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The Sleep of Reason Produces Monsters (El sueño de la razon produce monstruos)
Plate 43 from the series Los Caprichos (The Caprices)

Francisco José de Goya y Lucientes, Spanish, 1746 - 1828

Printed in Madrid, Spain, Europe

1797-1798, published 1799

Etching and aquatint

Plate: 8 3/8 x 5 7/8 inches (21.3 x 14.9 cm)

Curatorial Department:
Prints, Drawings, and Photographs

Object Location:

Currently not on view

Accession Number:

Credit Line:
Purchased with the SmithKline Beckman Corporation Fund, 1949

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Often viewed as a self-portrait, this print conveys the struggle between reason and imagination that shaped Goya’s artistic vision. His contemporaries would have recognized the watchful lynx and ominous bats and owls that swarm around the sleeping artist as symbols of ignorance and evil.

Goya originally considered using this print as the introductory plate for Los Caprichos, but settled on the more traditional self-portrait. Ultimately published in the middle of the album, this print epitomizes the prevailing message of the series, a warning of what happens in the world when reason is absent.