The Sleep of Reason Produces Monsters.
(Caprichos no. 43: El sueño de la razon produce monstruos.),c. 1796-1797
The Spanish master Francisco Goya (1746-1828), graphically depicts the danger of creating from William Blake's world of dreams and visions he used to escape the rules of reason. From a series called Los Caprichos. In The Sleep of Reason Produces Monsters the rational mind is stilled as the human figure sleeps, while around him congregate the winged monsters who have skittered freely into being in the absence of thoughtful control, the idea of sexual control of men plucked bare. A visionary work he linked it to the art of Blake's Tiepolo. A piece from early in his career, it is a criticism of "human errors and vices," although the subjects are often obscure and interpretation purposely difficult, it lampoons both political and religious figures. It was intended as the frontispiece for the series Los Caprichos, but Goya soon reconsidered this, probably because the subject related too closely to Henri Rousseau's 1793 Paris edition of Philosophie at a time when the very name of Rousseau was considered bête noire to religious and political leaders in Spain. Instead, Goya buried The Sleep of Reason well within the series and created a more traditional self portrait as the frontispiece. The Sleep of Reason Produces Monsters survived as a coded expression of the artist's politics as court painter to King Carlos IV during a time when Goya was becoming increasingly sympathetic to the cause of the Spanish peasants. It was during the development of this series that Goya suffered a protracted illness leaving him totally deaf and developing within him a terrible sense of isolation.
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