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Folly of fear
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

Folly of fear

1815 - 1819. Wash, Red chalk on laid paper.
Not on display

This preparatory drawing for Disparates, 2, Folly of fear, belongs to a series that Goya began in 1815 as a faithful reflection of his historical and personal context when, in the aftermath of the Peninsular War, he witnessed the collapse of part of the progressive world with which he somehow felt personally identified. He probably worked on this series until 1819, when political changes associated with the triumph of General Rafael Riego led to the proclamation of the Constitution of 1812 and a hopeful mood in which the oppressive atmosphere of the Disparates was out of place. Unfinished and incomprehensible, these works broke with what was then the official propagandistic version of events depicted by other engravers at a time of personal adulation of Ferdinand VII. This series reveals an artist who gives free rein to his creativity in highly crafted drawings such as this one, in which underlying traces of pencil and red chalk lay out a composition that he made increasingly more complex until it acquired one of the series’ fundamental qualities: its atmosphere. This is rendered with intense and varied washes, using more-or-less diluted brushstrokes of varying width and length that are sometimes almost dry. Smooth or broken, they define figures or simply sketch in crowds. The subjects that seem to bring meaning and unity to this series convey universal criticism of the essence of the human being, including fears, violence, beliefs, vices and errors. The technique employed in folly of fear is very similar to that of The Kidnapping horse (D04277), consisting of light red washes for the wooded background and more intense washes to define the figures. This preparatory drawing’s meticulous rendering brings out the underlying light red-chalk sketch in which it is just possible to make out the giant’s initial figure and the enormous claws he extends over the soldiers, which were subsequently eliminated when the brush was applied. The result is a transformation from terrible to ridiculous that helps explain the composition’s grotesqueness. Given their profession, soldiers are expected to be less vulnerable to the subject of this Disparate —irrational fear—but Goya presents them in terrified flight from a false giant that is actually a disguise, as we can seen from the laughing face peeking out of one sleeve. Like other drawings in this series, the event takes place in daylight, but in the corresponding print (G02170), the artist uses aquatint to turn it into a night scene, thus increasing its mysterious and unreal atmosphere. And like certain prints from the Disasters, the tree takes on a certain symbolic value, as the small buds that appeared on it in the drawing have disappeared, leaving a wooden trunk whose lower part is totally stripped of foliage. Also closely linked to the Disasters and to Goya’s painting, The 2 of May, are the soldier wielding a saber and the figure whose hands are joined in a plea for clemency. Moreover, the accumulation of figures along the entire horizon produces a greater feeling of crowding. Phantasms—beings with a false appearance that produce fear or devotion—had already appeared in previous works by Goya, including some prints from the Caprichos that criticize superstitions and the trickery of false religious beliefs. The present work, whose title was suggested by Beruete, has been the object of various interpretations, from those that view it in the context of the Peninsular War to those that see it as a parody of Ferdinand VII frightening liberal soldiers. Whatever Goya’s starting point may have been, the result is a disturbing image in which the natural order of things has been undermined. Thus, rather than displaying discipline and valor, these soldiers lie on top of each other on the ground, terrified by a puppet-like figure that is not what it appears to be. Folly of fear is one of the drawings that most closely resembles its subsequent print, despite slight changes that may alter its interpretation. Creases and traces of ink on the left and upper edges of the paper indicate it was transferred to the copper engraving plate (Text from Matilla, J.M.: Disparate de miedo, in: Goya en tiempos de Guerra, Madrid, Museo Nacional del Prado, 2008).


Technical data

Related artworks

Folly of fear
Etching, Aquatint, Burnisher, Drypoint on wove paper, 1815 - 1819
Goya y Lucientes, Francisco de
Folly of fear
Etching, Aquatint, Burnisher, Drypoint, Retroussage on wove paper, 1815 - 1819
Goya y Lucientes, Francisco de
Inventory number
Goya y Lucientes, Francisco de
Folly of fear
1815 - 1819
Wash; Red chalk
Laid paper
Height: 234 mm; Width: 332 mm
Disparates [dibujo], 2
Javier Goya, Madrid, 1828; Mariano Goya, Madrid, 1854; Valentín Carderera, Madrid, c. 1861; Mariano Carderera; Museo del Prado, Madrid, 1880; Museo del Prado, 12-11-1886.

Bibliography +

Mayer, August L., Francisco de Goya, Labor, Barcelona, 1925, pp. 231, nº 219.

Sánchez Cantón, Francisco Javier, Sala de los dibujos de Goya, II, Museo del Prado, Madrid, 1928, pp. 29, nº 186.

Adhémar, J., Goya. Exposition de l'oeuvre gravé, de peintures, de tapisseries et cent dix dessins du Musée du Prado, Bibliothèque Nationale, París, 1935, pp. 45, nº 278.

Camón Aznar, José, Los disparates de Goya y sus dibujos preparatorios, Instituto Amatller de Arte Hispánico, Barcelona, 1951, pp. 76-79, [168].

Uberwasser, Goya. Gemälde. Zeichnungen. Graphik. Tapisserien, Kunsthalle Basel, Basilea, 1953, pp. 91, nº 122.

Sánchez Cantón, Francisco Javier, Los dibujos de Goya reproducidos a su tamaño y en su color, II, Museo del Prado, Madrid, 1954, pp. nº 383.

Delteil, Loys, Goya. Facs. 1922, Collectors Editions, Da Capo Press, Nueva York, 1969, pp. nº 203.

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 1574.

Salas, Xavier de, El Arte de Goya, Ministerio de Auntos Exteriores, Tokio, 1971, pp. nº 116.

Gassier, Pierre, Vida y obra de Francisco de Goya: reproducción de su obra completa: pinturas, dibujos y grabados, Juventud, Barcelona, 1974, pp. 325, nº 1574.

Gassier, Pierre, Dibujos de Goya. Estudios para grabados y pinturas, II, Noguer, Barcelona, 1975, pp. 434-435, nº 291.

Holo, S., Goya. Los Disparates, Washington State University Press, Washington, 1976, pp. 9, il. 1.

Lafuente Ferrari, Enrique, El mundo de Goya en sus dibujos, Urbión, Madrid, 1979, pp. 327-328.

Camón Aznar, José, Francisco de Goya, IV, Caja de Ahorros de Zaragoza, Aragón y Rioja, Zaragoza, 1980-1982, pp. 88.

Stuffmann, Margret, Goya. Zeichnungen und Druckgraphik, Stadelschen Kunstinstitut, Frankfurt:, 1981, pp. 188.

Mena Marqués, Manuela B., El cuaderno italiano 1770-1786. Los orígenes del arte de Goya, Museo del Prado, Madrid:, 1994.

Biblioteca Nacional España, Ydioma Universal: Goya en la Biblioteca Nacional, Biblioteca NacionalLunwerg, Madrid:, 1996, pp. 264, nº 297, il. 23 (p.30-31).

Mena Marqués, Manuela B., Goya, Electa, Roma, 2000, pp. 114-115, nº 34.

Matilla, José Manuel, ''Disparate de miedo'', en Goya en tiempos de guerra, Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid:, 2008, pp. 474-475, nº 175.

Matilla, J.M. Mena M.B., Goya: dibujos. Solo la voluntad me sobra, Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid, 2019, pp. 242 nº154.

Filigree +

Motive: Letra "MANUEL SERRA" (mitad izquierda)

23 x 87 mm
Marca de agua "MANUEL -- SERRA" del papelero Manuel Serra y Franch, miembro de la dinastía de papeleros apellidados Serra, afincada en los molinos de Cap de Pont y Orpí en la rivera del río Carme, en Capellades (Barcelona), desde 1786 y durante las dos décadas iniciales del XIX. Manuel trabajó en Capellades durante las primeras décadas del siglo XIX. En 1827 ya figuraba su viuda como continuadora del negocio, pues así consta en la Exposición de la Industria de ese año, donde la Viuda de Serra y Franch recibió una mención honorífica por su producción de papel (Memoria de la Junta de Calificacion de los productos de la industria española remitidos á la Esposicion pública de 1827, Madrid, Imprenta de D.L. Amarita, 1828, p. 58).

Biblioteca Nacional España, Ydioma Universal: Goya en la Biblioteca Nacional, Biblioteca Nacional Lunwerg, Madrid, 1996, pp. 307, fil. 35.

Other inventories +

Catálogo Gassier, 1975. Núm. II 291.

Colección Dibujos Goya (Numeración Sánchez Catón). Núm. 186.

Catálogo Goya, Pierre Gassier y Juliet Wilson. Núm. 1574.

Inscriptions +

Inscribed. Front, lower left corner

MP Inventario DIBUJOS nº 195
Printmaking. Back, upper right corner

Inscribed. Back, Upper left area

186 [A la derecha de la inscripción "grabada"]
Inscribed. Back, Upper left area

Inscribed. Back, lower central area

Inscribed. Back, lower right corner

Inscribed. Back, upper right corner

Inscribed. Back, Upper right area

Exhibitions +

Goya: Dibujos del Museo del Prado. Melbourne
25.06.2021 - 03.10.2021

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

Goya in Times of War
15.04.2008 - 13.07.2008

Le crepuscule de la raison
15.10.2001 - 15.01.2002

Goya - Roma
16.03.2000 - 06.06.2000

Goya grabador
19.09.1996 - 15.12.1996

Goya: El cuaderno italiano
24.06.1994 - 21.08.1994

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

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