Francisco de Goya

Bitter presence (Amarga presencia)

Bitter presence (Amarga presencia)
Datos Generales
Ca. 1810 - 1812
143 x 169 mm
Técnica y soporte
Etching, aquatint, burin, drypoint and burnisher
Reconocimiento de la autoría de Goya
Undisputed work
Ficha: realización/revisión
29 Nov 2010 / 14 Apr 2021

Goya (lower left-hand corner), 20 (lower left-hand corner of plate)


See Sad presentiments of what must come to pass.

There exist two state proofs for this etching. The first features some drypoint on the sword belonging to the man reclining on the left-hand side and some retouching with burin below the woman's right breast. In the second proof the lavis work has been added.

The title was handwritten by Goya on the first and only print run that we know to have been made at the time, and which the painter gave to his friend Agustín Ceán Bermúdez. The title was engraved on to the copperplate at a later date, and no other modifications were made to the image for the first edition of the Disasters of War, which was printed by the Royal Academy of Fine Arts of San Fernando, Madrid, in 1863.

There is a preparatory drawing in the Prado Museum.

Análisis artístico

In an interior space featuring two archways through which the light enters, a handcuffed man is leaning against a wall, his back to the viewer. He is about to bear witness to a brutal rape. Two soldiers have hold of a woman, perhaps the wife of the handcuffed man, by the arms. She is looking up at one of her attackers, pleading for mercy. At the same time, another soldier is raping a second woman in the background.

The place is which these actions are taking place bears some similarities to the space depicted by Goya in etching no. 11, Or these. This would be somewhere out of the way, where nobody is likely to come to the aid of the prisoners, somewhere that, far from sheltering them, becomes their prison.

Bitter presence is a heavy, particularly dark image. The light that is flooding in through the two archways falls mainly on the clothes of the woman in the foreground and on the shirt worn by the man who is being forced to witness the unfolding events. The soldiers either have their backs to us or their faces are either downturned or simply dimly lit, so that we cannot identify them, just as occurs in many other etchings in the series.

This etching can be related to those other prints in the Disasters of War series in which women play an important role, often as victims of different types of violence: no. 3, The women give courage, nº 7, What courage!, nº 9, They do not want to, nº 11, Or these, nº 19, There is no more time and no. 31, That's tough.


The etching plate is conserved in the National Chalcography Museum (cat. 264).

The copperplate for this etching used half of the plate from Landscape with Cliff, Buildings and Trees.

  • De grafiek van Goya
    Rijksmuseum Rijksprentenkabinet
    from November 13th 1970 to January 17th 1971
  • Francisco de Goya
    Museo d'Arte Moderna
    exhibition celebrated from September 22nd to November 17th.
  • Francisco Goya. Sein leben im spiegel der graphik. Fuendetodos 1746-1828 Bordeaux. 1746-1996
    Galerie Kornfeld
    from November 21st 1996 to January 1997
  • Francisco Goya. Capricci, follie e disastri della guerra
    San Donato Milanese
    Opere grafiche della Fondazione Antonio Mazzotta
  • Goya. Opera grafica
    Pinacoteca del Castello di San Giorgio
    exhibition celebrated from December 16th 2006 to April 1st 2007
  • Goya et la modernité
    Pinacothèque de Paris
    from October 11st 2013 to March 16th 2014
  • Aureliano de Beruete Y Moret
    Goya, grabador
    MadridBlass S.A.
    cat. 115
  • Tomás Harris
    Goya engravings and lithographs, vol. I y II.
    Bruno Cassirer
    cat. 133
  • GASSIER, Pierre y WILSON, Juliet
    Vie et ouvre de Francisco de Goya
    ParísOffice du livre
    cat. 1011
  • SANTIAGO, Elena M. (coordinadora)
    Catálogo de las estampas de Goya en la Biblioteca Nacional
    MadridMinisterio de Educación y Cultura, Biblioteca Nacional
    cat. 203
Enlaces externos
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