Francis Jose de Goya y Lucientes’ series of aquatint prints are part of his album Los Caprichos and raise many questions with regard to their meaning and their political, social and moral purpose. The focus of these prints relies on representing a social criticism such as human errors, vices and prejudices – all of them with a moralizing purpose for the 18th centurySpanish society. What makes these plates interesting is that not even intellectuals of the time were able to understand them at first sight. Even nowadays, people unable to comprehend their meaning without difficulty. Even though Goya provides captions or commentaries for each of these prints, it is still very hard for the viewer to understand what is going on. In some ways, Goya tried to preserveambiguity and mystery in his works. Not only are these plates known for their outstanding implied social critique but they are also admired nowadays for their artistic achievement. The representation of reality and fiction in each plate and the effective use of chiaroscuro make each of these prints unique.
The album Los Caprichos was created during the Spanish Inquisition and FrenchRevolution. This series were published in 1799 in the same year Goya was proclaimed first court painter for king Carlos of Spain. These series are composed of 80 prints with more than 400 figures both, real and fictional. The title itself conveys a deeper meaning. Los Caprichos denotes the innovating thought of a painter where his free imagination gives birth to a work or art distinct from everything donebefore. In a dangerous time of passing judgment, Goya makes known to the world that subjects such as social abuses and superstitions can also be depicted in painting. Even though people were killed for disagreeing with the nobility or the church, Goya still went on with his work. Thanks to his close relationship with the king, Goya was able to protect his safety and personal views. In thissense, the shortcoming of hypocrisy Goya faced during his own time could be perpetuated down in paper for his album.
Los Caprichos could be compared with an instructive book with 80 poetical engraves that deal with 80 vices and worries that afflict the society. It includes vices from the church and nobles to the vices of prostitutes and the scum of the society. Absolutely everyone is ridiculedat least once in any of the etchings of the album. This is what makes Los Caprichos a unique masterpiece: This diverse representation of several kinds of people that distinguish and gives significance to each print. However, making fun of the Church was not socially accepted at that time. The inquisition made notice of these prints and therefore, Goya had to remove these etchings from the marketsale and sell his private collection to the king. In this way, Goya’s prints were able to survive.
The titles and captions of each print all have a special meaning. Goya was focused in conveying the meaning of his etchings in words. They can either clarify a message, raise a theme or they can stand in direct opposition of the image itself. There is evidence that in his preparatorydrawing, Goya continued to change the titles of the prints. Usually they ended up being very short and sharper in their satirical connotation. For Goya, all these title were of high importance, they were the key to understand the satirical meaning of the print that would lead the reader to get the moralizing purpose behind the plates. In this way, not only the images themselves attempt to transmit Gaya’svision of society but the captions help the viewers understand the theme of each exposition. For example, print 40 portrays a person lying in a bed while a donkey dressed up as a man holds his wrist. At first sight, one might think any sort of interpretations and attribute it to this etching. However, the caption “De que mal morira” gives a clear interpretation for this print. It is alluding to...