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Disasters of war

Disasters of war

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Disasters of War is a series of prints by the Spanish painter Francisco Goya. Art historians divide it into three main themes: war, famine, and political and cultural allegories. The engravings' chronology is established by identifying specific incidents described in the prints and analyzing the sets of plates used. Goya generally follows the order of creation in his numbering, but there are notable exceptions, such as the first print completed after the end of the war.

At the start of the series, Goya appears to support the Spanish partisans who are against the French occupiers. However, this distinction gradually disappears. The titles of the prints raise about the intentions of the enemies, creating a persistent ambiguity in the last of prints. The consequences of war are depicted explicitly, exposing the horrors of life through scenes of mutilation and violence. This text depicts the horrors of war in a manner similar to other European artistic traditions.

One print, titled Esto es peor (meaning 'This is worse'), portrays the mutilated body of a Spanish soldier impaled on a tree, surrounded by the of French soldiers. Goya drew inspiration from the Torso from the Belvedere and intensified the darkness of the image by incorporating compositional elements. The man's nudity is a significant violation in nineteenth-century Spain, marked by the Inquisition.

The prints feature recurring themes, such as vaulted porches, crossroads symbolising social disparities, and hills bearing the dead. Goya abandoned colour in favour of line, believing that this gave a cruder expression of reality. This immediate and urgent approach aimed to reveal the primitive side of human .

Goya's Disasters of War series followed his other engraved works, including Los caprichos. The latter was quickly withdrawn after threats from the Inquisition. Goya temporarily gave up engraving but returned with Disasters of War, which he created to complete an uncommissioned series. This series is notable for its realistic portrayal of the horrors of war, in stark contrast to the glorification of military might.

Goya produced several major series while working on Disasters of War. One of these was La tauromaquia, a series about bullfighting with no political . Another was Les Disparates, which remained unfinished. The motivation these series reflects a change in Goya's approach. He began working more for his personal satisfaction than for his contemporary audience. Although he had witnessed many scenes of war, the prints are the fruit of his imagination. They incorporate fantastical elements and draw on his personal life.

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