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The sleep of reason produces monsters

The sleep of reason produces monsters

Technical details

  • Author Francisco de Goya y Lucientes
  • Title The sleep of reason produces monsters
  • Timeline 1799
  • Technique Aquafortis and aquatint


Goya's original idea was to use this print as the cover for the collection. This was later changed for his Self-Portrait, in which he wears a top hat. Goya represents himself asleep at his desk, on which there are pencils and drawing paper. A flock of night birds, bats and owls come to rest on him, as in a dream, while a hieratic feline – a mixture of lynx and cat – scrutinises the space with a wide gaze. Goya wanted to express the fact that, when reason is lulled, phantasmagorical visions appear: hallucinations with monstrous beings coming out of the night.

Here Goya confirms his enlightened thinking that places trust in reason, in the light that banishes ignorance, superstitions, errors, in order to achieve human happiness.

Location in the museum

You may find this artwork on  Floor 2 Goya’s Etchings