This certainly is reading (1799) by Francisco Goya

This certainly is reading - Francisco Goya - 1799

Artwork Information

TitleThis certainly is reading
ArtistFrancisco Goya
Dimensions21.5 x 15.5 cm
Art MovementRomanticism

About This certainly is reading

“This certainly is reading” is an artwork by Francisco Goya created in 1799, employing the mediums of aquatint and etching on paper. This piece is part of the “Los caprichos” series and embodies the Romanticism movement. The artwork’s dimensions measure 21.5 cm by 15.5 cm and it falls under the genre of caricature.

The artwork displays a central figure with wild, unkempt hair, exuding an intense focus, engrossed in reading material. The character leans forward, spectacles perched on the nose, suggesting a sense of deep concentration and perhaps scholarly devotion. As a caricature, the exaggerated features—such as the pronounced hair and the overemphasized facial expressions—serve to amplify the theme of the engraving, offering a commentary on society’s behaviors or norms during Goya’s time. The dark tones and shading surrounding the figure contribute to a sense of depth and drama, typical of the Romantic period’s emphasis on emotion and the individual’s experience. Shadows cast behind the figure create an ominous atmosphere, perhaps alluding to intellectual obscurity or the overwhelming power of knowledge. The Spanish inscription at the bottom of the piece, translating to “This really is reading?”, implies a satirical twist, questioning the nature or quality of what is being read or the act of reading itself. Goya’s work often contained layers of meaning, commenting on the social, political, and cultural issues of his era through visual allegory and sardonic wit.

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