Goya's Caprichos: Beauty, Reason & Caricature - Vol. 1

Goya's Caprichos: Beauty, Reason & Caricature - Vol. 1

Goya's Caprichos: Beauty, Reason & Caricature - Vol. 1

Goya's Caprichos: Beauty, Reason & Caricature - Vol. 1

Excerpt

GOYA's etching and aquatint series Caprichos, published in 1799, was the first work to win wide acclaim for the artist outside Spain. When the book was suddenly withdrawn from publication after it had been advertised for only two weeks, a number of copies, sold at the high price of one doubloon each, had already left Spain. That there was a demand abroad even four years later is evident from Goya's own comment with reference to the unsold copies: "Those most eager to have them are foreigners."

He made this statement in a letter dated July 3, 1803, offering the Caprichos to Charles IV of Spain. Apparently the Inquisition had found the work objectionable, and Goya had got wind of some unpleasantness brewing. Just as four years before he had withdrawn the book from circulation, probably as the result of some similar pressure, now he could find no better way of preserving his work than by presenting it to the King. Fortunately His Majesty, through one of his ministers, not only accepted the present of both the unsold copies and the plates, but in return granted a fellowship of twelve thousand reales a year to Goya's nineteen-year-old son, Francisco Javier, who wanted to study painting abroad.

Such royal recognition seems -- contrary to what was assumed in later years -- to indicate that no satire of the royal persons or of people high in the court had been discerned in the aquatints. Even so, we know from Goya himself that he was in reality denounced to the Inquisition, which may indicate that the meaning of the Caprichos appeared to be damaging to established morals or beliefs, if not lèse majesté.

But anecdotal interpretations of this kind are not my subí

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