Reformist criticism
of the clergy's way of life

His criticism of the clergy appears overall to be of an attack on their day to day vices

Why to hide them? (Caprichos)
Despite its political implications, his criticism of the clergy appears to be more of an attack on their day to day vices rather than an ideological critique, although many writers have tried to interpret his works as being virulently anti-clerical.

His censure of the clergy's vices was shared by well known members of the ecclesiastical establishment. Padre Feijoo and Padre Isla dedicated a good part of their intellectual and pastoral life to denouncing any type of behaviour that was not in accordance with the principles of monastic life. Many of the best members of the 18th century Spanish Church concurred in demanding that their monastic brethren should preach by example and that they should live by Christian virtues. This was a recurrent theme throughout the history of the Spanish Church.

Goya's drawings and prints take a close look at the vices and bad habits of churchmen, especially those of the friars, who are invariably drawn so as to almost resemble repulsive goblins. It is noteworthy that his series faithfully followed the taxonomy of the teachings of the Church and thus caricatured the seven deadly sins, along with other excesses:

  • Avarice (C30, C49).
  • Greed (C13, C78, DH63, C79).
  • Sloth and unproductive luxury (C58, C80, DC8, DC124).
  • Lust and violence against women (C8, C74, C81).
  • Vengeance (C58).
  • Vanity and emptiness (Dib. C75, C53, C125).
  • The exploitation of popular faith by means of semi-superstitious practices and questionable evangelism such as the ex voto cult, the cults of images and relics and the over-liberal use of exorcisms (C47, C52, DG68, DF27, DF28, DC7).
  • The excessive ease with which the religious life is chosen (DC123, DC20).

See also:


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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