Plate 43 from 'Los Caprichos': The sleep of reason produces monsters (El sueño de la razon produce monstruos)

Series/Portfolio: Los Caprichos

Artist: Goya (Francisco de Goya y Lucientes) (Spanish, Fuendetodos 1746–1828 Bordeaux)

Date: 1799

Medium: Etching, aquatint, drypoint, and burin

Dimensions: Plate: 8 3/8 x 5 15/16 in. (21.2 x 15.1 cm)
Sheet: 11 5/8 x 8 1/4 in. (29.5 x 21 cm)

Classification: Prints

Credit Line: Gift of M. Knoedler & Co., 1918

Accession Number: 18.64(43)


This is the best known image from Goya's series of 80 aquatint etchings published in 1799 known as 'Los Caprichos' that are generally understood as the artist's criticism of the society in which he lived. Goya worked on the series from around 1796-98 and many drawings for the prints survive. The inscription on the preparatory drawing for this print, now in the Prado Museum in Madrid, indicates that it was originally intended as the title page to the series. In the published edition, this print became plate 43, the number we can see in the top right corner. Nevertheless, it has come to symbolise the overall meaning of the series, what happens when reason is absent. Various animals including bats and owls fly above the sleeping artist, and at the lower right a lynx watches vigilantly alerting us to the rise of monstrous forces that we are able to control when sleep descends.