A Room for Francisco Goya – English version

A room for Francisco Goya: the sleep of reason

Villa Bernasconi: “While I am waiting for Parolario to start, I thought to host in one of my rooms a great master, the Spanish artist Francisco Goya, who in his works of art has always included elements to stimulate his contemporaries to oppose the not appropriate ways of living which are innate in human nature.”

Francisco José de Goya y Lucientes (Fuendetodos, Spain 1746 – Bordeaux, France 1828) is the artist who has been investigating and represented the most human miseries. He was a great painter as well as a distinguished engraver. It was exactly thanks to his artwork, which he has experimented a lot with masterfully, that he has produced series of works of great importance: 80 engravings of the Caprichos series created between 1796 and 1798; 83 of the Desastres de la guerra (1810-1815); 33 scenes of the Tauromaquia; 18 of Los disparates (1815-1823).

The engravings in the rooms of Villa Bernasconi, based on these series, focalise on behaviours that men take on when they lose their senses. And Goya himself says and highlights in his works of art that “the sleep of reason generates monsters”.

The visitors will find themselves compared with representations of immense power and dramatic expression that express the condemnation for the surrender of humanity to actions that now ripen for the violence of war, because of social oppression or for thirst for power, or individual egoism.  That’s how man transforms himself in a monster and becomes unrecognisable even to himself.

We become aware of the vices and the follies that Goya enacts in his engravings with a reference to society of his time, between 1700s and 1800s, and they are not so different from what happens nowadays.

The reflections that can be gathered from the visit in “A room for Francisco Goya” can be considered an introduction to the 2024 edition of Parolario which will have as a dominant theme FOLLIA! And will take place from 4th June until 9th of June and from 14th June to 16th June in Cernobbio, right here at Villa Bernasconi.

Why hiding them? Caprichos, 30

The old greedy. The desire for success renders the greedy paranoid and they feel surrounded by hallucinating and hallucinated figures. Hence the fear. Who are they? The heirs that probably wait with those mocking smiles for the old man to come, knowing that they still have to wait for very little time.

It’s time Caprichos, 80

Goya represents figures, among which friars in a mixture of human and beastly, who yawn, stretch out, scream. The scream that comes out of their mouths seems to fill the whole. And it is not a scream of rebellion or insurrection, but of subjugation and power. By getting back a never dormant hope, he sends out a message: it is time to make a clean sweep of these characters!

Not even Desastres de la Guerra, 36

Not even of these hangings can we know the causes. It is the period of war between Spain and France. The streets turn into gallows and the dead bodies are left in the place of the killing as a warning for the others. The French soldier appears simply bored, impatient to leave. There is no compassion in war. The hanged person is at this point powerless and no one worries about those pants leg he cannot hold up anymore.


Cruel pain Desastres de la guerra, 48

War brings about famine. Here is a man now powerless in front of the consequences of it. There is no longer an enemy to rebel against, against whom pour out one’s anger. And everything seems to stop. Either in death or in the attempt to save the last energies left. Here it is evident that the loneliness of the desperate man who asks for help, while the wife at his feet holds a famished baby and in front some powerless bodies or dead bodies can be seen.

The worst thing is begging Desastres de la Guerra, 55

The girl, as we can deduce from her attitude and head inclination, intimidated and agitated next to the group of skeletal characters that seek to get a chunk of bread. She goes away, probably towards the French soldier of who we get a glimpse of in the background.

Deathbeds Desastres de la Guerra, 62

The big room of the monastery or the rocks of a cloister are the last bed for many corpses pending a burial. An expanse of bundles wrapped in sheets, a lot of static, silent presences. A figure seems to watch over them and it is wrapped in sheets itself. It seems to want to lock up its pain and despair in this jury-rigged cloak, which seems to divide the obscurity that covers everything.

Madness of fear Disparates (Follies), 2

Dual narrative. Here is an episode that could recall Desastres de la Guerra with a group of terrified soldiers who seek escape. A kind of giant, who is wrapped in an ample garment that hides its face and limbs, dominates everything and bends over one of them. An empty, unreliable character who is charged with meaning and who gathers in itself feelings of guilt and who creates terror due to its massiveness in all those that should be the representative of a power destined to impose their will by force. Even the soldiers are frightened!

Madness of the sacked Disparates (Follies), 8

All in sacks, unable to act. The political connotation of this kind of satire can be seen in the left part of the scene, in the attitude of the characters who reverently crowd around a figure posing as a great man, strutting in a mannered demeanor that is supposed to depict his elevated social position and thus worthy of respect and consideration. Yet – Goya seems to suggest – he, too, is locked in the sack, caught in the net and unable to act freely. His merits or nobility were of no avail. He is a victim, like everyone else, of the king’s reactionary decisions. One seems to hear Goya comment under his breath, “Serves him right.”

Quiet Madness / Loyalty Disparates (Follies), (17)

A kind of slow dance around a strange, dim, stupid-looking character. Loyalty to the point of foolishness? This may be the goal of the ignorant person who blindly relies on the words of others. Thus, he ends up being deaf to everything, even the taunts and mockery directed at him. It remains quite airtight, however, this engraving, with the insubstantial actor being accosted by a small dog, the ultimate symbol of loyalty. The presence of the syringe appearing to his right remains to be investigated.

adminA Room for Francisco Goya – English version