Plate 43 from 'Los Caprichos': The sleep of reason produces monsters (El sueño de la razon produce monstruos)
Goya (Francisco de Goya y Lucientes) (Spanish, Fuendetodos 1746–1828 Bordeaux)
Etching, aquatint, drypoint, and burin
Plate: 8 3/8 x 5 15/16 in. (21.2 x 15.1 cm)
Sheet: 11 5/8 x 8 1/4 in. (29.5 x 21 cm)
Gift of M. Knoedler & Co., 1918
Not on view
This is the best known image from Goya's series of 80 aquatint etchings published in 1799 known as 'Los Caprichos' that are generally understood as the artist's criticism of the society in which he lived. Goya worked on the series from around 1796-98 and many drawings for the prints survive. The inscription on the preparatory drawing for this print, now in the Prado Museum in Madrid, indicates that it was originally intended as the title page to the series. In the published edition, this print became plate 43, the number we can see in the top right corner. Nevertheless, it has come to symbolise the overall meaning of the series, what happens when reason is absent. Various animals including bats and owls fly above the sleeping artist, and at the lower right a lynx watches vigilantly alerting us to the rise of monstrous forces that we are able to control when sleep descends.
Inscription: Lettered on plate with number '43' and title 'El sueño/ de la razon/ produce/ monstruos.'
Marking: Paul J. Sachs 1878-1965 (Lugt 2091), in brown ink, verso
Knoedler and Co.; Paul J. Sachs; Donor: Knoedler and Co.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Drawings and Prints: Selections from the Permanent Collection," November 1, 1999–January 24, 2000.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Drawings and Prints: Selections from the Permanent Collection," July 12, 2010–October 3, 2010.
Le Peintre-Graveur Illustré (XIXe et XXe siècles). vol. 15, Paris, 1922.
Tomás Harris Goya: Engravings and Lithographs Vol. I: Text and Illustrations; Vol.II: Catalogue Raisonné. Oxford, 1964.
Colta Ives, Susan Alyson Stein Goya in the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Exh. cat., September 12 - December 31. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 1995, fig. no. 8, p. 20, ill.
Javier Blas, José Manuel Matilla, José Miguel Medrano El libro de los Caprichos. Francisco de Goya: Dos siglos de interpretaciones (1799-1999). Catálogo de los dibujos, pruebas de estado, láminas de cobre y estampas de la primera edición. Madrid, 1999.