The interconnections of satire and censorship in Goya’s prints and drawings
in Changing satire
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Francisco de Goya (1746–1828) created a large body of penetrating satirical imagery from the 1790s onwards, beginning with his volume of prints, the Caprichos, and ending with several powerful drawings. The Caprichos was on the market only briefly, in early 1799, its withdrawal from sale likely the result of an indirect form of censorship, as early-nineteenth-century written commentaries on the prints suggest. In the decades that followed, Goya created groups of drawings, many satirical, that allude to works of literary satire prohibited by the Inquisition, including: Desiderius Erasmus’ influential Praise of Folly; the Spanish Renaissance literary classic La Celestina, attributed to Fernando de Rojas; and the lesser-known mid-eighteenth-century novel by José Francisco de Isla Fray Gerundio. The drawings were made during a tumultuous period in Spain’s history, in which the Inquisition was abolished for brief periods (1808–14 and 1820–3). Within and in response to this atmosphere of instability, Goya produced extraordinary satirical drawings that, like the earlier Caprichos, were searing commentaries on society but also on censorship. Goya’s multilayered approach to satire constituted a synthetic accrual of literary history, political history, censorship history and visual traditions, succinctly embodying satire’s continuities while significantly contributing to its transformations.

Changing satire

Transformations and continuities in Europe, 1600–1830

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