Saturday, November 19, 2016


Goya's great series of prints Los desastres de la guerra (The Disasters of War) is renowned for its depiction of the horrors of the Peninsular War, but many of the later prints in the series in fact capture the postwar chill that set in with the restoration of Fernando VII, who threw out the relatively enlightened Spanish constitution that had been promulgated in 1812 and began a wholesale persecution of liberals and the press. (Like the rest of Los desastres, these images remained unpublished during Goya's lifetime.)

The print at the top of the page is captioned simply "The Results"; Robert Hughes, in his book on the artist, glosses it thus: "a flock of Goya's nightmare bats, the lay and Church parasites that accompany Fernando, is descending on prostrate Spain." The one below bears the inscription "Against the Common Good."

According to Michael Armstrong Roche, in Goya and the Spirit of Enlightenment,
With his left hand the cleric writes something contra el bien general, while with his right he points up, signifying he acts in the name of God... "Common good" is an expression rooted in the Liberal political tradition; the cleric may therefore be drafting laws restoring Old Regime privileges on Fernando VII's return to power in 1814.
The third print is captioned "Truth Died," and is interpreted as representing the burial of the 1812 Constitution.

The final image asks, of the same allegorical figure, "Will She Rise Again?"

Here's Hughes:
Lovely bare-breasted Truth begins to shine again, to move, while those who would bury her recoil in confusion, clutching their shovels and books. A feverish and tentative hope is reborn in Goya's darkness.

1 comment:

dunnham said...

Timely stuff