Francisco de Goya (1746–1828): El sueño de la Razon Produce

Francisco de Goya (1746–1828): El sueño de la Razon Produce

9/27/2021, 4:41:00 PM
Francisco de Goya (1746–1828): El sueño de la Razon Produce Monstruos (The sleep of Reason Produces Monsters) (43th plate of the series, Los Caprichos), 1799, Print; Etching and aquatint, 21.27 x 15.08 cm, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, USA Toward the end of his life, Francisco de Goya grew dissatisfied with his life. A darkness came over him that bled into his work, and his suffering - both external and internal - was translated into the content of his creations. Los Caprichos is the result of this later time in Goya's life. As a set of eighty prints covering a number of different topics, they are well-known by people who appreciate Goya's detailed and varied works. The prints themselves were in aquatint and etchings, all different but all with a similar dark feel to them. The most famous of these is referred to as 'The sleep of reason produces monsters', but due to its popularity it is sometimes referred to as 'Los Caprichos' rather than the full set of prints. One of the reasons we understand anything at all about Los Caprichos is that Francisco de Goya added a small commentary to the print to explain the meaning behind it, or at least one of the meanings he intended to portray. In the image, we see a man in a frock and breeches curled over a table or a desk with his head in his folded arms. He is a picture of despair, even though his dark hair completely hides his expression. It can be surmised from the title of the piece that the man is intended to be asleep, though it does not look like a comfortable or satisfying rest. His position is awkward and seems tense. That is no surprise since behind the man are many beasts and birds crowding around him, all wide-eyed and dangerous-looking. The ones nearest the man are well-lit, but they descend quickly into shadows and create a menacing backdrop for the character. The man in the etching is likely Goya himself, hiding from the demons of his own mind. When his reason sleeps, irrationality takes over; the animal self, or the darker aspect of the soul. This was a part of his life that came with a lot of darkness and confusion so it is no wonder that Goya struggled with these menacing ideas.

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