Francisco Goya is one of the most revered names in art history, owning to the undeniable skill which he employed in his work as well as the wildly diverse body of work that he created in his lifetime. The Romantic trappings of color, composition, and subject matter in his early work and portraiture lend themselves to the consideration of Goya as the last of the Old Masters. And yet, Goya’s incredible ability to portray the political fluctuations occurring in his native Spain through allegorical and sometimes disturbing imagery grew more personal throughout his lifetime and produced some of the images for which he is remembered for. Throughout his life Goya’s suffered from various physical and mental maladies, resulting at the end of the 18th century in his turning to significantly darker imagery and subject matter. Goya’s mythic Black Paintings, for which he is perhaps best remembered, were the last group of paintings that the artist ever created, oil paintings made directly onto the walls of the house in which he was living at the time.
Twenty years before the Black Paintings, however, Goya had produced a series of prints that were an exercise in whimsy as a means of social commentary. Published in 1799, Goya’s Los Caprichos (or Caprices) are a group of 80 prints which the artist created as a means of critiquing and mocking the mores of late-18th century Spain; among the victims of Goya’s wit are the orders of religious and aristocratic power, courtship rituals, and common superstitions. While I knew that Goya was an accomplished printmaker I had never seen a full series of his printed work, so when I found these today I was spellbound. Everyone is sure to find something to be frightened, humored, or inspired by somewhere within this collection. Take a look at eight plates that particularly struck me from this incredible body of work below and make sure to look into the rest of this amazing series.