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The beds of death
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

The beds of death

1812 - 1814. Wash, Etching, Burnisher, Burin, Drypoint on ivory paper.
Not on display

If death has been explicit and omnipresent over the course of the numerous Hunger prints, its name has not appeared in their titles until now. This work may be one of the most expressive of all, as well as one of the most meditative. Goya’s ideas for this composition were clear from the beginning, and the scant differences between the preparatory drawing and the final print are due almost exclusively to the fact that they employ different graphic techniques: red chalk, for the former, and etching for the latter. The subject was not clear to the work’s earliest critics. In 1918, Beruete was the first to grasp the emotional content of this image, which he called an “impressive and tragic scene, admirably rendered, straightforward and steeped in emotion, which recalls those decisive moments of silence in which not a word is uttered, but everything is said” (Beruete 1916-18, III, p. 91). This scene has been related to the large number of bodies that built up in hospitals during the famine that struck the capital. There were not enough beds, so they lay on the hallway floors, covered with little more than blankets, awaiting their inevitable deaths. Here, Goya presents a woman almost entirely covered by a blanket that stops just above the bottom of her skirt. She covers her face to avoid the sight and smell of such a horrendous situation. It matters very little whether the bodies lined up behind her are alive or not, as death is omnipresent. It has hovered around the previous prints, and will do so around the following ones, as well, and the title of this one makes that clear. Still, this image’s protagonist is alive and is trying to walk around the row of deathbeds, and to avoid their beckoning fate. The sense of transit is suggested by the slight diagonal established by the horizontally aligned bodies, and this marks the woman’s movement towards the foreground. Compositionally, Goya accentuates her solitude by darkening the background that emphasizes her verticality. Once again, Goya presents an image this is more than simply something he may have witnessed in Madrid in those years. By stripping it of any concrete reference to a specific location, he imbues it with a more transcendent significance, making it a universal image of man’s aloneness and anguish in the face of death. (Text from: Matilla, J.M.: Las Camas de la muerte, in: Goya en tiempos de Guerra, Madrid, Museo Nacional del Prado, 2008, p. 332)


Technical data

Related artworks

The beds of death
Red chalk on laid paper, Ca. 1813
Goya y Lucientes, Francisco de
Inventory number
Goya y Lucientes, Francisco de
The beds of death
1812 - 1814
Wash; Etching; Burnisher; Burin; Drypoint
Ivory paper
Height: 177 mm; Width: 221 mm
Desastres de la guerra [estampa], 62
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, Paris, 1865, pp. 56.

Viñaza, Cipriano Muñoz y Manzano Conde de la, Goya: su tiempo, su vida, sus obras, Tip. M.G. Hernández, Madrid, 1887, pp. 393.

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

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

Lafuente Ferrari, Enrique, Goya: el dos de mayo y los fusilamientos de la Moncloa, Juventud, Barcelona, 1946, pp. 20.

Lafuente Ferrari, Enrique, Los desastres de la guerra de Goya y sus dibujos preparatorios, Instituto Amatller de Arte Hispánico, Barcelona, 1952, pp. 26, 69, 177.

Harris, Tomas, Goya, engravings and lithographs, II, Bruno Cassirer, Oxford, 1964, pp. 268.

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.

Sayre, Eleanor, The Changing Image. Prints by Francisco Goya, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, 1974, pp. 194.

Derozier, C., La Guerre D'Independance Espagnole a Travers L'Estampe (1808..., II, Universidad de Lille, Lille, 1976, pp. 931.

Vega, Jesusa, Fatales consecuencias de la guerra.Francisco de Goya, pintor, Francisco de Goya, grabador: instantáneas, Caser y Calcografía Nacional, Madrid, 1992.

Vega, Jesusa, Museo del Prado: catálogo de estampas, Museo del Prado, Madrid, 1992, pp. 96.

Blas, J. y Matilla, J.M., El libro de los desastres de la guerra : Francisco de Goya, Museo Nacional del Prado,Calcografía Nacional, Madrid, 2000, pp. 117-118.

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. 466.

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

Matilla J.M., Goya: en tiempos de guerra, Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid, 2008, pp. 332.

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; Madrid, 2009, pp. 204.

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

Other inventories +

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

Inscriptions +

Front, upper left corner

Título de la estampa
Front, lower central area

Exhibitions +

The invited work: Farideh Lashai
30.05.2017 - 10.09.2017

Update date: 22-11-2021 | Registry created on 26-11-2015

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