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This stunning engraving is from Francisco Goya’s Les Caprices or Los Caprichos. The work featured engravings done by etching, chisel, drypoint, and aquatint on vellum. It is likely from the 5th to 8th edition published between 1881 and 1907.
Francisco José de Goya y Lucientes (1746-1828) was an influential Spanish painter. He served as the appointed painter of King Charles IV and Queen Maria-Luisa. His art was influenced by Rembrandt and Velasquez. Pablo Picasso and Salvador Dalí both named Goya as inspiration for their artistic styles.
Goya created Los Caprichos near the turn of the 19th century and illustrated the superstitions of Spanish society at the time. In an often dreamlike quality he illustrates to three themes in the collection: love and its disillusions, social satire, and witchcraft. Goya described it as showing “the innumerable foibles and follies to be found in any civilized society, and from the common prejudices and deceitful practices which custom, ignorance, or self-interest have made usual.
Only 27 copies of his first edition sold in 1799. He then sold the original plates and 240 copies to the King in 1803 through Manuel Godoy, the Prime Minister, in exchange for a pension. Though not successful in its original publication, the work and Goya found acclaim over time. The series itself became quickly popular in France. Théophile Gautier wrote of it: “The abominable shrews of Goya’s Caprices, which until now I had taken for nightmares and monstrous chimeras, are only portraits of frightening accuracy.” (Tra los montes, Paris: Victor Magen, 1843, p. 53)