A Giant Seated in a Landscape, sometimes called 'The Colossus'

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

Date: by 1818

Medium: Burnished aquatint with scraping and strokes of 'lavis' added along the top of the landscape and within the landscape

Dimensions: Plate: 11 3/16 × 8 3/16 in. (28.4 × 20.8 cm)

Classification: Prints

Credit Line: Harris Brisbane Dick Fund, 1935

Accession Number: 35.42


One of Goya’s most striking images, the implicit subject of this work is unclear. A giant seated in a landscape turns his head over his shoulder as if he has been disturbed from thought. Perhaps he had been awaiting the dawning of a new day and turns because the moment has come. The Spanish master produced this print using burnished aquatint to achieve subtle effects of light and dark—an apt technique for depicting a crepuscular atmosphere and conveying the sense of unease that pervades the composition.

It is not known exactly when Goya made this print. It has been dated to around 1800 or ‘by 1818'. There is a close relationship between the print and the famous painting of the 'Colossus' in the Museo del Prado, Madrid. Both works show the same figure. The painting has always been attributed to Goya, but in 2008 it was assigned by the Prado Museum as a studio work and not by the master himself. There is no consensus and disagreement continues. The print is critical in the debate about the authorship of the painting. If the painting is a studio work then the artist borrowed the figure of Colossus from Goya’s print. Given his imagination and originality, it seems highly unlikely that Goya would borrow the figure from someone else’s painting to use in his print.