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An heroic feat! With dead men!
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

An heroic feat! With dead men!

1810 - 1815. Wash, Etching, Drypoint on wove paper. Not on display

The title of this print might seem flippantly satirical were it not for the brutality of the scene it represents. It should therefore be understood as an oxymoron whose antithetical elements express Goya´s indignation at the extreme violence of events. Traditionally, the victims of this aggression have been identified as French soldiers, given the moustache on the head that has been staked to the tree branch. It is likely that the etching is inspired by the slaughter that took place in Chinchón on 27 December 1808. After four French soldiers were murdered, French troops responded by attacking the town: they sacked and burned many buildings and executed 86 townspeople, some in the streets of Chinchón and others on the road to Aranjuez, where the barracks of the imperial troops had been set up. It is therefore likely that Goya sought to create a sequence between plate 37, Esto es peor (This is worse) and this one, plate 39, with the insertion of another print between them representing the vengeance of French troops: plate 38, Barbaros! (Barbarians!). In recent years, historical records of the Peninsular War have shed light on the brutality of Spanish guerrilla fighters toward captured French soldiers and vice versa, violating the traditional rules of war between armies that had been the norm and generating a spiral of violence based on vengeance and terror.This print, like so many others from the series, manages to extract from specific events the essence of violence that is implicit in them. The reality that inspired the image is thus relegated to a secondary plane, as is the identity and individual nature of its victims. Lacking any iconographic features that would enable us to identify one faction or another, these bodies have become generic. The corpses are treated according to the classical canons of physical beauty; thus, the abuses they have suffered accentuate the tragic destruction of beauty and reason, essentially classical ideals of life. In addition, Goya eloquently makes manifest the way in which these men have been stripped of their dignity with the streams of blood that are the signs of their castration. With the amputated limbs and the merging of bodies and tree trunk -to which they are firmly tied with ropes that augment the tension of the image- Goya expresses an extreme form of violence that implies the objectification of the human body, which, here, has even been denied the dignity of death (Matilla, J. M.: Portrait of Spain. Masterpieces from the Prado, Queensland Art Gallery-Art Exhibitions Australia, 2012, p. 215).


Technical data

Inventory number
Goya y Lucientes, Francisco de
An heroic feat! With dead men!
1810 - 1815
Wash; Etching; Drypoint
Wove paper
Height: 156 mm.; Width: 208 mm.
Desastres de la guerra [estampa], 39
Real Academia de Bellas Artes de San Fernando, Madrid; Eduardo Luis Moreda Fernández; Museo del Prado, 2000

Bibliography +

Brunet, M.G., Étude sur Francisco Goya sa vie et ses travaux, Aubry, libraire-éditeur, Paris, 1865, pp. 54.

Viñaza, Cipriano Muñoz y Manzano Conde de la, Goya: su tiempo, su vida, sus obras, Tip. M.G. Hernández, Madrid, 1887, pp. 382.

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

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

Lafuente Ferrari, Enrique, Los desastres de la guerra de Goya y sus dibujos preparatorios, Instituto Amatller de Arte Hispánico, Barcelona, 1952, pp. 61, 64, 163.

Harris, Tomas, Goya, engravings and lithographs, II, Bruno Cassirer, Oxford, 1964, pp. 237.

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.

Derozier, C., La Guerre D'Independance Espagnole a Travers L'Estampe (1808..., II, Universidad de Lille, Lille, 1976, pp. 901.

Bozal, Valeriano, Imagen de Goya, Lumen, Barcelona, 1983, pp. 218.

Goya: nuevas visiones : homenaje a Enrique Lafuente Ferrari, Goya: nuevas visiones : homenaje a Enrique Lafuente Ferrari, Amigos del Museo del Prado, Madrid, 1987, pp. 129.

Vega J., Goya y el espíritu de la Ilustración, Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid, 1988, pp. 89.

Tomlinson, Janis, Graphic Evolutions. The Print Series of Francisco Goya, Columbia University Press, New York, 1989, pp. 31.

Vega, Jesusa, Museo del Prado: catálogo de estampas, Museo del Prado, Madrid, 1992, pp. 92.

Blas J., Matilla J.M. y Aguilar I, El libro de los desastres de la guerra: Francisco de Goya, I, Museo Nacional del Prado y Calcografía Nacional, Madrid, 2000, pp. 170.

Obras adscritas al Museo Nacional del Prado en el año 2000, Boletín del Museo del Prado, XIX, 2001, pp. 200.

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

Calcografía Nacional (España), Calcografía Nacional: catálogo general, II, Calcografía Nacional, Madrid, 2004, pp. 463.

Bozal, Valeriano, Francisco Goya: vida y obra, II, T.F., Alcobendas (Madrid), 2005, pp. 115.

No se puede mirar: Goya, Desastres de la guerra, Zoran Musi..., 2007.

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

Mangiante, Paolo Erasmo, Fuentes italianas de la gráfica goyesca, Goya e Italia, Diputación Provincial de Zaragoza, Zaragoza, 2008, pp. 305.

Földényi, F. László, Goya y el abismo del alma, Galaxia Gutenberg: Circulo de Lectores, Barcelona, 2008, pp. 166.

Matilla J.M., Goya: en tiempos de guerra, Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid, 2008, pp. 312.

Vega, Jesusa, Ciencia, arte e ilusión en la España Ilustrada, Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas, Madrid, 2010, pp. 478.

Bernardi López Vázquez, José Manuel, En el germen del Liberalismo español. La filosofía neoestoica en los Desastres de la Guerra de Goya., Quintana, 13, 2014, pp. 20, 29 f.23.

Hofmann, Julius, Francisco de Goya: Katalog seines graphischen Werkes, Gesellschaft für vervielfältigende Kunst, Viena, 2014, pp. 91-145.

Matilla, J.M. Mena M.B., Goya: dibujos. Solo la voluntad me sobra, Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid, 2019, pp. 204 nº 126.

Other inventories +

Inv. Nuevas Adquisiciones (iniciado en 1856). Núm. 2564.

Inscriptions +

Front, shorter side

Front, upper left corner

51 (raspado y bruñido)

Grande hazaña! con muertos!
Front, lower central 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

Portrait of Spain. Masterpieces from the Prado
16.12.2012 - 31.03.2013

Portrait of Spain. Masterpieces from the Prado
Houston TX
15.12.2012 - 31.03.2013

Portrait of Spain. Masterpieces from the Prado
22.07.2012 - 04.11.2012

Portrait of Spain. Masterpieces from the Prado
Brisbane, Australia
21.07.2012 - 04.11.2012

Update date: 18-08-2021 | Registry created on 28-04-2015

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