Previous Next Facebook Instagram Twitter Pinterest Back to top
up to and including 23 September 2018

Francisco Goya - Disasters of War

This summer, the Print Room hosts a series of etching by the Spanish artist Francisco José de Goya y Lucientes (1746-1828), ‘Los Desastres de la Guerra’ (Disasters of War). It's a rare opportunity to see the entire series of eighty prints in the Netherlands. By displaying all the prints together, a better sense of how the series evolves is given. This exhibition is a reprise. sd the exhibition , by .

The etchings were printed from eighty copper plates made by Goya between 1810 and 1820. Several editions were printed from the plates; the eighty etchings in the collection of Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen come from the first edition (1863). The captions on several etchings contain spelling errors that were corrected in later editions. 

Because numerous impressions were made from the plates, over the years the plates became damaged. As a result the later prints are of a poorer quality. On the relatively early examples in the museum’s collection it is possible to identify the various printmaking techniques that Goya employed.

About Francisco Goya

In ‘Los Desastres de la Guerra’ Goya provided a commentary on the Peninsular War (1808-1814) and the events shortly afterwards. The etchings show how the army mistreated the Spanish people. His critical stance made it dangerous to sell the etchings in this period. During the production of the copper plates Goya made impressions only to check that the results were as he desired. The large-scale printing of the etchings took place long after Goya’s death, when the copper plates were sold to the Royal Academy of Fine Arts of San Fernando in Madrid. The first edition was published by the Academy in 1863, thirty-five years after the artist’s death. Various other editions followed.

Prints and drawings

The museum has a large collection of prints and drawings. The collection of approximately 20,000 drawings and 60,000 prints has been assembled thanks to gifts from various private collectors. One of these was Adriaan Jacob Domela Nieuwenhuis, who donated some 3000 works in 1923, including the series ‘Disasters of War’ by Francisco José de Goya y Lucientes.