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Witness: Reality and Imagination in the Prints of Francisco Goya

April 22–September 6, 2017

Visions of Spanish life from one of the greatest graphic artists of all time

Francisco Goya witnessed decades of political turmoil and social upheaval as court painter to four successive rulers of Spain. Among his greatest achievements were four series of etchings that chronicle the transformation of Spanish society and his own personal visions: Los Caprichos (The Caprices), Los Desastres de la Guerra (The Disasters of War), La Tauromaquia (Bullfighting), and Los Disparates (The Follies). Near the end of his life, Goya also produced a set of four grand lithographs known as the Bulls of Bordeaux. This exhibition highlights prints from each series, exploring the imagery and techniques that make Goya one of the greatest graphic artists of all time.

From the chaos of war to the spectacle of the bullfight, the prints in the exhibition show Goya's remarkable ability to move between documentary realism and expressive invention. Unlike his commissioned paintings, his graphic works allowed him the freedom to explore provocative subjects such as prostitution, witchcraft, and political corruption. This exhibition also highlights how Goya pushed the limits of printmaking to heighten the expressive effect of his subjects.

Explore Goya's Innovative Print Series

Due to their eventual popularity and widespread impact, all four of Goya's etching series were published numerous times after his death. The Museum is fortunate to own complete first-edition sets of each etching series as well as his final suite of lithographs, selections of which are displayed in the exhibition.

Browse the full sets below.

Main Building


Danielle Canter, Margaret R. Mainwaring Curatorial Fellow; and Shelley R. Langdale, Associate Curator of Prints and Drawings

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