Tantalus (1799) by Francisco Goya

Tantalus - Francisco Goya - 1799

Artwork Information

ArtistFrancisco Goya
Dimensions21.5 x 15.5 cm
Art MovementRomanticism
Current LocationPrivate Collection

About Tantalus

The artwork titled “Tantalus” is a creation of Francisco Goya from the year 1799. Crafted using aquatint and etching on paper, it forms part of the “Los caprichos” series, a seminal work in the Romanticism movement. The artwork measures 21.5 x 15.5 cm, and is characterized as a caricature, emphasizing elements of satire or moral critique, which is typical of the caprichos series. Currently, “Tantalus” is held within a private collection.

In the artwork, two central figures are depicted in a state of distress and horror. The etching portrays a figure lying supine on the ground, appearing lifeless or swooning, with a sense of limpness and vulnerability. Meanwhile, an adjacent figure crouches with a profoundly anguished expression, with hands clasped to the sides of the face in a universal gesture of despair or terror. The background is minimal, featuring what appears to be the outline of a simplistic structure or perhaps some natural formations. The contrast between dark and light areas in the composition conveys a dramatic tension, enhancing the unsettling atmosphere and emotional intensity typified by Goya’s work during this period. The rendering of these figures is executed with a strong sense of realism, yet the exaggerated emotions suggest a deeper, allegorical meaning in line with Goya’s penchant for critique through the arts.

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