Little goblins (1799) by Francisco Goya

Little goblins - Francisco Goya - 1799

Artwork Information

TitleLittle goblins
ArtistFrancisco Goya
Dimensions21.5 x 15.5 cm
Art MovementRomanticism

About Little goblins

The artwork “Little goblins” is a captivating work by the illustrious artist Francisco Goya, dated to the year 1799. This piece belongs to the series “Los Caprichos” and is executed through the mediums of aquatint and etching on paper. The piece measures 21.5 cm by 15.5 cm and is classified within the genre of caricature, reflecting the Romanticism art movement. Romanticism was typically characterized by its emphasis on emotion, individualism, and the awe of nature, often diverging from the formal constraints of the preceding Neoclassicism.

In this particular artwork, one observes a grotesque scene replete with figures that resemble goblins partaking in what appears to be a nocturnal gathering. The scene is dominated by darkness, with the exception of minimal light sources that starkly illuminate the subjects, creating an atmosphere of eerie foreboding. At the forefront, one creature is seated on the floor, engrossed in consuming from a bowl, almost oblivious to its surroundings. To its right stands another figure with a distorted, grinning face, gesturing animatedly with its hand outstretched, possibly engaging in conversation or storytelling. The garments and postures of the figures are exaggerated, enhancing their caricatured and supernatural qualities.

Behind this pair, another figure looms, partially enshrouded by the darkness, bearing a somber expression and holding a cup. This figure seems to be detached from the primary interaction between the two more animated subjects. The background features an arched window, its bars casting linear shadows that contribute to the confining and claustrophobic sensation of the room. These elements combine to create a sense of depth and ominous overtones, suggestive of a narrative that lurks beneath the surface.

Goya’s adept handling of the aquatint and etching mediums imbues the scene with texture and contrast, while the intricate details of the figures’ expressions and attire speak to the artist’s acute observational skills. The artwork criticizes societal norms through its fantastical portrayal of goblins, indicative of the artist’s propensity for satire and his inclination to comment on the folly and vices apparent in human nature and society at large during his time.

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