Francisco José de Goya y Lucientes

Los Caprichos (The Caprices) –
Plate 53: What a golden beak!

1797 - 1798 etchings with aquatint and colour on paper

This looks a bit like an academic meeting. Perhaps the parrot is speaking about medicine? However don’t believe a word he says. There is many a doctor who has a “golden beak” when he is talking, but when he comes to prescritpions, he’s a Herod; he can ramble on about pains, but can’t cure them; he makes fools of sick people and fills the cemeteries with skulls. 

Francisco José de Goya y Lucientes (1746-1828) was a legendary Spanish painter and printmaker who is renowned as the first ‘modern’ artist. Goya’s late artworks were sombre and pessimistic, illustrating his bleak view of disparaging social and political climates. Although many of his personal standpoints no longer exist in written form, the artworks tell Goya’s stories. These, along with Goya’s life, were a significant influence on Salvador Dalí.

Goya’s etching suite, Los Caprichos (The Caprices) was made in 1797 to 1798 before being published in book form in 1799. The set of eighty prints is Goya’s satirical response and experiment to reveal the immeasurable follies, deceitful manners, and self-obsession found in Spanish culture at the time, along with social superstitions. However due to the political climate, he had to disguise the implied depictions within the artworks.