Date of Work
Art & Design Study Collection
UND Art Collections Repository
Francisco Goya’s highly emotional images of suffering and despair were an important influence on later artists of the Romantic era. In his public life, Goya was a renowned artist who painted numerous portraits of the Spanish elite. His career reached its high point when he was appointed official court painter for King Charles IV. Privately, however, he was working in a very different style, creating small works that were not publicly exhibited. These works focus on the dark side of humanity, exploring themes of helplessness and confinement, suggesting that the Enlightenment had not lived up to its promise.
Late in his life, Goya created a series of prints called the Disasters of War, which were not published until 35 years after his death. The series departs markedly from the heroic depictions of warfare that had traditionally been the subject of art. Instead, Goya focused on the devastation that ordinary people suffer as a result of conflict—a reality that Goya knew all too well, as he lived through a period of near-constant political upheaval and war. The composition of Duro es el Paso (plate 14 from Disasters of War) evokes images of the Crucifixion from Christian tradition, turning a depiction of an execution into a scene of martyrdom.