Francisco Goya – Los Caprichos
Francisco de Goya’s (1746-1828) great graphic series Los Caprichos (The Caprices) was begun in around 1793 and published in book form in 1799. The total of 80 aquatint etchings bear witness to a wild and restless conceptual world, where nightmare-like visions capture the dissonance in the soul of the Spanish people. In the captions, this occurs with reference to mocking expressions and other sayings.
The title of the series is derived from the Italian word capriccio, which means caprice or whimsy, but also covers fanciful notions. Several of the prints depict grotesque scenes involving devilry or witchcraft. Goya often makes use of the fable form, in which animal figures are presented with human characteristics.
Los Caprichos is enigmatically saturated, but its social satire is undisguised. Goya’s critique is wide-ranging and venomous. He portrays the prevailing superstitions, the ignorance and ineptitude of the ruling class, the lack of pedagogical insight, and marital misdeeds. Some of the motifs also have anti-clerical themes. The inquisition, intrigues in the corrupt monarchy and the general political turmoil form the historical background. .