- Ca. 1797 - 1798
- 209 x 157 mm
- Técnica y soporte
- Etching and burnished aquatint
- Reconocimiento de la autoría de Goya
- Undisputed work
- Ficha: realización/revisión
- 10 Nov 2010 / 19 Jun 2023
The one on the rollona (in the lower part)
P.4. (in the upper right-hand corner)
There is a state proof that has manuscript in pen and ink, before the lettering, What a brutish man I am. In another proof Goya wrote the final title in pencil. Some stamps were thrown away in which the word "rollona" appeared with a y instead of an ll. Later the change was made and in the rest of the engravings the word appears written with an "ll".
A preparatory drawing is preserved in the Prado Museum.
In the centre of the image, Goya depicts an adult man wearing children's clothes, a chichonera and a girdle-belt. From the belt hang a badger, a shearing and the book of the Gospels, all of which are frequently used as amulets to ward off the evil eye. The figure's attitude reinforces his childish character, as he sucks one of his fingers. In the background, in the semi-darkness, we can make out the figure of a servant who pulls the child, whose whims and caprices he must be aware of.
The light focuses on the figure of the adult dressed as a child, whom he rescues from the darkness. It reveals his face and the position of his hands next to his mouth, as well as the belt from which the amulets hang. It also shows two objects in the background, a cauldron of food and a cushioned toilet, which allude to the character's main concerns.
Ayala's manuscript states of this image that "the children of the great gorge themselves on food, suck their thumbs and are always little boys, even with beards, and so they need footmen to carry them with walkers". The Prado Museum's own author points out that "negligence, tolerance and the same make children whimsical, obstinate, arrogant, greedy, pernicious and insufferable; they grow up to be grown-ups and are still children. Such is the Rollona". The one in the National Library, which best explains Goya's work, notes that "The children of the Greats are always brought up like little children, sucking their thumbs, gorging themselves on food, dragged along by their lackeys, full of superstitious sayings, even when they are already bearded".
The starting point for this image could be a folkloric motif that appears in the short plays of the 17th and early 18th centuries. Likewise, in the Treasury of the Castilian or Spanish Language of 1610, by Sebastián de Covarrubias (Toledo, 1539-1613), the proverb "el niño de la Rollona que tenía siete años y mamaba" (the Rollona's child who was seven years old and sucked) is referred to. Continuing with this proverb, the author says that "there are some boys who are so good that even though they are grown up, they do not know how to leave their mothers' laps; they turn out to be great fools or great vicious fools". The Rollona boy is also mentioned in the manuscript of proverbs compiled in 1627 by Gonzalo Correas (Jaraíz de la Vera [Cáceres], 1571-Salamanca, 1631), a professor of Greek and Hebrew at the University of Salamanca. This work remained unpublished until the end of the 18th century when it was taken up by the Royal Academy, which included some of the expressions noted by Correa in its Dictionary of the Castilian Language. In it, the child of the Rollona was defined as "a nickname for a "tocho" or "ronzero".
This print should be interpreted as a clear satire of the education received by the children of noble families or some members of the royal family. They were often treated in a manner that did not correspond to their true age in an attempt to prolong their childhood and were constantly and constantly assisted by servants and lackeys who suffered their whims. They were protected with amulets and their heads were filled with superstitions.
The plate, which is kept at the National Chalcography (no. 175), is in rather poor condition, with the aquatint and etching rather weakened.
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