Made possible with funds from The Ahmanson Foundation and Pepita Milmore Memorial Fund, the Gallery has acquired Fuerte cosa es! (That's Tough!) (1810/1820), a rare surviving proof from Francisco de Goya's (1746–1828) Disasters of War that was created during his lifetime. One of the most important and influential print series ever made, Goya's Disasters of War was created in response to the French occupation of Spain (1808–1814) during the Peninsular War.
Comprising 82 etchings and aquatints that expose war's horrors and depict the upheaval and widespread devastation in the wake of the conflict, Disasters of War encompasses three loosely defined parts: scenes of war and French atrocities, images of the Madrid famine of 1811–1812, and political satire and allegories. Although these prints were informed by newspaper accounts, testimonies of fellow Spaniards, and firsthand experience, Goya used generalized settings to render scenarios that would have resonated with people across Spain.
Fuerte cosa es! (That's Tough!)—plate 31—depicts a French soldier who is sheathing his sword, while in the background, two soldiers pull down the hanged bodies of Spanish civilians that will be quartered and dismembered. These lifeless corpses, along with those piled on the ground, are in direct contrast to the soldiers' dynamic poses. Goya left areas of the white of the paper to denote the stark daylight that plays over the scene, reminding the viewer that the image is the reality of war.
Although Goya pulled (or supervised the pulling of) nearly 500 proofs for this series, it was not published during his lifetime. After his death, all but two of its copper plates were sold by his son to the Royal Academy of Fine Arts of San Fernando in Madrid, which published The Disasters of War: Collection of Eighty Plates Drawn and Etched by Francisco Goya in 1863. A side-by-side comparison of early, lifetime proofs with impressions in this posthumous publication reveals numerous differences, such as changes made to the printing plates or rectangular outlines and captions added to the original compositions. The plates were printed with a thin layer of ink on their surfaces in conformity with a romantic, mid-19th-century French aesthetic, which not only catered to period taste but also helped to mask and visually compensate for wear. With no passages of white paper being left in reserve, the prints in the 1863 edition lack both the contrasts and subtleties of tone that are visible in the earlier proofs.
The Gallery's Rosenwald Collection includes a bound copy of the 1863 edition, Los desastres de la guerra, in addition to several proofs—most of which relate to 19th- and 20th-century editions of the series. More states exist for Disasters of War than for any of Goya's other print series, underscoring its intensity, complexity, and significance for the artist.