GOYA Y LUCIENTES, Francisco de (1746-1828)
Los Proverbios (D. 202-219; H. 248-265)
The complete set of 18 etchings with aquatint and drypoint, 1864, on heavy wove paper, watermark J.G.O and Palmette or none, fine, richly printed impressions from the First Edition of three hundred copies, published by the Real Academia de Nobles Artes de San Fernando, Madrid, 1864, with the lithographic title page, the full sheets, occasional very pale surface staining at the sheet edges, the title page with minor surface dirt, plate 18 with a short split across the tip of the lower right sheet corner, and a further nick at the upper sheet edge, with some light-staining on the reverse, otherwise in generally very good condition, in a modern binding. (album)
315 x 480 mm. (overall)
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 are 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 Xavier upon the artist's departure from Spain, remaining hidden until Xavier'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 first, posthumous edition in 1864 - it was only at this point that the individual proverbs were assigned to each plate. Meanwhile the four remaining plates had made their way to Paris, where they were discovered in the early 1870's. They were eventually published in the French periodical L'Art in 1877 (lot 805 is a copy of this publication).