Goya’s “Disasters of War” sold for 30,000

goya war

Tell me why, tell me why: Among the best-sellers of the auction of 19th and 20th-century French literature from the Aristophil collection co-organized by Artcurial last week in Paris was Francisco de Goya’s “Disasters of War,” in one of a limited edition of 500 copies of the album of 80 aquatint and eau-forte engravings. Published in 1863 by the Real Academia de Nobles Artes de San Fernando in Madrid, the book graphically illustrates the horrors which followed Napoleon’s invasion of Spain between 1808 and 1814, in particular General Murat’s brutal repression of the Madrid rebellion of May 2, 1808. Goya depicts, with grand eloquence, scenes of famine, massacres, rapes, fusilades, morsels of cadavres, and the dead being picked apart. No doubt deemed too provocative for the public during the epoch in which Goya made the engravings, between 1810 and 1820, they were never printed during his lifetime. Preserved by the artist’s son, the copper plates were purchased in 1862 by the San Fernando Academy of Madrid and printed a year later. Estimated pre-auction at between 12,000 and 15,000 Euros, the book sold last Tuesday for 30,330 Euros. Image copyright and courtesy Artcurial. The caption of the above engraving translates, of course, as “Why?”