ObeliskFrancisco de Goya y Lucientes

The Sleep Of Reason Produces Monsters

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

The Sleep Of Reason Produces Monsters is a Romantic Etching Print 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. Download

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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.”

Reed Enger, "The Sleep Of Reason Produces Monsters," in Obelisk Art History, Published January 21, 2017; last modified May 19, 2021, http://arthistoryproject.com/artists/francisco-jose-de-goya-y-lucientes/the-sleep-of-reason-produces-monsters/.

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