6 – Nadie se conoce (No one is as they seem)
This print depicts the Spanish nobility at a masked ball, which were the height of fashion at the time. These masques were something Goya clearly despised and saw as a simile through which to describe 18th century Spanish society. He wrote, ‘The world is like a masked ball: the face, the clothing, the voice, all is faked; everyone wants to appear that which they are not, everyone fools each other and no one is as they seem.’
In his notes, Goya also described the specifics of the picture and some of the imagery. The central figure is that of an ‘army general, dressed as a woman attempting to seduce a young woman. . .The husband stands behind and . . . is depicted wearing a huge horn-shaped hat.’
The reference to the horn here is still part of the Spanish vocabulary of insult: to be made to wear los cuernos (the horns) means the husband is being cuckolded (i.e. his wife is sleeping with another man).