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Exhibition Art in Action: Herblock and Fellow Artists Respond to Their Times

Francisco de Goya y Lucientes (1746–1828). El sueño de la razon produce monstruos [The Sleep of Reason Produces Monsters], from Los Caprichos [The Caprices], 1868, third edition, originally published 1799. Etching and aquatint. Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress (038.00.00)

The Artist's Dream

Francisco de Goya’s hallucinatory self-portrait depicts a sleeping man surrounded by bats and other nocturnal creatures. Goya’s preliminary drawing for the image, in the collection of the Museo del Prado, is annotated:

Universal Language: The Author Dreaming, his only intention is to banish prejudicial vulgarities and bear firm witness, with this work of fancy, to the truth.

In his Los Caprichos etching series, Goya took aim at society and its institutions, the perils of ignorance and superstition, and personal dynamics from courtship to parenting.