What value? (1812 – 1814) by Francisco Goya

What value? - Francisco Goya - 1812 - 1814

Artwork Information

TitleWhat value?
ArtistFrancisco Goya
Date1812 - 1814
Art MovementRomanticism

About What value?

The artwork in question is a provocative etching and aquatint on paper created by Francisco Goya between 1812 and 1814. It forms part of the “The Disasters of War” series, a collection distinguished by its vivid Romanticism style and often regarded as caricature due to its expressive and critical nature. The illustration is steeped in the historical context of wartime suffering and criticism of societal values.

In the artwork, we observe a powerful contrast between technology and humanity, weaponry and life. A cannon dominates the scene, conveying the destructive power of war, while the figure of a woman stands atop a mass of what appears to be human casualties, rendering the scene harrowing and poignant. The woman’s stance atop the cannon could be interpreted as a statement on the futility of war or the intertwined relationship between human agency and the machinery of conflict. The casualties scattered beneath her and the cannon depict the grim cost of such conflicts.

The composition utilizes stark, powerful lines to relay a sense of despair and criticism inherent to the era in which the series was produced. Goya, through this particular work, not only epitomizes the essence of Romanticism, with its focus on powerful emotions and societal critique, but also provides a timeless commentary on the consequences of war, transcending the specific historical moment of its creation.

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