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Los Caprichos: The Sleep of Reason Produces Monsters, 1799

Francisco de Goya y Lucientes

Spanish, 1746-1828
Etching with watercolor
plate: 21.5 x 15 cm. (8 7/16 x 5 7/8 in); sheet: 28.8 x 20.5 cm. (11 5/16 x 8 1/16 in)
The Norton Simon Foundation
F.1969.04.43.G
© The Norton Simon Foundation

Not on view

1st Edition

Originally intended as the frontispiece for Goya's famous series of etchings, "Los Caprichos," this image is celebrated as one of the most important visual statements of the Age of Enlightenment, or Age of Reason. In this print, Goya appears as the artist asleep in the chair. Owls, bats, and lynxes swarm around him, suggesting the irrational world of dreams. Goya explained: "When abandoned by Reason, Imagination produces impossible monsters: united with her, she is the mother of the arts and the origin of their wonders." Goya viewed Spain as a country divorced from reason, and he inhabited "Los Caprichos" with the monstrous creatures that result from such an action.


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