Series/Portfolio: Los Caprichos
Artist: Goya (Francisco de Goya y Lucientes) (Spanish, Fuendetodos 1746–1828 Bordeaux)
Medium: Etching, burnished aquatint and burin
Dimensions: Plate: 8 1/2 × 5 7/8 in. (21.6 × 15 cm)
Sheet: 11 9/16 × 8 1/4 in. (29.4 × 21 cm)
Credit Line: Gift of M. Knoedler & Co., 1918
Accession Number: 18.64(12)
This is plate number 12 from the series of Goya's 80 aquatint etchings published as Los Caprichos in 1799. Here a young woman pulls the teeth from a hanged man because of their value in sorcery. She stands on tip-toes and covers her face in fear. Goya uses the aquatint and contrasting white ground of the paper to great effect in creating dramatic nocturnal effects. Goya treated the subject of superstition and witchcraft in a number of prints in the series. A manuscript dating to around 1799-1803, provides explanations for each plate. The explanation for this plate reads '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.' The basis for many of the prints in the Caprichos can be found in an album of drawings Goya made in Madrid around 1796-98 that is now broken up (known as Album B) sixteen of which are in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum.