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The Sleep Of Reason Produces Monsters

Francisco de Goya y Lucientes, 1799

The Sleep Of Reason Produces Monsters, 1799 — Francisco de Goya y Lucientes,

In 1797 Francisco Goya created a series of 80 etchings that laid out a scathing critique of pre-enlightenment Spain. Illustrating the damaging effects of superstition, arraigned marriage, and a wasteful ruling class, Goya’s Los Caprichos was a tour-de-force second only to his Horrors of War.

Plate #43 of Los Ccaprichos is called The Sleep of Reason Produces Monsters — a sleeping man haunted by a chaotic flock of wide-eyed owls, animals symbolizing mystery and evil in Spanish folklore. The epigraph for the work contains a warning:

“Fantasy abandoned by reason produces impossible monsters: united with reason, fantasy is the mother of the arts and the origin of their marvels.”

Submitted by Reed Enger

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