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    Sale 2460 | Lot 203
    Price Realized: $106,250With Buyer's Premium
    Show Hammer Price
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    • Sale 2460 Lot 203

      Los Caprichos.

      Bound volume with set of 79 (of 80) etchings with aquatint, circa 1799. Each approximately 210x155 mm; 8 1/4x6 1/8 inches, full margins. The first edition. One of only approximately 300 sets made for the artist and first offered for sale in 1799. Original full mottled calf binding with the title and artist's name in gilt on a green calf strip on the spine and marbled end papers (according to Harris, how the first sets were bound for Goya). Brilliant, richly-inked, dark and early impressions with strong contrasts and with the different aquatint tones and burnishing of the plates distinct throughout, exceedingly scarce in this early issue.

      Through the images in this important set of etchings with aquatint, Goya (1746-1828) condemned the universal follies and foolishness in the Spanish society in which he lived, lambasting members of both the aristocracy and clergy. He advertised the set for sale on February 6, 1799, through a bookstore near his studio in Madrid.

      Goya's original prospectus describes the set as, "A series of prints of whimsical subjects, invented and etched by Don Francisco Goya. The artist, persuaded that the censure of human errors and vices—though it seems to belong properly to oratory and poetry—may also be the object of painting, has chosen as appropriate subjects for his work, among the multitude of extravagances and follies which are common throughout civilized society, and among vulgar prejudices and frauds rooted in custom, ignorance, or interest, those which he has believed to be most apt to provide an occasion for ridicule and at the same time to exercise his imagination." It further proposes that the subjects of each of the prints are imaginary and that none ridicule any specific individual.

      Nevertheless, Goya withdrew the series from sale before the end of 1799, fearing retribution from the monarchy and Inquisition. Records indicate that he sold only 27 of the proposed 300 sets, a significant failure and money loss for the artist. In 1803, he offered the Caprichos copper plates and the first edition unsold sets to King Charles IV. Many of the unsold, printed sets were discarded or destroyed, as a result complete sets of the first edition, in the original artist's binding, such as this current set, are extremely scarce. The copper plates were later housed in the Calcografía Nacional, Madrid, and posthumous impressions of the series were printed from around 1855 to 1937 (see lot 207). Lacking plate 68, Linda maestra!. Delteil 38-117; Harris 36-115.

      Estimate $70,000 - 100,000

      Price Realized (with Buyer's Premium) $106,250