In The Picture: Goya's Disasters of War at the Chester Beatty
Francisco Goya’s Disasters of War prints depict the guerrilla warfare, famine and political disillusionment which followed Napoleon Bonaparte’s invasion of Spain in 1808. They contain some of the most brutally graphic images of war ever produced.
A master draftsman and printmaker, Goya produced compelling compositions using sparse line combined with strong light and dark shadow. His poignant observations of human suffering help mitigate the scenes of extreme violence and these powerful works still affect and shock audiences today. Indeed, as a record of the atrocities of war, the etchings are often regarded as the predecessors of modern photo journalism.
Goya worked on the plates for these etchings between 1810 and 1820 but, owing to the repressive regime of King Ferdinand VII, they were not published until thirty-five years after the artist's death. The Chester Beatty Library holds the entire collection of 80 prints (from the second edition of 1892), of which half will be highlighted in their current exhibition.
Francisco Goya’s Disasters of War prints are on display at the Chester Beatty Library, Dublin, until 21 January 2018 - more details here.