The Disaster of War

TitleThe Disaster of War
Publication TypeMiscellaneous
Year of Publication1937
AuthorsGoya, Francis de
Place PublishedLondon

Francisco Goya created “The Disasters of War” from 1810-1820. These 80 etchings and aquatints show scenes from the Spanish struggle against the French army under Napolean Bonaparte, who invaded Spain in 1808. When Napolean tried to install his brother Joseph Bonaparte, as King of Spain, the Spanish fought back, eventually aided by the British and the Portugese. Goya’s prints explore the horrifying consequences of this kind of guerilla warfare, and the famine that followed it. The French army is often shown by Goya as disorganized force, leaderless and cruel. However, the most surprizing innovation in his series is the emphasis Goya placed on war’s power to dehumanize everyone involved. the brutality of the two armies was equaled by the fury of the Spanish people. In some of the panels in this series such as, “And they are like wild beasts”, it is shocking to realize that the “beasts” are not the army but Spanish women fiercely fighting to protect themselves and their children from a group of French soldiers.

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