Francisco de Goya y Lucientes
(1746 - 1826)
was one of the most important and innovative artists of his time,
linking the Old Masters and the Moderns.* He was also
progressively split between an earlier courtly commitment (beginning in
1786 as painter to the Crown during the Bourbon Reforms) and,
subsequent to the upheaval of the French Revolution (and the patriotic
Peninsular War of 1807-1814), a darker brooding vision of the resulting
monstrous and horrific aspects of human nature.
He was skilfully able to translate his art into the various graphic media, with almost three hundred prints to his credit; his mastery of etching and rich aquatint wash, which dramatically heightened any of his compositions, show howhe often sought to turn technique to advantage through bold experimentation.
Si es Delinquente Que Muera Presto
[If He Is Guilty, Let Him Die Quickly]
Delteil 33.2 (with a different title, Le Prisonnier Torturé, de Profil), Harris 28.II (of III)
and aquatint, circa 1810-1820, the 2nd state (of 3), according to
Harris, the 3rd state corresponding to the posthumous edition)
produced a series of three prisoner etchings in order to denounce the
barbarous carceral conditions of the brutal Napoleonic
The present impression is a rare trial proof (one other impression known of this state), pulled
before the posthumous (and sole) edition published by the Calcografía in 1859.
* As Pierre Gassier (Vie et Oeuvre de Francisco Goya, Paris, 1970:16) phrased it,
"Goya serait une sorte de colosse bifrons jettant d'un côté un regard nostalgique sur le XVIIIe siècle finissant, et de l'autre contemplant d'un oeil prophétique les voies nouvelles qu'il vient ouvrir à l'art moderne."
[Goya would be something of a colossal Bifrons looking back with a nostalgic eye over the culminating 18th century, and, with the other, prophetically contemplating the new directions that he was opening to modern art.]