum, and the house would be demolished in 1909.

In parallel with the painting of the walls in Quinta del Sordo, Goya begins a graphic series, no less strange and mysterious than his Black Paintings. It is known by various names — Proverbios (Proverbs), Sueños (Dreams) or Los Disparates (Madness).

Francisco Goya. A series of "Disparates", page 13: the Way to fly
1819, 24.4×35.3 cm
Francisco Goya. A series of "Disparates", sheet 07: Nonsense marriage
1819, 33.7×50.2 cm
Francisco Goya. A series of "Disparates", page 18: Ghosts
1819, 24.3×35.2 cm
Francisco Goya. A series of "Disparates", sheet 14: carnival nonsense
1819, 24.2×35.2 cm
Francisco Goya. A series of "Disparates", sheet 06: Meaningless rage
1819, 24.3×35.1 cm
Francisco Goya. A series of "Disparates", page 17: the Simplicity
1819, 24.4×35.1 cm
Francisco Goya. A series of "Disparates", sheet 4: Idiot
1819, 22×32 cm
Francisco Goya. A series of "Disparates", page 19: a Friend of stupidity
1819, 24.5×35 cm
Francisco Goya. A series of "Disparates" worksheet 02: the Folly of fear
1819, 24.4×35.3 cm
Francisco Goya. A series of "Disparates", sheet 03: the Funny nonsense
1819, 24.5×35.2 cm
Francisco Goya. A series of "Disparates" worksheet 05: the Flying stupidity
1819, 24.4×35.2 cm
Francisco Goya. A series of "Disparates", plate 10: Horse stealing woman
1819, 24.4×35.3 cm
Los Disparates engravings are Goya’s dying testament.
"Out of time and out of space," wrote Pierre Gassier about them, "Los Disparates become more and more human in their forms and as a clairvoyant, they conjure you from falling into the underworld."