Follow by Email

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Los Caprichos de Goya

Francisco José de Goya y Lucientes (Spain 1746 - France 1828) Born in rural Aragón in 1746 and educated in Zaragoza, Goya was exposed to the artistic world from an early age. His father was a gilder, working on important projects including the construction of Nuestra Señora del Pilar, one of the largest churches in Europe at the time.

At the end of the 18th century in 1799, Francisco Goya at age of 51, shortly after a serious illness that left him deaf, began to work on a series of 80 etchings known as “Los Caprichos” (the caprices) that influenced artists and writers into the 20th century, particularly the Surrealists.
The images are a blend of two techniques: etching and aquatint. In particular Goya's use of the aquatint process, lend to the images a strong contrast between dark and light that provides a distinctly mysterious and dark quality to the work.

In the  collection, the Aragonese artist offers images satirising the court, the army, and the hypocrisy, ignorance and corruption of the ruling classes.The criticisms are far-ranging and acidic. He speaks against the predominance of superstition, the ignorance and inabilities of the various members of the ruling class, pedagogical short-comings, marital mistakes, and the decline of rationality. Some of the prints have anticlerical themes. Goya was a sharp social satirist!

When first published in 1799, Los Caprichos did not receive a particularly favourable reception. Of the two hundred and forty copies printed, only twenty seven were sold making the project somewhat of a financial disaster. The reason for the complete failure has never been established; however, later correspondence suggests that the rapid withdrawal from sale of the series may have been due to the critical nature of the subject matter provoking the ire of the Inquisition. In  many of the Caprichos he had attacked the practices of this outmoded institution of the middle ages The plates from the series and all unsold copies were eventually donated to the Royal Calcografia in 1803 in return for a pension for the artist's son.
Los Caprichos made him persona non grata in Spain with the inquisition. Spain had become an unhealthy place for Goya to live in. Accordingly, in his late seventies he packed his paints and brushes and move do France to end his days in exile in the city of Bordeaux.

Goya added brief explanations of each image to a manuscript,  these help greatly to explain his often cryptic intentions, as do the titles printed below each image. The informal style, as well as the description of contemporary society found in the collection, makes them  and Goya himself , a precursor to the modernist movement almost a century later.

All 80 of these works are celebrated at a small but perfectly formed free exhibition at the INSTITUTO CERVANTES.
62 Visconde de Ouro preto St in Botafogo neighbourhood.

For further information

Rio 23°C/73°F
Thunder and windy!


  1. Love the post! I'm feeling sad that i cannot be there to see and love my city! Thanks to keep me posted! beijossss