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They can still serve
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

They can still serve

1810 - 1814. Red chalk on wove paper.
Not on display

In this drawing and the following one (D04245), Goya presents one of his harshest criticisms. At first glance, both seem to depict village people picking up the war wounded and carrying them to the hospital to be cured—an unquestionably charitable and patriotic gesture. And that could well be the subject of these works were it not for their titles. With what Lafuente Ferrari (1952, pp. 61 y 152) called “bitter irony”, Goya took aim at the opportunistic charity and tragic outcome of man’s exploitation of others. And Mélida had already recognized the artist’s intentions nearly a century earlier, observing that “what should have moved our parents to gather and care for the wounded should not have been this selfish interest, but rather the charity those soldiers so rightly deserved after risking their lives for their country; but Goya paid little heed to that”. And, as Lecaldano put it: “here, the peasants have arrived in time to save Spanish soldiers wounded in combat. They will hide them and treat them, and who knows if they will survive? But this is no humanitarian gesture; it reflects the idea that, if they can somehow be revived, they will continue to be useful for fighting”. The concatenation of prints between “They can still serve” and the following, “These, too”, brings out the sequential character of these images and their titles, and this repetition strengthens the expressive charge that Goya sought to transmit. In the first, a group of civilians rescues various soldiers who are recognizable through their uniforms. The tragedy they have suffered is suggested by the weapons lying on the ground—an unmistakable sign of defeat, just as they would be in his much later canvas, The Second of May. The scene continues in the following print, where the soldiers seem to be recovering from their wounds. But this is not really the case, as a closer look reveals that they are no more than a group of bodies—some are even lying lifeless on the floor—as useless as the sack in the foreground. The differences between the preparatory drawing and the subsequent print include a more precise rendering, with more detailed faces, gestures and clothing. The faces, as well as the shadow in which the scene is set, contribute to the sadness of an atmosphere in which we can barely imagine anything except the cries of the wounded, some of whom receive no attention from anyone except themselves. The one in the foreground, for example, is bandaging his leg while others, with worried expressions, clumsily apply a tourniquet to a semi-nude man whose bottom is almost shamefully turned towards the viewer. (Text from: Matilla, J.M.: Aún podrán servir, in Goya en tiempos de guerra, Madrid: Museo Nacional del Prado, 2008, p. 288)


Technical data

Related artworks

Aun podrán servir
Etching, Burnisher on ivory paper, 1810 - 1814
Goya y Lucientes, Francisco de
Inventory number
Goya y Lucientes, Francisco de
They can still serve
1810 - 1814
Red chalk
Wove paper
Height: 164 mm; Width: 218 mm
Desastres de la guerra [dibujo]
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: Le peintre graveur ilustré, 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. 23, n.129.

Adhemar, J., Goya: Exposition de L'Oeuvre grave, de peintures, de tapisseries et de cent dix dessins du Musée du Prado, Bibliothèque National de France, Paris, 1935, pp. 43.

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

Sánchez Cantón, Francisco Javier, Los dibujos de Goya reproducidos a su tamaño y su color. Estudios para Los Caprichos, Los Desastres de la guerra, La Tauromaquia y dibujos no grabados, I, Museo del Prado, Madrid, 1954, pp. 98.

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 1034.

Gassier, Pierre, Dibujos de Goya. Estudios para Grabados y Pinturas, II, Noguer, Barcelona, 1975, pp. 236.

Derozier, C., La Guerre D'Independance Espagnole a Travers L'Estampe (1808..., II, Universidad de Lille, Lille, 1976, pp. 878.

Gillaud, J., Goya (1746-1828). Peintures, Dessins, Gravures, Centre Culturel du Marais, París, 1979, pp. nº 55.

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.

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. 288.

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. 128.

Other inventories +

Catálogo Gassier, 1975. Núm. II 184.

Colección Dibujos Goya (Numeración Sánchez Catón). Núm. 129.

Catálogo Goya, Pierre Gassier y Juliet Wilson. Núm. 1034.

Inscriptions +

"129" (sobre adhesivo)
Inscribed. Back, lower area

Inscribed. Front, lower left corner

Exhibitions +

Goya in Times of War
15.04.2008 - 13.07.2008

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

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