GOYA Francisco

Francisco Goya    Spanish 1746-1828
Francisco Goya was born on 30th March 1746, south of Zaragoza, Spain. After traveling to Italy to study the renaissance masters, in 1774 he moved to Madrid. There, working in the Royal Court, he began a successful career as a painter to the Court. In 1778, at a relatively early age he had already shown interest in printing and etching techniques and his skill in this field was to establish him as one of the great engravers. In the years leading up to the French invasion, Goya took up drawing again, he started work on the first of his great series of critical etchings and developed a pictorial style that was mainly for personal satisfaction and pleasure.

In his lifetime, Goya produced four Series of etchings, a total of 211 prints. Los Caprichos, 1799; Los Desastres de la Guerra, 1810-20; and Los Disparates, (also known as Los Proverbios )1815-24) ; La Tauromaquia, 1815-16.

Los Caprichos: (The Follies)
Los Caprichos, the earliest of the major Goya series, is a series of 80 engravings, published initially in 1799 by Goya himself.  Goya produced a number of working proofs for these engravings, without the letters found on the bottom margin or the numbers at the top. Only two are known before aquatint. Then letters were added; more trial proofs taken and the letters on a number of these proofs corrected.  These early proofs, and a few complete early sets, are fairly well documented; their location is known.

In 1799 the prints were published in an edition of about 300, on fine quality strong laid paper, the sheets measure about 320 by 220 mm, in a warm sepia ink. These prints, in the First Edition, are each (of course) lifetime impressions. They vary a bit in quality, for as the run went into the hundreds the aquatint began to wear out, the different layers of shading became less distinct. But in general these prints are fine impressions.

In 1855, long after Goya’s death, the Calcografia in Madrid issued another set of Los Caprichos, now on wove paper. This edition was small, and the quality was generally good although variable. But the prints are not comparable to those of the First Edition. The Calcografia produced another edition (the Third Edition), also on wove paper, in 1868. Further editions were done in the late 1800’s, with various inks, still on wove paper, and the plates continued to deteriorate. The plates were then steelfaced (a tiny layer of steel applied to them, to halt the deterioration).A fourth Edition was printed in in 1878 on wove; A Fifth Edition   1881-1886, published by the Reál Academia, Madrid, on thin wove paper. Etc.  More additions were produced by the Calcografia, with various papers, watermarks, sizes and inks, up through the 12th Edition, issued in 1937.

All of these posthumous edition impressions are in some sense “original Goya prints,” i.e., they were taken off of the original plates. The editions, almost all originally in bound volumes of 80, have been broken up and impressions are sold singly. Connoisseurs of course prefer the impressions from the First Edition, and the earlier impressions from that edition if possible.

Los Desastres de la Guerra: (The Disasters of War)

This second series of Goya prints has a quite different history from the Caprichos.  Again, it is a series of 80 prints, but produced over a longer period, from about 1808 to 1814, the period of the Napoleonic Wars and the Great Famine in Madrid in 1811-12.  Working materials were scarce, and Goya worked on used plates, often cutting them in half or working on the back of worn or defective plates. This shows in the results; even the earliest impressions generally lack the incisiveness, and clarity of aquatint shading, of the Caprichos plates. But given the subject matter and the nature of the materials Goya worked with this series remains one of the great artistic and printmaking achievements.

Goya produced trial proofs, and even some complete proof sets of the Disasters after all the plates were completed. But he did not have an edition published at that point, or later during his lifetime. He left for France in about 1820, and had the plates stored in safes by his son, Javier. After Javier’s death in 1854 the plates were acquired by the Academia de San Fernando. At this point the plates were washed and proofs taken in preparation for an edition. Trial proof sets were made for the edition (a small number are documented), before the letters in the bottom margin were added. Then First Edition sets were printed (in 1862-3); some sets made before corrections in the lettering of some of the plates, a later group after the corrections. The size of these first two editions is about 500.  These were done on wove paper, many with JGO and palmette watermarks, in a sepia ink.

After the First Edition six more editions were published, of varying quality on a variety of papers, The Fourth edition in 1906 with an edition size of 275 copies; The editions did not get worse uniformly after the First, but, as in the case of the Caprichos, the First is by far the most desirable. The plates were printed to a  Seventh Edition published in in 1937.

Los Disparates / Los Proverbios:
The eighteen Proverbios prints were made at various times from about 1815-1824. Like the Disasters series prints, a few proofs were made of these prints by Goya, but no edition produced. The plates were then stored, with the plates of the Disasters, by his son Javier, and re-discovered after Javier’s death. It’s a mystery why a lifetime edition was not produced. Trial proofs were printed prior to the publication of the First Edition in 1864. After publication of the First Edition in an edition of 300 published by the Reál Academia, Madrid, on paper with a J.G.O. and Palmette watermark. An additional four plates were discovered in the possession of an artist, and these were published in L’Art in 1877, for the first time. The Third edition 1891 a, the total edition was 100, published by the Reál Academia, Madrid, on laid paper;  the fifth edition of 1904, again published by the Real Academia, Madrid another in 1916 by the same publishers etc. L’art published an edition in Paris on laid paper.

The plates of the Proverbios were re-editioned 8 times after the First Edition, the last edition in 1937, on various papers, different inks, and with widely varying results. As with each of the Goya sets, the deterioration after the initial printing – and even through the initial printing – was considerable.

La Tauromaque (The Bull fight) 33 etchings  First published 1816

The 33 original plates of this series were created in about 1815-1816, and were printed in an edition by Goya at that time (he produced a number of additional plates but rejected them), after a number of proof impressions were made. The set is on fine laid paper, with certain watermarks, printed in sepia ink. The edition was very small, perhaps much smaller than the Los Caprichos edition of 300. As with the other series, the La Calcografía Nacional, produced additional editions, starting with a small one in 1855 (on wove), a Third in 1876 (on laid), up to a Seventh in 1937. For the printing of the Third Edition the printer got hold of seven of the previously rejected plates (actually printed on the back of seven of the original plates) and printed them (lettering them A-G) as part of a set, making the total 40. These latter plates were not, then, editioned during Goya’s lifetime.

A second edition, printed in the workshops of La Calcografía Nacional in Madrid in 1855 . The Edition size was “small;“  The Paris editor, Loizelet, pulled the third edition in 1876;  The plates were brought back to Spain and the  fourth edition in 1905 published by  La Calcografía Nacional; The fifth edition, published by the Circulo de Bellas Artes of Madrid in 1921, in an edition of 200, printed in a reddish-brown ink, on heavy laid paper, each plate with a circular embossed portrait of the artist stamped in the lower right margin corner

It was during the siege of Madrid in the Spanish Civil War (1937) that the seventh and allegedly finest edition of La Tauromaquia was pulled. The plates then stayed in the Calcografía Nacional till 1979 when they were acquired by the parent organization, the Real Academia de San Fernando, who edited the eighth and last edition in 1984.

(Information by Harrisschrank)


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