Francisco de Goya: Los Disparates
Francisco de Goya (1746-1828) is considered Spain’s most important artist at the end of the eighteenth and beginning of the nineteenth century. He was a court painter for fifty years, producing royal portraits for generations of kings and their families. Los Disparates, his last great series of etching and aquatint prints, was made toward the end of his life. Rather than reflecting the career of a celebrated artist, they are the work of a tortured individual. Goya survived a near-fatal illness that left him deaf, and he lived through a seven-year war that lay waste to the Iberian Peninsula, resulting in a breakdown of Spanish society and a reintroduction of the Inquisition.
Considered his darkest and most mysterious body of work, Los Disparates is also among his most inventive. His fantastic, menacing combinations of humans, animals, goblins, and supernatural creatures seem to satirize humanity’s cruelty. His plates were not printed until thirty-six years after his death, under the title Los Proverbios (Proverbs), but Goya’s own title was Disparates. The word is often translated as “follies” today, but the meaning in his time was far more harsh, along the lines of stupidity, madness, or lack of reason.
The Museum’s portfolio of Goya’s Los Disparates once belonged to Vincent van Gogh, an artist who was fascinated with Goya’s techniques, as well as the expressive and emotional content of his work.
Image: Francisco de Goya, Disparate Ridiculo from the series Los Disparates, 1815-24 (printed 1875), aquatint and etching on paper. Collection of the UK Art Museum, The Herman Lee and Nell Stuart Donovan Memorial Endowment and Art Museum Fund.