Francisco Jose de Goya y Lucientes 1746-1828
Sera lo Mismo (It will be the same) c.1810
Plate 21 from Los Desastres de la Guerra (The Disasters of War)
Etching and burnished lavis
Harris 141 I iii/v, working proof before the number was changed from 25.
Goya’s series of prints, Los Desastres de la Guerra (The Disasters of War), is one of the highpoints of European printmaking and has been hugely influential right down to our own day. No edition was published during Goya’s lifetime, due to the political sensitivity of the subject matter. The posthumous editions (from 1863 onwards) lack the quality and sensitivity of printing evident in the very rare working proofs, which are thought to have been printed by Goya. The Fitzwilliam Museum has recently acquired one of these rare proofs, with the help of the National Art Collections Fund and the MLA/V&A Purchase Grant Fund.
This proof shows an earlier trial state, with the tonal medium of lavis (achieved by brushing acid directly onto the plate) still not cleaned from the margin, and before Goya burnished extra highlights in the lavis to shift the apparent light source in the picture. Only five other impressions of this state are known to exist (all in American or French collections), and there are only two impressions known of earlier states (in the Metropolitan Museum, New York, and the National Library in Madrid); so this example was printed from the plate at a very early stage, with all the quality that is missing in the posthumous editions, which look flat and grey by comparison. It is an excellent representation of a plate typical of the best in the series, but it is also an important demonstration of Goya’s working method. It was probably etched early in the series, around 1810 (several similar plates bear this date), showing one of the atrocities that Goya had recently witnessed as Napoleonic troops rampaged through Spain. He chose not to illustrate the major battles, but recorded the anonymous violent incidents suffered by the Spanish people at the hands of French troops or of the Spanish traitors, the Josefinos.
The Fitzwilliam Museum’s collection includes fine first edition sets of Los Caprichos and La Tauromaquia, but this is the first print from the Disasters of War to enter the collection. It is also the first unfinished working proof to enter a UK public collection (the British Museum owns the set of proofs that Goya gave to his friend Ceán Bermudez, which shows the final state of the prints as Goya left them, but it has no examples of unfinished states).
Acquisition Date: 2005