Francisco de Goya

The worst is to beg (Lo peor es pedir)

The worst is to beg (Lo peor es pedir)
Datos Generales
Ca. 1812 - 1815
154 x 207 mm
Técnica y soporte
Aguafuerte, lavis y bruñidor
Reconocimiento de la autoría de Goya
Undisputed work
Ficha: realización/revisión
16 Dec 2010 / 14 Apr 2021

Goya (lower left-hand corner, with the "y" written backwards); 37 (lower left-hand corner).


See Sad presentiments of what must come to pass.

The second artist's proof shows that the lavis extends up to the edges of the plate with light burnishing on the ground area and the sky towards the left-hand edge.

The title was handwritten on the print by Goya in the first and only series that is known to have been printed at the time the works were created, which the artist gave to his friend Agustín Ceán Bermúdez. Therefore, the title was etched into the plate at a later date and left unchanged as of the first edition of the Disasters of War printed by the San Fernando Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Madrid in 1863, after the printing of the series in the possession of Ceán Bermúdez.

There is a surviving preparatory drawing for this print which is housed in the Prado Museum in Madrid.

Análisis artístico

In this print Goya continues to explore the subject of famine begun in print no. 48, A cruel shame! (Cruel lástima). In the middle of a waste ground a group of starving people beg the help of a young woman who passes by them, head lowered. In the background a French officer watches the scene.

Goya has left the sky completely clear, omitting the aquatint he uses for skies in other works. The faces of the starving figures in the centre of the composition are picked out in aquatint. Their faces are gaunt, their eye sockets sunken, while their legs and arms are mere bones and their clothing is ragged.

The well-dressed young woman has been the subject of much discussion. Eleanor Sayre believes that it might be the Spanish wife of the French officer that also appears in the print: a depiction of a mixed marriage. Lecaldano suggests that this figure might be a young middle-class woman who cannot bear the sight of the starving people and for this reason turns her gaze away from them, although he does not link her to the soldier in the background. Jesusa Vega and Juan Carrete raise the possibility that the figure is a prostitute, a profession that offered many women a solution to the difficult circumstances caused by the war. This would explain why the young woman does not look at the dying figures as she passes by, her gaze fixed on the French officer who would represent the best potential client of the time.


The plate is stored in the National Chalcography (cat. 306).

  • Goya y el espíritu de la Ilustración
    Museo Nacional del Prado
    from October 6th to December 18th 1988. Exhibited also at Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, January 18th to March 26th 1989; The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Nueva York, May 9th to July 16th 1989, Madrid curator Manuela B. Mena Marqués, scientific directors Alfonso E. Pérez Sánchez and Eleanor A. Sayre
  • Francisco de Goya
    Museo d'Arte Moderna
    exhibition celebrated from September 22nd to November 17th.
  • Francisco de Goya: Maleri, Tegning, Grafikk
    from 10th to April 14th 1996
  • Francisco Goya. Sein leben im spiegel der graphik. Fuendetodos 1746-1828 Bordeaux. 1746-1996
    Galerie Kornfeld
    from November 21st 1996 to January 1997
  • Goya. Opera grafica
    Pinacoteca del Castello di San Giorgio
    exhibition celebrated from December 16th 2006 to April 1st 2007
  • Goya en tiempos de guerra
    Museo Nacional del Prado
    consultant editor Manuela B. Mena Marqués, from April 14th to July 13th 2008
  • Goya luces y sombras
    consultant editors José Manuel Matilla and Manuela B. Marqués. From March 16th to June 24th 2012
  • 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. 157
  • Tomás Harris
    Goya engravings and lithographs, vol. I y II.
    Bruno Cassirer
    cat. 175
  • GASSIER, Pierre y WILSON, Juliet
    Vie et ouvre de Francisco de Goya
    ParísOffice du livre
    cat. 1084
  • MENA, Manuela B. (comisaria) and PÉREZ SÁNCHEZ, Alfonso E. y SAYRE, Eleanor A. (directores)
    Goya y el espíritu de la Ilustración
    MadridMuseo del Prado
    p. 309-310, cat. 91
  • SANTIAGO, Elena M. (coordinadora)
    Catálogo de las estampas de Goya en la Biblioteca Nacional
    MadridMinisterio de Educación y Cultura, Biblioteca Nacional
    cat. 265
  • José Manuel Matilla
    El Libro de los Desastres de la Guerra
    MadridMuseo del Prado
    pp. 105-107
Enlaces externos
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