Hunting for teeth - A caza de dientes

Preparatory drawing
Preparatory drawing Capricho 12b Goya.jpg
Hunting for teeth.jpg

The etching A hunting for teeth is an engraving from the Los Caprichos series by the Spanish painter Francisco de Goya . It is numbered with the number 12 in the series of 80 stamps. It was published in 1799.

Interpretations of the print

There are several contemporary manuscripts that explain the plates of the Caprichos. The one in the Prado Museum is taken as Goya's autograph, but it seems rather to mislead and look for a moralizing meaning that conceals riskier meanings for the author. Two others, the one that belonged to Ayala and the one in the National Library, highlight the most rugged part of the plates. [ 1 ]

  • Explanation of this print from the Prado Museum manuscript: Hanged man's teeth are very effective for spells; Without this ingredient there is no use. It is a pity that the common people create such nonsense. [ 2 ]
  • Ayala Manuscript: Hangman's teeth are very effective for spells. What is a woman in love capable of! [ 2 ]
  • Manuscript of the National Library: For having his way, especially if he is in love, he is capable of pulling out the teeth of a hanged man. [ 2 ]

This engraving represents a superstition that still prevailed among the people: a young woman is pulling out a tooth from the corpse of a hanged man, which she plans to use to perform spells. In that direction go the comments on the Prado and Ayala manuscripts. It is inspired by Act VII of the Tragicomedy by Calixto and Melibea , in which Celestina says of the mother of the character Pármeno : "Seven teeth he removed from a hanged man with a pair of eyebrow-peeling tweezers, while I took off his shoes." This scene was cited and noted by Moratín in the annotated edition of the Auto de fe on witchcraft that the Inquisition celebrated in Logroño in 1610 and of which Goya seems to have used for drawings and engravings. [ 3 ]

Engraving technique

Impressive scene where the hanged man seems suspended in the air by the rope that hangs him. In women the disgust that pulling the tooth produces is reflected. The contrast is enormous between the dead man and the feminine opulence of the woman. The figures are wrapped in a gloomy night that contrasts with the lighting of the protagonists. The wall in the foreground, which has a prominent role in the drawing and dwarfs the importance of the figures, has been darkened, reducing its role. [ 4 ]

He used the techniques of etching, aquatint and burin. The plate is kept in regular condition. [ 5 ]

See also


Bibliographic references

  • Camon Aznar, José. Francisco de Goya, volume III . Savings Bank of Zaragoza, Aragon and Rioja. Camon Aznar Institute. ISBN 84-500-5016-2 .
  • Carrete Parrondo, Juan (1994). «Francisco de Goya. Whims". Goya. Whims. Drawings and Etchings . Central Hispano. RAde Fine Arts of San Fernando. National intaglio. ISBN 84-604-9323-7 .
  • Casariego, Rafael (1988). Francisco de Goya, Los Caprichos . Madrid: Editions of art and bibliophilia. ISBN 84-86630-11-8 .
  • Chalcography Studies Office. Barrena Clemente, Blas Javier, Matilla José Manuel, Villar José Luís and Villena Elvira (1994). "Drawings and Prints". Goya. Whims. Drawings and Etchings . Central Hispano. RAde Fine Arts of San Fernando. National intaglio. ISBN 84-604-9323-7 .
  • Helman, Edith (1983). Goya's Transmundo . Madrid: Editorial Alliance. ISBN 84-206-7032-4 .


  1. Helman, op. cit., p. 54
  2. a b c Helman, op. cit., p. 215
  3. Helman, op. cit., pp. 78-79
  4. Camon, op. cit., p. 71
  5. Casariego, op. cit., print 12

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