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Can't Anyone Untie Us? (¿No hay quien no desate?)

Francisco de Goya y Lucientes

European Art

In 1799 Francisco de Goya y Lucientes announced the publication of The Caprichos, eighty etchings and aquatints whose satiric, imaginary subjects offered scathing critiques of the characters, institutions, and values of early modern Spanish society. The prints are among the most influential images in European art. They also demonstrate Goya’s mastery of the aquatint technique, with which he created the velvety dark tones that amplify the etchings’ mysterious quality.

Each plate has a poetic or aphoristic caption, but the images alone—filled with animals, witches, goblins, and unenlightened people from all levels of society—convey a range of human failings and vices. In the selections on view here, Goya skewered vanity, sycophancy, forced marriage, and ignorance, with imagery that has continuing relevance. In The Chinchillas, for example, two figures with closed eyes and padlocked ears—one holding a rosary and the other a sword, both dressed in heraldry-emblazoned straitjackets—open their mouths to passively receive ideas fed to them by the other figure, who wears donkey ears symbolizing ignorance.

The Brooklyn Museum’s The Caprichos is a rare set of “trial proofs,” early impressions made by the artist before the officially published edition.
PORTFOLIO/SERIES Los Caprichos, Plate 75
MEDIUM Etching and aquatint on laid paper
  • Place Made: Spain
  • DATES 1797–1798
    DIMENSIONS Sheet: 11 7/8 x 8 in. (30.2 x 20.3 cm) Other (Plate): 8 9/16 x 6 in. (21.7 x 15.2 cm) Image: 7 3/4 x 5 1/2 in. (19.7 x 14 cm)  (show scale)
    COLLECTIONS European Art
    CREDIT LINE A. Augustus Healy Fund, Frank L. Babbott Fund, and Carll H. de Silver Fund
    MUSEUM LOCATION This item is not on view
    CAPTION Francisco de Goya y Lucientes (Spanish, 1746–1828). Can't Anyone Untie Us? (¿No hay quien no desate?), 1797–1798. Etching and aquatint on laid paper, Sheet: 11 7/8 x 8 in. (30.2 x 20.3 cm). Brooklyn Museum, A. Augustus Healy Fund, Frank L. Babbott Fund, and Carll H. de Silver Fund, 37.33.75 (Photo: , 37.33.75_PS9.jpg)
    STATE Trial proof
    IMAGE overall, 37.33.75_PS9.jpg., 2019
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    RIGHTS STATEMENT No known copyright restrictions
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