|Goya's treatment of begging, a classic theme in Spanish painting, fluctuated between gentle criticism, commiseration and traditional treatment of the subject
May God forgive her: And she was her mother (Caprichos)
|Goya's treatment of begging, a classic theme in Spanish painting, fluctuated between gentle criticism, commiseration and traditional treatment of the subject. The dehumanising caricatures of the friars, transformed by the painter into repulsive goblins, or his depiction of the ill-educated nobility as plump asses, are not to be seen in his realistic representation of beggars.
If one looks at his prints on the subject with unprejudiced eyes, one finds a sense of humour (Drawings C. 35, C. 34, etc.) that is very different from his other drawings and prints, which are full of bitterness and misery and seem to constitute as it were a bitter guffaw at human failings and the miseries of life. For Goya it seems that true innocence could only be find in childhood, in complete abandonment, or madness.
Goya very clearly showed understanding for the mad (Drawing C.34), the crippled (Drawing G.29), war victims (E.c.) and the aged, who after a life of work had nothing left (Drawing F.69) He says as much in drawing C.28 I won't interfere with these.
It is true that he denounced the misery that was created by drink (Drawing C.36), greed (C.56) and idleness (Drawing C.1). However, if Goya wanted to transmit one clear message with force, it was that begging was the only mode of survival for too many people, and that those who refused to give a penny were wolves (Drawing H.5), who were capable of refusing to help their own mothers (Capricho 16).
Alcalá Flecha, Roberto. Literatura e ideología en el arte de Goya. Zaragoza: Diputación General de Aragón, 1988.
Francisco Javier García Marco
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