Francisco de Goya, ‘Fuerte cosa es! – That’s tough!  A Lifetime Proof’, 1808-1814, Harris Schrank Fine Prints

Francisco José de Goya y Lucientes (1746 Fuendetodos – Bordeaux 1828), Fuerte cosa es! – That’s tough! ca. 1808–1814, etching, burnished aquatint, and drypoint on laid paper; 155 x 203 mm (6 1/16 x 8 inches), Harris 151.I.3 (of III.7)

watermark: Serra

Infante Don Sebastian de Borbón y Braganza
Georges Provôt, Paris;
his sale, Hôtel Drouot, April 10, 1935, lot 60
private collection, Germany

Proof impression for plate 31 of Los Desastres de la Guerra, with the earlier number 32 in the lower left corner, before additional drypoint work and border lines.

No impression of state I.1 (before the aquatint) is known and only one impression (Paris, Bibliothèque nationale) of state I.2 (before any numbers). Harris list lists eight impressions of state I.3, including this one.

Goya’s Desastres was conceived in three phases. One group depicts scenes from the famine that raged in Madrid in the winter of 1811–12 as a result of the French occupation. Another group was created between 1820 and 1823, a late addition to the set and mainly consisting of more allegorical scenes. The two prints presented here belong to the earliest and largest group of prints, etched between 1808 and 1814. These images present the most direct reflection of the effects and cruelties of the war with France.

The grim-looking mamelouck fighter is about to return his saber to its sheath. One of his fellow French soldiers tugs at the boots of one of the two corpses hanging from the tree on the right. Behind him another soldier is apparently attacking a woman. Goya’s title here can only be cynical.

About Francisco de Goya

The tempestuous works of Francisco de Goya distinguish him as the most important Spanish painter of his time. Among his contemporaries, he was best known for his lighthearted tapestry cartoons of leisure activities, subtle satirical etchings of the bourgeoisie, and penetratingly psychological portraits of the aristocracy. Having survived an unknown illness that left him deaf and witnessed the atrocities committed during Napoleon’s occupation, which are hauntingly portrayed in the mass execution of Spanish civilians in The Third of May 1808, Goya went on to create some of his most somber, chilling images with his late “Black Paintings,” which were painted directly onto the walls of his home. Now recognized as a harbinger of modern art, Goya influenced numerous artists, including Pablo Picasso in the creation of his masterpiece Guernica (1937).

Spanish, 1746-1828, Fuendetodos, Spain, based in Madrid, Spain