The Sleep of Reason Produces Monsters

The Sleep of Reason Produces Monsters
Artist Francisco de Goya
Year c. 1799
Medium Etching, aquatint, drypoint and burin
Dimensions 8 7/16 in × 5 7/8 in
21.5 cm × 15 cm
Famous Paintings by Goya
Saturn Devouring His Son
The Third of May 1808
La Maja Desnuda
The Sleep of Reason Produces Monsters
Witches’ Sabbath
La Maja Vestida
La Cometa
The Forge
The Dog
Complete Works

The Sleep of Reason Produces Monsters is one of the Los Caprichos series of etchings created by Spanish artist Francisco Goya. The etching was completed circa 1799. The etching was gifted to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York by M. Knoedler & Co. in 1918. It is not presently on public view.


The etching depicts the artist sitting at a table on which some of his artists’ tools are visible. The artist has fallen asleep. His head rests on his folded arms on the table.

Behind the artist are numerous grotesque creatures, including many winged beasts, representing the monsters from the title.

A cloth hangs from the table on which is inscribed, in Spanish, the phrase that gives the painting its name.

The etching is an allegory for Goya’s nightmarish view of Spanish society. The artist was deeply unhappy with the corruption he witnessed, and this work, in common with many others he produced, is intended to be a satirical criticism.

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