Francisco José de Goya y Lucientes

Los Caprichos (The Caprices) – Plate 16: For Heaven’s sake: and it was her mother

The young woman left her home as a little girl. She did her apprenticeship at Cadiz, she came to Madrid: there she “won the lottery”. She goes down to the Prado, and hears a grimy, decrepit old woman begging her for alms; she sends her away, the old woman persists. The fashionable young woman turns round and finds – who would have thought it – that the poor old woman is her mother.

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.