7 Creepy Works from Francisco Goya’s ‘Los Caprichos’

A visitor to Park West Museum examines the art of Francisco Goya

With Halloween creeping up, dare to enter Park West Museum and view some legitimately creepy artwork by Francisco Goya, one of the most important Spanish artists of the 18th and 19th centuries.

The unsettling works in question belong to Goya’s “Los Caprichos” series, which he began sketching shortly after becoming ill in 1792. The illness sparked a wave of creativity that led to the darker style seen in “Caprichos.”

The result was 80 plates completed between 1797 and 1799—graphic works that critique both Spain’s culture and humanity in general. Throughout the series, Goya makes trenchant political commentary and references to witchcraft accompanied by bizarre and disturbing imagery—perfect for Halloween.

You can visit Park West Museum to see examples of “Los Caprichos” in person, or you read our below list of seven of the most eerie images from Goya’s notorious graphic series.

As an added bonus, we’ve included Goya’s commentary on the symbolism and significance of each image—taken from his “Prado manuscript.”

 

Aguarda que te Unten
(Wait till you’ve been Anointed)
c.1799

"Wait till you've been Anointed" (c. 1799), Francisco Goya

“Wait till you’ve been Anointed” (c. 1799), Francisco Goya

This image shows a goblin and an old hag, looking as if they are about to sacrifice a goat. While the two figures are creepy enough, perhaps the true horror is that the goat’s leg held by the goblin ends in a human foot.

From the Prado manuscript: “He has been sent out on an important errand and wants to go off half-annointed. Even among the witches, some are hare-brained, impetuous, madcap, without a scrap of judgement. It’s the same the world over.”

 

A Caza de Dientes
(Out Hunting for Teeth)
c. 1799

"Out Hunting for Teeth" (c. 1799), Francisco Goya

“Out Hunting for Teeth” (c. 1799), Francisco Goya

Witches need to collect their spell and potion ingredients from somewhere, right? Apparently, that sometimes involves prying teeth from a dead man, which as this image shows, is a grotesque errand.

From the Prado manuscript: “The teeth of a hanged man are very efficacious for sorceries; without this ingredient there is not much you can do. What a pity the common people should believe such nonsense.”

 

Ensayos
(Trials)
c.1799

"Trials" (c. 1799), Francisco Goya

“Trials” (c. 1799), Francisco Goya

What is possibly a witch is shown torturing a man while a demonic goat watches. Though open to interpretation, the manuscript hints at this witch learning sorcery, showing just how far people will go to earn money or power.

From the Prado manuscript: “Little by little she is making progress. She is already making her first steps and in time she will know as much as her teacher.”

 

Buen Viage
(Bon Voyage)
c.1799

"Bon Voyage" (c. 1799), Francisco Goya

“Bon Voyage” (c. 1799), Francisco Goya

A terrifying winged creature with numerous wailing heads on its back. As the manuscript suggests, there is little doubt people would be frightened if they saw this monster.

From the Prado manuscript: “Where is this infernal company going, filling the air with noise in the darkness of night? If it were daytime it would be quite a different matter and gun shots would bring the whole group of them to the ground; but as it is night, no one can see them.”

 

El Sueno de la Razon Produce Monstruos
(The Sleep of Reason Produces Monsters)
c. 1799

The sleep of reason produces monsters Francisco Goya Park West Gallery

“El sueno de la Razon produce Monstruos” (The sleep of reason produces monsters) (c. 1799), Francisco Goya

Perhaps the most iconic work from “Los Caprichos,” the sleeper is actually Goya himself. Large owls and bats flutter around the artist while a huge witch’s cat watches on. Goya’s reason is dulled by sleep and “bedeviled by creatures that prowl in the dark,” according to the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

From the Prado manuscript: “Imagination abandoned by reason produces impossible monsters: united with her, she is the mother of the arts and the source of their wonders.”

 

Donde va mama?
(Where is mother going?)
c. 1799

"Where is mother going?" (c. 1799), Francisco Goya

“Where is mother going?” (c. 1799), Francisco Goya

A witch carried and escorted by odd, goblin-like denizens. The creep factor is somewhat muted by the absurdity of the image, especially the cat desperately clinging to the parasol, but still, is this a mother you want to run into?

From the Prado manuscript: “Mother has dropsy and they have sent her on an outing. God willing, she may recover.”

 

Ya es Hora
(It is Time)
c. 1799

"It is Time" (c. 1799), Francisco Goya

“It is Time” (c. 1799), Francisco Goya

The final installation of Goya’s series is perhaps the most shocking, like the last startling image of a nightmare before waking. Goya blurs reality with fantasy, depicting men in clergy garments with gruesome faces.

From the Prado manuscript: “Then when dawn threatens, each one goes on his way, Witches, Hobgoblins, apparitions and phantoms. It is a good thing that these creatures do not allow themselves to be seen except at night and when it is dark! Nobody has been able to find out where they shut themselves up and hide during the day. If anyone could catch a denful of Hobgoblins and were to show it in a cage at 10 o’clock in the morning in the Puerto del Sol, he would need no other inheritance.”

Interested in learning more or collecting works from by Francisco Goya? Contact our gallery consultants at (800) 521-9654, ext. 4 during business hours or sales@parkwestgallery.com.

One Response to 7 Creepy Works from Francisco Goya’s ‘Los Caprichos’

  1. James Newton says:

    On a recent cruise we noticed a Goya etching “wait until you have been anointed”c 1799. Could you please advise when the etching was printed? Was it 1799 or a later edition, as many were printed in 1886 or later.

Leave a comment

Prove you\'re human. *

Latest News

  • 5 Tips on How to Overcome Creative Block From Professional Artists

    Creative block can strike at any time, stifling your inspiration and grinding your productivity to a halt. It’s something anyone who has tackled a creative project has experienced at one ...
    Read More
  • Meet the Artist: 10 Questions with England’s Clare Sykes

    Clare Sykes knows a thing or two about beauty.This astoundingly accomplished English artist is an expert when it comes to capturing the majesty of the natural world on canvas. ...
    Read More
  • These 12 Works of Art Will Help You Beat the Summer Heat

    Let’s face it, as much as we all yearned for warmer weather during this past winter and spring, this summer has been a hot one.If you feel as if ...
    Read More
  • Pablo Picasso: How One Spanish Artist Changed Art Forever [VIDEO]

      Why does everyone know ...
    Read More
  • Beating the Odds: Foster Care Support Programs Are Helping Youth Succeed at College

    Antwinae McNeil didn’t have a typical upbringing. Whereas most teens hang out with their friends or enjoying family meals, Antwinae worried if she would have a place to call home.At ...
    Read More
  • Auctioneer Spotlight: Ty and Gracie Braga

    Over and over again, Park West collectors have told us that one of the highlights of their collecting experience is the lasting friendships they develop with our art auctioneers and ...
    Read More
  • Stairway to Heaven: Fascinating New Salvador Dalí Exhibition Begins U.S. Tour

    Salvador Dalí is one of the most famous artists of the 20th century, but there are far more aspects to the artist’s career than just his notoriously mind-bending paintings.This ...
    Read More
  • Celebrate Independence Day with Our Summer Sale Americana Art

    In the United States, the Fourth of July stirs up patriotism in everyone. Regardless of your background or beliefs, Independence Day is a time for the country to come together ...
    Read More
  • Park West Recruiter Wins Big on ‘The Price is Right’

    Park West Gallery Recruiter Neil Nussbaum and his wife, Hannah, have always been huge fans of “The Price is Right.”When they first met, they bonded over their shared love ...
    Read More
  • Jerusalem Post Profiles ‘Icon’ Yaacov Agam for His 90th Birthday

    “There are only a few words that accurately describe Yaacov Agam,” says Park West Gallery Founder and CEO Albert Scaglione. “‘Innovator’, ‘genius’, and, yes, ‘icon.’ The man is definitely ...
    Read More
  • New Michael Godard Sale Features More Than 30 Unique Works

    As the “Rock Star of the Art World,” Michael Godard borrows a page from his musical counterparts by searching for new and innovative ways to express himself.“I’ve always admired ...
    Read More
  • Saving Lady Liberty: How Peter Max Helped Restore the Statue of Liberty

    Iconic Pop artist Peter Max has several recurring images that he’s returned to throughout his prolific career, but perhaps none are more famous than the Statue of Liberty. Max ...
    Read More