Francisco de Goya

They say yes and hold out their hand to the first to arrive

They say yes and hold out their hand to the first to arrive
Datos Generales
Ca. 1797 - 1798
215 x 150 mm
Técnica y soporte
Etching and burnished aquatint
Reconocimiento de la autoría de Goya
Undisputed work
Ailsa Mellon Bruce Collection
Ficha: realización/revisión
09 Nov 2010 / 26 May 2023

Yes pronounce and hand out to the first comer (at the bottom) 

P.2 (in the upper right corner)

Análisis artístico

A young woman, whose face is covered with a black mask on the front and a dog or rat mask on the back, marries a man much older than herself. She offers him one hand, while hiding the other behind her body. Behind her, we see two old women with deformed faces and, in the background of the scene, various figures with exaggerated gestures attending the scene. High in the centre of the picture, although slightly offset towards the background, the painter has depicted a man wearing a hat with a caricatured, almost animal-like face. 

The lines of the engraving have a deep bite and in the fine-grained aquatint varnish reserves have been made to obtain a greater contrast between the white of the simian profile of the woman behind the young woman and the girl's chest with the malicious expression of the bridegroom. The use of the burnisher favours the insinuation of the female forms beneath the dress.

Contemporary manuscripts explain this scene; the one in the Prado Museum states that this image represents "the ease with which many women lend themselves to marriage in the hope of living more freely in it", while the one in the National Library notes that "marriages are regularly performed blindly: the brides, trained by their parents, mask themselves and dress up to deceive the first man who arrives. This is a princess with a mask, who is then to be a bitch with her vassals, as indicated by the back of her face imitating a hairstyle: the foolish people applaud these liaisons; and behind comes praying a liar in priestly attire for the happiness of the nation". Finally, Ayala's manuscript states that with this image Goya "reprimands blind marriages, like those of princesses and chambermaids". 

For this Caprice, Goya must have been inspired by some verses written by his learned friend Gaspar Melchor de Jovellanos (Gijón, 1744-Puerto de Vega, Navia, 1811), the so-called satires A Arnesto, which were first published in El censor (1786). Alcinda, a young woman belonging to high society, marries the first suitor who presents himself to her, possibly with the intention of leaving home. The future husband is encouraged by the economic prosperity that this marriage will bring him. Goya has captured the part of Jovellanos's poem in which he says: "El sí pronuncian y la mano alargan/ Al primero que llega! What a lot of evils/ This damned blindness does not abort! In addition, in the background of the engraving are the characters attending the scene "Al pie del altar, y en el tumulto/ Brindis y vivas de la tornaboda" (At the foot of the altar, and in the tumult/ Toasts and cheers of the wedding). This marriage is celebrated with the imminent threat of infidelity, as Jovellanos points out: "El velo conyugal, y que corriendo/ Con la imprudente frente levantada. Va el adulterio de una casa a otra" (Adultery goes from one house to another). Betrayal is symbolised in the print by the double mask which, on the back, has the face of a dog or rat and alludes to the true character of the young woman who will find complicity in the deception in the woman with the simian face behind her. In Goyaesque iconography, the mask is often an element which, far from concealing, reveals the character's true identity and gives us an idea of her real personality.

The theme of unequal marriages or marriages of convenience is dealt with by Goya in other engravings in The Caprices, such as No. 14, What a Sacrifice, No. 57, Filiation, and No. 75, There's No One to Untie Us.


The aquatint of the plate, which is preserved in the National Chalcography (no. 173), is somewhat weakened.

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Enlaces externos
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