Fuerte cosa es! – That’s tough!
Francisco José de Goya y Lucientes (1746 Fuendetodos – Bordeaux 1828), Fuerte cosa es! – That’s tough! ca. 1808–1814, etching, burnished aquatint, and drypoint on laid paper; 155 x 203 mm (6 1/16 x 8 inches), Harris 151.I.3 (of III.7)
Infante Don Sebastian de Borbón y Braganza
Georges Provôt, Paris;
his sale, Hôtel Drouot, April 10, 1935, lot 60
private collection, Germany
Proof impression for plate 31 of Los Desastres de la Guerra, with the earlier number 32 in the lower left corner, before additional drypoint work and border lines.
No impression of state I.1 (before the aquatint) is known and only one impression (Paris, Bibliothèque nationale) of state I.2 (before any numbers). Harris list lists eight impressions of state I.3, including this one.
Goya’s Desastres was conceived in three phases. One group depicts scenes from the famine that raged in Madrid in the winter of 1811–12 as a result of the French occupation. Another group was created between 1820 and 1823, a late addition to the set and mainly consisting of more allegorical scenes. The two prints presented here belong to the earliest and largest group of prints, etched between 1808 and 1814. These images present the most direct reflection of the effects and cruelties of the war with France.
The grim-looking mamelouck fighter is about to return his saber to its sheath. One of his fellow French soldiers tugs at the boots of one of the two corpses hanging from the tree on the right. Behind him another soldier is apparently attacking a woman. Goya’s title here can only be cynical.