Goya prints soar past estimate

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A set of 80 etchings by Francisco José de Goya smashed its estimate of $400,000-600,000 at Christies New York last week by fetching $1.4 million.

The set of etchings, titled Los Caprichos, was the highlight of 35 important examples of Goya’s graphic work on offer in a January 28 sale titled Francisco José De Goya y Lucientes:  Graphic Masterpieces from a Private Collection.

Goya’s paintings and drawings are difficult to source outside of Spain due to strict export restrictions but his prints are easier to come by. Los Caprichos is a complete set of eighty etchings first published in 1799.  These prints exposed the corruption that earned Goya’s homeland the appellation Black Spain.  It offers a kaleidoscope view of evil, encompassing prostitutes, imagined witches and goblins.  In order to protect himself from the wrath of the Inquisition, Goya masked his satire by means of images that could inspire multiple interpretations.

Richard Lloyd, international head of department, prints, for Christie’s, said he was delighted to have begun Old Masters Week with the outstanding results of the Goya sale, in which 94% of the lots sold.

“The top lot of the sale Los Caprichos, which realized $1.4 million, more than doubled its high estimate.  With active bidding in the room, on the phone, and via Christie’s LIVE, the sale surpassed its expected $2.4 million high estimate.”

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