The strikingly original characterizations and sharply drawn scenes that came to be known posthumously as Los Desastres de la Guerra (The Disasters of War) are among Francisco Goya's most powerful works and one of the masterpieces of Western civilization. Goya's model for his visual indictment of war and its horrors was the Spanish insurrection of 1808 and the resulting Peninsular War with Napoleonic France. The bloody conflict and the horrible famine of Madrid were witnessed by Goya himself, or were revealed to him from the accounts of friends and contemporaries. From 1810 to 1820, he worked to immortalize them in a series of etchings.
The artist himself never saw the results. The etchings were not published until 1863, some 35 years after his death. By then, the passions of the Napoleonic era had subsided and the satirical implications in Goya's work were less likely to offend. The Dover edition reproduces in its original size the second state of this first edition, which contained 80 prints. Three additional prints not in the 1863 edition are also included here, making this the most complete collection possible of the etchings Goya intended for this series. The bitter, biting captions are reprinted, along with the new English translations, as are the original title page and preface.