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Against the common good
Goya y Lucientes, Francisco de
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Goya y Lucientes, Francisco de

Fuendetodos, Zaragoza (Spain), 1746 - Bordeaux (France), 1828

Goya y Lucientes, Francisco de See author's file

Against the common good

1814 - 1815. Red chalk on laid paper.
Not on display

A preparatory drawing from Disasters of War, 71, Against the Common Weal. The interpretation of the Emphatic Caprices focuses on different aspects of the repression and the return to absolutism that followed King Ferdinand VII’s return to Spain. These are clearly set out in his Royal Decree of May 4, 1814: “In accordance with the decided and widespread demonstrations of my peoples’ will, inasmuch as they are just and well founded, We declare [...] that constitution and such decrees null and void, now and at all times, as if such acts had never taken place and were erased from existence. [...] And whosoever shall maintain them or contradict this, our royal declaration based on said agreement and will, thus attacking the prerogatives of our sovereignty and the wellbeing of the nation, causing trepidation and disquiet in our realms, should he dare or attempt such acts, shall be considered guilty of high treason, and condemned to death, by execution, in writing or by our spoke order.” Unlike his earlier and more narrative drawings and prints, these final works return to the allegorical language that Goya had used in his Caprichos. And from then on, in the final years of his life, these would be a constant in his work, leading to the Disparates and the Black Paintings. The currency of the subjects being address -the struggle between the servile and the liberals and the repression of the latter group, the return of the Inquisition and the abolition of the Liberal Constitution of 1812- may well have motivated Goya’s decision to convey his logical disappointment via somber images and a cryptic and ambiguous visual language whose criticism of absolutist rule was thus not overly explicit or compromising. But these images are also imbued with a sense of the grotesque, and that became a constant in his posterior work, where men lose their human condition and become increasingly animal as a consequence of their acts. As Nigel Glendinning pointed out, the source of this allegorical language is Gli animali parlanti (The Talking Animals), a book by Gambattista Casti (1724-1803) published in Italy in 1802 and translated into Spanish in 1813 by Francisco Rodríguez Ledesma (Madrid: Imp. Espinosa). This book of fables criticizes corrupt power that puts an end to freedom. In this dehumanization or transformation into animals, wolves, vampires, buzzards, owls and other monstrous creatures halfway between humans and animals repress and kill humans. Against the Common Weal and The Consequences (Disasters 72) are clear examples of this group of works’ allegorical presentation of political content. Once again, Goya links the images to very expressive titles, creating sequences that propose a thesis and its outcome. Thus, the conditions set out by the protagonist of the first work have consequences for the man lying on the ground in the second one. In Canto XXIV of Casti’s poem, the chief of the vampires is described as a legal counselor and the head of a “group of greedy notaries, economists and criminal specialists.” Beginning as a financier, the vampire becomes an advisor to the crown, a skilled schemer who serves the interests of the wolf by sucking his victims’ blood. The criticism of his period’s politics contained in these prints fully justifies the artist’s decision not to publish the series. The scenes of war and famine were unseemly at a moment of patriotic exaltation, and the final part stood as a devastating attack on rulers who frequently cited the common weal to justify the politics of governments that made laws based on the privileges of the Ancien Régime. In the first work, this is subtly suggested by the chair in which the legislator sits, which bears the metal studding characteristic of 17th-century Spanish furniture. And it is perfectly identifiable in the following print. The animals of the night that inhabit The Sleep of Reason Produces Monsters, which Goya included in his Caprichos almost twenty years earlier. According to Lafuente Ferrari, they focus their vampire-like attack “on the tired body that could symbolize post-war Spain, feeding on its weak and scanty blood.” (Text drawn from Matilla, J. M.: Contra el bien general, in: Goya en tiempos de Guerra, Madrid: Museo Nacional del Prado, 2008, pp. 341-343).


Technical data

Related artworks

Against the Common Weal
Etching, Burnisher on wove paper, 1814 - 1815
Goya y Lucientes, Francisco de
Inventory number
Goya y Lucientes, Francisco de
Against the common good
1814 - 1815
Red chalk
Laid paper
Height: 146 mm; Width: 206 mm
Desastres de la guerra [dibujo], 71
Javier Goya, Madrid, 1828; Mariano Goya, Madrid, 1854; Valentín Carderera, Madrid, c. 1861; Mariano Carderera, Madrid, 1880; Museo del Prado, 1886.

Bibliography +

D'Achiardi, Pierre, Les Dessins de D. Francisco de Goya y Lucientes au Musée du Prado à Madrid, II, D. Anderson, Roma, 1908.

Delteil, Loys, Francisco Goya, I, Chez L'Auteur, Paris, 1922.

Mayer, August L., Francisco de Goya, Labor, Barcelona, 1925, pp. 231.

Sánchez Cantón, Francisco Javier, Sala de los dibujos de Goya, II, Museo del Prado, Madrid, 1928, pp. 27, n.160.

Lafuente Ferrari, Enrique, Los desastres de la guerra de Goya y sus dibujos preparatorios, Instituto Amatller de Arte Hispánico, Barcelona, 1952, pp. 74, 184.

Sánchez Cantón, Francisco Javier, Los dibujos de Goya reproducidos a su tamaño y en su color. Estudios para Los Caprichos, Los Desastres de la guerra, La Tauromaquia y dibujos no grabados, I, Museo del Prado, Madrid, 1954, pp. 131.

Gassier, Pierre y Wilson-Bareau, Juliet, Vie et oeuvre de Francisco de Goya: l' oeuvre complet illustré: peintures, dessins, gravures, Office du Livre, Fribourg, 1970, pp. nº 1117.

Gassier, Pierre, Dibujos de Goya. Estudios para grabados y pinturas, II, Noguer, Barcelona, 1973, pp. 299.

Derozier, C., La Guerre D'Independance Espagnole a Travers L'Estampe (1808..., II, Universidad de Lille, Lille, 1976, pp. 946.

Stuffmann, Margret, Goya. Zeichnungen Und Druckgraphik, Stadelschen Kunstinstitut, Frankrfurt, 1981, pp. G85.

Goya y la constitución de 1812, Ayuntamiento, Delegación de Cultu, Madrid, 1982, pp. nº 21.

Blas, Javier, El libro de los desastres de la guerra Francisco de Goya. Vol. I, Museo del Prado: R.A.B.A.S.F., Madrid, 2000.

Nieto Alcaide, V, La guerra y lo imaginario en la pintura de Goya. En Historias inmortales, Barcelona, 2003, pp. 319-329.

Mena Marqués, Manuela B., Goya: prophet der moderne, Dumont, Köln, 2005, pp. 288, nº 123.

Matilla, José Manuel, Estampas españolas de la Guerra de la Independencia: propaganda, conmemoración y testimonio, Universidad de Salamanca, 2008.

Goya en tiempos de guerra, Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid, 2008, pp. 341.

Bordes J., Matilla J.M., y Balsells, S., Goya: cronista de todas las guerras : los Desastres y la fotografía de guerra, Centro Atlántico de Arte Moderno y Real Academia de Bellas Artes de San Fernando, Las Palmas De Gran Canaria Y Madrid, 2009, pp. 222.

Matilla Rodríguez, José Manuel, Ligereza y atrevimiento. Dibujos de Goya, Fundación Botín, Santander, 2017, pp. 112 n.64.

Matilla, J.M. Mena M.B., Goya: dibujos. Solo la voluntad me sobra, Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid, 2019, pp. 208 nº129.

Other inventories +

Catálogo Gassier, 1975. Núm. II 219.

Colección Dibujos Goya (Numeración Sánchez Catón). Núm. 160.

Catálogo Goya, Pierre Gassier y Juliet Wilson. Núm. 1117.

Inscriptions +

"34" (montado en parte sobre el fragmento de papel injertado)
Inscribed. Front, lower left area

Exhibitions +

Goya. Drawings. "Only my Strength of Will Remains"
20.11.2019 - 16.02.2020

Solo la voluntad me sobra. Dibujos de Francisco de Goya
19.11.2019 - 16.02.2020

Ligereza y atrevimiento. Dibujos de Goya
22.06.2017 - 30.09.2017

Goya in Times of War
15.04.2008 - 13.07.2008

Goya - Profeta de la Modernidad (Berlín / Viena)
18.10.2005 - 29.01.2006

Goya - Profeta de la Modernidad (Berlín / Viena)
12.07.2005 - 03.10.2005

Update date: 22-11-2021 | Registry created on 28-04-2015

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