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Witches’ proclamation prohibiting those under the age of thirty, no matter how deserving they may be
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

Witches’ proclamation prohibiting those under the age of thirty, no matter how deserving they may be

1796 - 1797. Pencil, Iron gall ink on laid paper. Not on display

This preparatory drawing for an unpublished plate from the Caprichos does not correspond to any specific etching. Together, the twenty-six pen-and-ink drawings that constitute the basis for The Caprichos are known as The Dreams. The first, Dream 1, The Author Dreaming, became number 43 in the Caprichos. This was a common subject during that period and it is related to Capricho 69, Blow (G02157), as Goya presents the witch holding a child in a similar fashion. The composition corresponds to “scenes featuring witches although, in the end, it was not used (…). Goya’s annotation refers to the proclamation against witches read by the figure presiding over the scene: a monk with a Dominican habit and donkey ears that symbolize ignorance. Since the Middle Ages, the Dominicans had defended Catholic orthodoxy, and they were in charge of the Inquisition. This monk’s open mouth indicates the message’s violence, which is underlined by his categorical gesticulation. Thus, Goya mocks the Inquisition’s decrees. The scene establishes a counterpoint between the young witch and the old one sitting in the shadows in the background. The nude youth’s wide thighs and bulging belly allude to her sexual capacity, or perhaps to her pregnancy. As she blows into a child’s mouth, he expels the air through his anus, into which a trumpet mouthpiece appears to have been inserted. The old woman wrapped in ample robes displays her bare foot in a manner that recalls classical sibyls and adjusts her glasses in order to read a book by the light of a candle that extends from the buttocks of another child who serves as her candlestick and book stand. The representation of an old woman with glasses reading a book by candlelight symbolizes the combination of wisdom and experience acquired with age. Witches, who were widely persecuted in Europe during the Middle Ages, came from the tradition of wise women, healers and midwives endowed with an age-old knowledge of practical medicine that included the preparation of curative balms and potions. In the 18th century (…) midwives had to be authorized by the Medical Board, which mistrusted their practical training. They were therefore obliged to demonstrate their knowledge (…). They also required authorization from the Church, which was oppose to all empirical knowledge and therefore mistrusted these women’s authority and power. Goya’s handwritten inscription has always been read as: Witches’ proclamation prohibiting those under the age of thirty, no matter how deserving they may be…. Until recently, no one had noticed a final part of the sentence at the bottom center of the paper, where it was partially erased by the mark of the engraving plate. It reads: “at flying” Flying was an activity specific to witches, and they used it to demonstrate their skills and to meet with their companions, as described in Caprichos such as: Trials, Pretty Teacher (G00652 and G02156) or Bon Voyage (G02152). The inscription takes it for granted that these witches know how to fly, but Goya denounces their double-talk as healers, implicitly criticizing the ignorance of those parents who entrusted their children to them. The inefficiency of their spells and remedies is made clear by the violent vomiting of the sick children at the lower right. The Church is also a target of Goya’s satire, as the Dominican monk charged with forbidding the witches’ activities casts an invasive shadow of ignorance and useless prayer over the entire scene.” The Museo del Prado has a series of works related to Dream 6 (D04155/D04192/G02157/G00643), and there is a steel-plated copper plate from the same series at Madrid’s Calcografía Nacional (214 x 152 mm, 559.84 g. No. 3495), as well as a preliminary drawing in India ink from Album B, 57 in a private collection (235 x 145 mm). The drawing bears 25 mm vertical laid lines. While there is no indication that this drawing was ever printed, it was clearly transferred to a plate (213 x 14n mm), which has left its mark on the drawing. Moreover, the ink on the drawing has run as a result of the paper being moistened when the image was transferred (Text from: Mena Marqués, M., Sueño 6. Pregón de brujas, in Matilla, J.M. and Mena Marqués, M. (dir.), Goya: Luces y Sombras, Barcelona: Fundación La Caixa, Barcelona: Obra Social La Caixa-Madrid: Museo Nacional del Prado, 2012, p. 142, no. 26).


Technical data

Inventory number
Goya y Lucientes, Francisco de
Witches’ proclamation prohibiting those under the age of thirty, no matter how deserving they may be
1796 - 1797
Pencil; Iron gall ink
Laid paper
Height: 232 mm.; Width: 153 mm.
Caprichos [dibujo]. Serie Los Sueños, 69, 6
Javier Goya, Madrid, 1828; Mariano Goya, Madrid, 1854; Valentín Carderera, Madrid, c. 1861; [Isidoro Brun, ant. 1879 (?)]; Pedro Fernández Durán y Bernaldo de Quirós, [1897 (?)]; Museo del Prado, 31-III-1931

Bibliography +

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 625.

Gassier, Pierre, Dibujos de Goya. Estudios para Grabados y Pinturas, II, Noguer, Barcelona, 1975, pp. 82.

Vega, Jesusa, 'El sueño dibujado' En:, Realidad y sueño en los viajes de Goya. Actas de las I Jornadas de arte de Fuendetodos (1994)., Zaragoza, 1996, pp. 41-67 [52 f.9].

Blas, J., Matilla, J.M., Medrano, J.M., El Libro de los Caprichos: dos siglos de interpretaciones 1799-1999. Catálogo de los dibujos, pruebas de estado, láminas de cobre y estampas de la primera edición, Museo Nacional de Prado, Madrid, 1999, pp. 347.

Seipel, Wilfried, Francisco de Goya 1746-1828 : Prophet Der Moderne, Dumont Literatur Und Kunst Verlag, Köln, 2005.

Goya: luces y sombras. Obras maestras del Museo del Prado, The Yomiuri Shimbun, 2011, pp. 134-135.

Mena Marqués, Manuela B., ''Sueño 6. Pregón de brujas'', en Goya: luces y sombras, Fundación ''la Caixa'', Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid, 2012, pp. 142, n. 26.

Other inventories +

Colección Dibujos Goya (Numeración Sánchez Catón). Núm. 477.

Catálogo Goya, Pierre Gassier y Juliet Wilson. Núm. 625.

Catálogo Gassier, 1975. Núm. II 45.

Inscriptions +

Inscribed. Back, Upper right area

Inscribed. Front, upper central area

Sueño. / Pregon de Brujas proibiendo a las / qe no pasan de treina años, pr mas merito qe tengan / en [¿bolar? casi borrado]
Inscribed. Front, lower central area


Exhibitions +

Goya: luces y sombras. Obras maestras del Museo del Prado
15.03.2012 - 24.06.2012

Goya: luces y sombras. Obras maestras del Museo del Prado / Goya: Lights and Shadows. Masterpieces of the Museo del Prado
22.10.2011 - 29.01.2012

Goya - Profeta de la Modernidad (Berlín / Viena)
18.10.2005 - 29.01.2006

Update date: 13-04-2021 | Registry created on 28-04-2015

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