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“The Dream (Sueno) of Reason Begets Monsters”– Francisco Goya, 1796-99: the pandemic year 2020

2020-12-30

Usually known as “The Sleep of Reason Produces Monsters”, an acquatint done by Francisco Goya, number 43 of 80 (called “Los Caprichos”) produced between 1796 and 1799. The title is a translation from the Spanish and is not strictly accurate. The word usually translated as “sleep” is “sueno” which is more accurately translated as “dream.”

The work is possibly a reaction to the Spanish Inquisition, which was still in full swing in Spain at the time the work was produced. Los Caprichos were primarily satirical in tone.

The work was accompanied by an inscription, which, translated, reads as “Imagination abandoned by reason produces impossible monsters; united with her, she is the mother of the arts and source of their wonders.”

According to Wikipedia, “Implied in Goya’s preparatory inscription, the artist’s nightmare reflects his view of Spanish society, which he portrayed in the Caprichos as demented, corrupt, and ripe for ridicule.”

This art is emblematic of the pandemic year 2020: we dream of monsters and awaken to horrors.

Wikipedia: Francisco de Goya

(Wikipedia: The Sleep of Reason Produces Monsters)

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