Nadie Se Conoce (Nobody knows himself), Plate 6; etching and aquatint

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Goya, Francisco, 1746-1828
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Nobody Knows Himself, Plate 6 from The Caprices; Etching [129]
"The world is a masquerade. Face, dress, and voice, all are false. All wish to appear what they are not, all deceive and do not even know themselves." (Goya, Commentary on "The Caprices")
From the earliest of Goya's series, "The Caprices", "Nobody knows Himself" was published by the artist in 1799. The series was not of great appeal at the time of its publication and Goya eventually sold the copper plates to the king of Spain, Charles IV, for his Calcografia in exchange for an allowance which would enable his son to travel. Although some accounts tie Goya's trouble with the Inquisition to "The Caprices", Thomas Harris suggests that if the Inquisition had threatened Goya on account of the subject of these engravings, it is very unlikely that the King would have agreed to buy them.
"The Caprices" are divided into two sections. The exhibition print is from the first, which is a satire on human folly and wickedness, with particular reference to the customs and manners of the time. The basis of many of the prints in this section comes from Goya's experiences among the Duchess of Alba and her companions.
"Nobody knows Himself" can be grouped further with four other plates which together depict the ways in which men and women surround themselves with lies, prejudices, and hypocrisy, until they are impenetrable to one another. Specifically the exhibition print portrays the world just as Goya describes it above. The masquers in the background are enclosed in the darkness of their own deception. They are totally isolated from each other. The main characters are two people, one in men's clothing wearing a human mask courts the other, gowned in feminine attire and wearing a domino. As the figure in men's clothes leans forward her female shape becomes obvious. Goya has created a social comedy in which the participants know neither themselves nor their companions.
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Plate 6 from "The Caprices" (Los Caprichos)
Kalamazoo College
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