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plate 43: Goya Los Caprichos (S.M. 1946)


Francisco José de Goya y Lucientes Los Caprichos
Madrid: 1799
Stirling Maxwell S.M. 1946

Los caprichos are a series of 79 satirical prints in etching and aquatint, preceded by a self-portrait. Goya's original idea was to produce a series of prints entitled Sueños. Number 43 was intended to be the title page; it shows Goya at his work table with the creatures of darkness swarming from the shadows behind him, and has the title: El sueño de la razon produce monstruos.

The drawings attack witchcraft and sorcery, current conventions of marriage and courtship, the Church, the medical profession and the law. The eighty copperplates were expertly printed and the first edition was offered for sale privately at the beginning of 1799. Nothing more is known of Goya's venture until 1803 when he offered the copperplates and two hundred and forty unsold sets of the first edition to Charles IV.

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