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The Sleep of Reason Produces Monsters

The Sleep of Reason Produces Monsters (Spanish: El sueño de la razón produce monstruos) is an etching by the Spanish painter and printmaker Francisco Goya. Created between 1797 and 1799,[1] it is the 43rd of 80 etchings making up the suite of satires Los Caprichos.[2]

The Sleep of Reason Produces Monsters
Spanish: El sueño de la razón produce monstruos
Francisco José de Goya y Lucientes - The sleep of reason produces monsters (No. 43), from Los Caprichos - Google Art Project.jpg
Artist Francisco Goya
Year c. 1799
Type Etching, aquatint, drypoint and burin
Dimensions 21.5 cm × 15 cm (​8 716 in × ​5 78 in)
Location Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

Goya imagines himself asleep amidst his drawing tools, his reason dulled by slumber and bedeviled by creatures that prowl in the dark. The work includes owls that may be symbols of folly and bats symbolizing ignorance. The artist's nightmare reflected his view of Spanish society, which he portrayed in the Caprichos as demented, corrupt, and ripe for ridicule.[3] The work is held at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and was the gift of M. Knoedler & Co. in 1918.[4]

The full epigraph for capricho No. 43 reads; "Fantasy abandoned by reason produces impossible monsters: united with her (reason), she (fantasy) is the mother of the arts and the origin of their marvels."[5]

The title of C. P. Snow's The Sleep of Reason, tenth book in his "Strangers and Brothers" series[6], and a Doctor Who book are drawn from this print. It also inspired the cover of the Andrew Miller novel Pure, as well as the 2017 album by Swedish djent band Meshuggah, entitled "The violent sleep of reason".

Occasionally the title phrase is rendered as "The dream of reason produces monsters", since the Spanish word "sueño" can mean either "sleep" or "dream". However, Goya's epigraph makes it clear that his intended interpretation is "the sleep of reason".

Preparatory drawingsEdit


Further readingEdit

External linksEdit