No se puede saber por qué – One can’t tell why


Francisco José de Goya y Lucientes (1746 Fuendetodos – Bordeaux 1828),  No se puede saber por qué  – One can’t tell why    ca. 1808–1814,  etching, burnished aquatint, drypoint, and burin on laid paper; 155 x 203 mm (6 1/8 x 8 inches),  Harris 155.I.2 (of III.7)


Infante Don Sebastian de Borbón y Braganza

Georges Provôt, Paris; his sale, Hôtel Drouot, April 10, 1935, lot 64

Tomás Harris, London (not in Lugt)

private collection, Germany

A fine, rich proof impression for plate 35 of Los Desastres de la Guerra, before numbers, letters, and before additional drypoint and burin work.

No impression of state I.1 (before the aquatint) is known nor are any proof impressions with numbers (Harris’ hypothetical state I.3) known. Harris lists nine impressions of state I.2, including this one.  This is a lifetime impression; the edition was published posthumously.

No less than eight convicts are about to be garroted. Each man clutches a crucifix—a sign that they have already made their last confession. Their crime—ownership of a weapon— is announced on placards hanging around their necks, alongside the weapons themselves. Many Spanish citizens were executed this way. Their crimes were not only murder and armed robbery; suspicion of espionage for the insurgents or any other support for them was sufficient to subject the accused to this cruel fate.

An impression from the First Edition is shown below, for comparison purposes (this impression is also available)