Christie’s is honored to present the sale of Francisco José De Goya y Lucientes: Graphic Masterpieces from a Private Collection on January 28, 2014. Featuring 35 important examples the sale encompasses a survey of his graphic work, containing imagery which sheds light on the tumultuous times in which he Goya lived.
One of the highlights of the sale is an early example of Los Caprichos, a complete set of eighty etchings first published in 1799. These prints exposed the corruption that earned Goya’s homeland the appellation Black Spain. Here, Goya mocks the peasantry’s superstitious belief in witchcraft, the arrogance of the nobility, and the widespread corruption of the Catholic Church. It offers a kaleidoscope view of evil, encompassing prostitutes, imagined witches and goblins. In order to protect himself from the wrath of the Inquisition, Goya masked his satire by means of images that could inspire multiple interpretations. This subtle layering of meanings is one of the hallmarks of Goya’s genius.
Never before had any artist presented such a complex group of images, which effortlessly show the mundane and the supernatural. Conceived and executed in less than three years, the project as a whole involved an extraordinary amount of labor as many of the etchings are masterpieces in their own right. Technically, Goya was one of the first artists to work in aquatint and used the medium to its full effect – layering veils of tone one upon the other, sometimes coarse and granular and other times smooth or so fine that it resembles watercolor wash. One of the earliest series, Los Caprichos became Goya’s most popular and influential and was largely responsible for Goya becoming known outside Spain.