Francisco de Goya y Lucientes (1746-1828)
Francisco de Goya y Lucientes (1746-1828)

Los Proverbios (D. 202-219; H. 248-265)

Francisco de Goya y Lucientes (1746-1828)
Los Proverbios (D. 202-219; H. 248-265)
the complete set of 18 etchings with burnished aquatint and drypoint, before 1824, on smooth wove paper, without watermark, a very rare, uniform set of trial proofs (Harris II.1.), before the scratch through the phantom on plate 2, before numbers and before the first edition of 1864, presumably printed around 1854 (possibly the Provôt set cited in Harris), fine, cleanly wiped impressions printed in black, with wide margins, presumably the full sheets, generally in good condition
P. 9 7/16 x 13¾ in. (240 x 350 mm.), S. 14 x 20 7/8 in. (357 x 530 mm.)
(Presumably) Georges Provôt; his sale; Hôtel Drouot, Paris, 10 April, 1935, lot 84.
Richard H. Zinser (circa 1883-1983), Forest Hills, New York, (not in Lugt).

Lot Essay

Possibly Hôtel Drouot, 7 June, 1962, lot 155.
Richard H. Zinser (circa 1883-1983), Forest Hills, New York, (not in Lugt).
N.G. Stogdon, New York, and Artemis Fine Arts, London; Prints from the Nineteenth Century, Spring 1987, no. 3.
Acquired from the above by the present owner.

Francisco de Goya created his final and most enigmatic print series in the years between 1815 and 1824. The series was published under the
title Los Proverbios, although Goya's own captions for the working
proofs include the word 'disparates', meaning 'follies'. As a result,
this print series is known by both titles.

Like Goya's 'black' paintings, begun in 1819 after his recovery from a serious illness and filled with macabre visions, Los Proverbios is
imbued with an overwhelming sense of pessimism and appear to reflect
Goya's precarious mental state at the time. Each of the etchings
depicts isolated figures in dark, often nightmarish landscapes. While
some plates appear harmlessly satirical, others depict gruesome
monsters or attacks on innocents. The compositions have few precedents and virtually no parallels in 19th century art, but may be connected
with the artist's interest in carnival themes, which he had often
explored in his sketchbooks. It is doubtful that Goya ever intended
them for a wider public.
The fate of the plates after completion is only partly understood. It
is known that the series originally comprised 22 plates, and these were left with Goya's son Javier upon the artist's departure from Spain,
remaining hidden until Javier's death in 1854. Eighteen of them passed through two owners before coming to the Royal Academy of San Fernando
in 1862, where they were cleaned and published in a posthumous
edition in 1864 - it was at this point the proverbs were assigned.
The four remaining plates independently made their way to Paris, where they were discovered in the early 1870s. They were eventually published in the French periodical L'Art in 1877 (see lot 30).

In the entry to his 1987 catalogue Nicholas Stogdon discusses the similarity between this set and the description of the one offered at Drouot in 1962. Whether or not they are one and the same, the fact remains that sets of the Proverbios printed circa 1848 are both exceptionally rare (Harris lists five, four of which are in institutions) and markedly different to the edition of 1864, which is printed very much in the style of the day, with heavy, dark umber inks that obscure detail and give a stultifying, leaden feel. Whilst the five '1848' sets vary in character the present set is, like the others, brighter and more transparent, much closer to prints known to have been made for Goya.

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