- Reference number
- Goya y Lucientes, Francisco de (Spanish)
- The Tobacco Guards
- 262 cm x 137 cm
- Género y sociedad
- On display
- Entregado a la Real Fábrica de Tapices de Santa Bárbara, Madrid, el 24 de enero de 1780. Transferido entre 1856-1857 al Palacio Real de Madrid (sótanos del oficio de tapicería). Ingresó en el Prado por reales órdenes de 18.1 y 9.2. de 1870.
Several guards, one of them obviously showing off, watch the path to keep smugglers from getting through. Beside the patrol are three other figures, probably from a nearby village.
The price of tobacco in the eighteenth century, and the state monopoly on its sales, led numerous enlightened intellectuals to criticize the existence of contraband and the inefficiency of the Justice System. The mountains in the background, clearly inspired by Velasquez, are the setting in which Goya locates these guardians of the law. Their defiant posture seeks to present them as heroes against the smugglers exalted by popular literature.
Made as a cartoon for one of the tapestries to be hung in the antechamber to the bedroom of the Prince and Princess in the El Pardo Palace, this work's guards, with their postures and attitudes, are the masculine counterpoint to female scenes such as The Swing (P785) or The Washerwoman (P786), which hung directly across from them.