Trivium Art HistoryFrancisco de Goya y Lucientes

The Sleep Of Reason Produces Monsters

The Sleep Of Reason Produces Monsters, 1799 — Francisco de Goya y Lucientes
15.2 cm21.8 cm

The Sleep Of Reason Produces Monsters is a Romantic, Etching Printmaking created by Francisco de Goya y Lucientes in 1799. It lives in a private collection. The image is in the Public Domain, and tagged Demons, Sleep, Monsters, and Allegory.

In 1797 Francisco Goya created 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.”

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