Francisco de Goya

And it can’t be helped (Y no hai remedio)

And it can’t be helped (Y no hai remedio)
Datos Generales
Ca. 1810 - 1815
139x164 mm
Técnica y soporte
Aguafuerte, buril, punta seca y bruñido
Reconocimiento de la autoría de Goya
Undisputed work
Ficha: realización/revisión
30 Nov 2010 / 02 Jun 2023

22 (lower left-hand corner of plate).


See Sad presentiments of what must come to pass.

In the first state proof of this etching drypoint is used in the figures in the foreground, in the soldiers taking aim in the background, and in the fallen figure just visible on the left-hand side. This same figure is emphasized with the burin and there is some retouching in the area in the upper-right hand corner, where the etching had bitten too deeply.

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 the centre of the composition, in the foreground, we see a blindfolded man tied to a post. This calm, highly dignified figure is waiting, with resignation, his face turned down toward the ground, to be executed by firing squad. Beside him lies the body of another man who has just been killed, the blindfold removed from his face. We can assume that this same blindfold has been reused to cover the face of the man who is now about to be executed in the foreground. Behind him we can see two more posts and two more men, shown in the exact moment in which they are being shot by a row of soldiers, their weapons held aloft.

In this one image, Goya brings together three different phases in the death of these prisoners: the preparation, the moment of the execution, and the resulting corpse. On the right-hand side of the image he has shown the barrels of the soldier's rifles but not the soldiers themselves. Both here and in the background, the executioners' faces remain hidden from view, making it impossible for us to identify them.

The artist has used short, tightly-packed horizontal lines to recreate the sky, the earth, and the posts to which the prisoners are tied. The light areas of the scene are mainly in the spotless clothes of the accused men, alluding to their innocence. In these areas Goya has left the surface almost entirely unworked, adding only some delicate lines to construct the sleeves, the lower part of the trousers, and the shoes. Lit up in this same way is the squad of soldiers in the background, making sure that we do not overlook what is happening in that part of the scene.

This etching is closely related to the previous one, no. 14, The way is hard! , in that these two prints constitute two variations on the same theme, capital punishment. However, in And it can't be helped instead of Spaniards putting Frenchmen to death we see the reverse, with French forces executing Spaniards. In this way Goya shows how the horror is equally present on both sides. The artist finds himself utterly unable to justify the events he depicts, both here and in the previous work. He creates an analogy between these two images, in a similar way to what he did with etchings no. 2, With or without reason and no. 3, The same.

The subject of capital punishment is reiterated in some of the later prints in this series, such as no. 26, One cannot look at this, no. 31, That's tough!, no. 32, Why?, no. 34,On account of a knife, no. 35, One can't tell why, no. 36, Not in this case either and no. 38, Barbarians!.


The etching plate is conserved in the National Chalcography Museum (cat. 266)

This etching was made reusing half of the plate which Goya used for his Landscape with Cliff, Buildings and Trees

  • De grafiek van Goya
    Rijksmuseum Rijksprentenkabinet
    from November 13th 1970 to January 17th 1971
  • Goya. Das Zeitalter der Revolucionen. Kunst um 1800 (1980 – 1981)
    Hamburger Kunsthalle
  • 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: Maleri, Tegning, Grafikk
    from 10th to April 14th 1996
  • 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
  • Ydioma universal: Goya en la Biblioteca Nacional
    Biblioteca Nacional
    from September 19th to December 15th 1996
  • 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 en tiempos de guerra
    Museo Nacional del Prado
    consultant editor Manuela B. Mena Marqués, from April 14th to July 13th 2008
  • Goya et la modernité
    Pinacothèque de Paris
    from October 11st 2013 to March 16th 2014
  • Goya: Order and disorder
    Museum of Fine Arts
  • Zaragoza
  • BERUETE Y MONET, Aureliano de
    Goya, grabador
    MadridBlass S.A.
    cat. 117
  • HARRIS, Tomás
    Goya engravings and lithographs, vol. I y II.
    OxfordBruno Cassirer
    cat. 135
  • GASSIER, Pierre y WILSON, Juliet
    Vie et ouvre de Francisco de Goya
    ParísOffice du livre
    cat. 1015
    Vicisitudes de algunas láminas grabadas por Francisco de Goya: Los desastres de la guerra, Los disparates, La tauromaquia
    p. 287
  • PÉREZ SÁNCHEZ, Alfonso E. y SAYRE, Eleanor A. (directores) and MENA, Manuela B. (comisaria)
    Goya y el espíritu de la Ilustración
    MadridMuseo del Prado
    pp. 299-300, cat. 86
  • SANTIAGO, Elena M. (coordinadora)
    Catálogo de las estampas de Goya en la Biblioteca Nacional
    MadridMinisterio de Educación y Cultura, Biblioteca Nacional
    cat. 206
  • BLAS BENITO, Javier and MATILLA, José Manuel
    El Libro de los Desastres de la Guerra
    MadridMuseo del Prado
    II, pp. 35-37
  • OROPESA, Marisa and RINCÓN GARCÍA, Wilfredo
    ParísPinacoteca de París
    p. 127
  • ILCHMAN, Frederick y STEPANEK, Stephanie L. (comisarios)
    Goya: Order & Disorder
    BostonMuseum of Fine Arts Boston Publications
    p. 291
    Goya. In the Norton Simon Museum
    PasadenaNorton Simon Museum
    pp. 114-151
  • GALLEGO GARCÍA, Raquel (comisaria)
    Goya. Traveler and artist of the Grand Tour (exp. cat.)
    ZaragozaGobierno de Aragón
    pp. 246-247
Enlaces externos
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