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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


1810 - 1815. Wash, Etching, Burnisher, Burin, Drypoint on paper. Room 064

The one-word title that Goya applied to this print has been traditionally interpreted as a pejorative designation for the protagonists of the scene. Indeed, the first definition for populacho in the Royal Spanish Academy´s dictionary offers the lowest class of people, although it is also defined as an unruly or disorderly crowd (as in the English rabble). Writers from the period, such as Leandro Fernández de Moratín or José María Blanco White, who coincide ideologically with Goya, apply this term to vociferous, ignorant commoners. As is apparent in this print, the image presents the concepts associated with both definitions: the common people, their behaviour devoid of any logic, capable of committing acts of brutality against the lives of others, or to observe such acts with a certain degree of apathy, taking refuge in the crowd and in the disorder.There are numerous surviving accounts that refer to the actions of the common people against the French, the afrancesados (Spaniards sympathetic to the French) and the defenders of the legal system in force during the early days of the uprisings in May 1808. These accounts were disseminated in the press and later in memoirs or histories. Every one of these accounts describes the inhumanity of the crowds who -after bringing their captives to justice- dragged the corpses through the streets of Madrid.Making use of his habitual expressive devices, Goya leaves the figure of the victim white, contrasting with the heavy etching applied to the two sadistic Spaniards mistreating the lifeless body. The formal similarities between this print and plate 12 from Goya´s series of bullfighting etchings La Tauromaquia, entitled Desjarrete de la canalla (The rabble hamstring the bull), are noteworthy: the afrancesado in this print and the bull in the other have both become defenceless victims of a frenzied mob. These formal similarities suggest the chronological and ideological proximity of the two series of etchings. The gestures and the facial expressions, as in so many of his other works from these years, eloquently communicate the idea of violence and irrationality. The rope tied to the cadaver´s feet emphasises the manner in which it is being dragged, pulling the man´s clothes up around his torso and exposing his legs and buttocks, over which a patriot prepares to stab him with a long-handled sickle used to hamstring bulls -perhaps suggesting that he is intending to castrate the corpse. The violence is also evident in the faces of the mob observing the event. Some figures betray expressions of fear or compassion, like the women on either side of the print, but others, like the priest wearing a shovel hat, appear to view the scene with no reaction: indifference, perhaps, or tacit approval (Matilla, J. M.: Portrait of Spain. Masterpieces from the Prado, Queensland Art Gallery-Art Exhibitions Australia, 2012, p. 218).


Technical data

Related artworks

Red chalk on laid paper, 1810 - 1814
Wash on wove paper, 1810 - 1814
Inventory number
Goya y Lucientes, Francisco de
1810 - 1815
Wash; Etching; Burnisher; Burin; Drypoint
Height: 177 mm.; Width: 220 mm.
Desastres de la guerra [estampa], 28
Bequest of Tomas Harris, 1964

Bibliography +

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

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.



Exhibitions +

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

Location +

Room 064 (On Display)

Update date: 14-07-2021 | Registry created on 13-12-2016

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