The Sleep of Reason Produces Monsters

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The Sleep of Reason Produces Monsters (Spanish:El sueño de la razón produce monstruos') is an etching made by the Spanish painter and printmaker Francisco Goya. Etched between 1797–1799,[1] it is plate 43 of the 80 etchings making up the Los Caprichos series and was initially intended to be the frontispiece.[2]

It consists of a self-portrait of the artist with his head on a table, as owls and bats surround him, assailing him as he buries his head into his arms.[3] Seemingly poised to attack the artist are owls (symbols of folly) and bats (symbols of ignorance).

The viewer might read this as a portrayal of what emerges when reason is suppressed and, therefore, as an espousal of Enlightenment ideals. However, it also can be interpreted as Goya's commitment to the creative process and the Romantic spirit—the unleashing of imagination, emotions, and even nightmares. Arguably the most famous plate of the series, it has gone on to become an iconic image, with its title often being quoted from Goya.

Preparatory drawingsEdit


  1. ^ "Goya - The Sleep of Reason". Retrieved 2012-01-04.
  2. ^ Handbook:The Sleep of Reason Produces Monsters[dead link]
  3. ^ The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Francisco de Goya y Lucientes: The Sleep of Reason Produces Monsters: Plate 43 of The Caprices (Los Caprichos)". Retrieved 2008-12-14.

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