About This Artwork

Francisco José de Goya y Lucientes
Spanish, 1746-1828

Of what ill will he die?, plate 40 from Los Caprichos, 1797–98, published 1799

Etching and aquatint in brown on ivory laid paper
185 x 131 mm (image); 215 x 150 mm (plate); 301 x 207 mm (sheet)

Clarence Buckingham Collection, 1948.110.40

One of Goya’s best-known publications, Los Caprichos is an album of 80 whimsical prints that carry a biting critique of society’s foolishness. In the absurd scenario seen here, the artist ridicules the medical profession by depicting a doctor as a jackass. It is unclear whether the patient is dying from an illness or from the ignorant physician’s administrations.

Goya originally conceived the project as a series of dreams. On an early draft of the frontispiece, now in the collection of Museo del Prado in Madrid, he wrote, “The author dreaming. His only intention is to banish harmful beliefs commonly held and to perpetuate with this work of caprices the solid testimony of truth.”

Interpretive Resources

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