They who Cannot (1799) by Francisco Goya

They who Cannot - Francisco Goya - 1799

Artwork Information

TitleThey who Cannot
ArtistFrancisco Goya
Dimensions21.5 x 15.5 cm
Art MovementRomanticism
Current LocationPrivate Collection

About They who Cannot

The artwork “They who Cannot” by Francisco Goya, created in 1799, is an aquatint and etching on paper. It measures 21.5 x 15.5 cm and is a part of the “Los caprichos” series, which falls within the Romanticism art movement. While its current location is a private collection, this piece stands out as a significant caricature of the era that it was produced.

The artwork showcases Goya’s distinctive style, combining elements of satire and social commentary. It depicts two donkeys, one atop the other, with the top donkey seemingly oppressing or burdening the donkey below. Beneath these animals, two figures appear to be crushed or heavily laden by the weight above them. The facial expressions of the human figures evoke a sense of struggle or resignation. These layers of imagery create a powerful allegory that speaks to themes of power, burden, and the inescapable nature of certain societal conditions of the time. The darkness of the etching further contributes to the somber and critical tone of the piece, which reflects Goya’s often grim view of humanity and social norms. The inclusion of a caption in Spanish, “En que no puedes”, translates to “In which you cannot”, suggesting a sense of futility or impossibility that reinforces the overall message conveyed by the artwork.

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