The Duellist – 10

10 – El amor y la muerte (Love and death)

The tenth print of Los Caprichos shows a well-dressed man dying in the arms of a woman. The clue to the picture’s true meaning lies both in its title and in the sword depicted in the 10 - El_amor_y_la_muerteleft-hand foreground – the man has fought and lost a duel, a practice still common in late 18th century Spain.

Goya writes, ‘We see here a lover of Calderón (a Spanish playwrite whose work often touched on themes of honour) who, due to his inability to laugh at his competitor, dies in the arms of his loved one and loses her due to his temerity. It is rarely wise to unsheathe the sword, and illicit love affairs rarely cause more than quarrels and duels.’

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