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And they were like wild beasts (Y son fieras)

In 1808 Goya witnessed the invasion of Spain by the French revolutionary army during the Peninsular War. In what has been described as the first guerrilla war, Spanish peasants took up simple weapons—like farm implements and rocks—to fend off Napoleon’s troops, who were equipped with modern rifles. The extreme cruelty of this new kind of warfare was recorded with brutal honesty in Goya’s series of eighty prints (Eskenazi Museum of Art 76.14.282). While recording real war atrocities, Goya often employed allusions to Christian iconography (such as the Passion of Christ and the martyrdom of saints) to evoke sympathy for Spain and to create a universal statement against man’s inhumanity to man.

Francisco de Goya
Spanish, 1746–1828
And they were like wild beasts (Y son fieras), Plate 5 from The Disasters of War (Los desastres de la Guerra)
1810–23 (published1863)
Etching, burnished aquatint, and drypoint on paper
Image: 5 ¼ x 7 5/16 in. (13.2 x 18.6 cm); plate: 6 x 7 15/16 in. (15.2 x 20.2 cm); sheet: 9 13/16 x 12 ¾ in. (24.9 x 32.4 cm)
Sidney and Lois Eskenazi Museum of Art, 76.14.6