The Courtesan’s Mother – 16

16 – Dios la perdone: y era su madre (May God forgive her: for it was her mother)

While many of the prints in the Los Caprichos series display Goya’s grotesque and salacious imagination, others are merely intended to mirror and depict aspects of late 18th century Spanish society. This is certainly the case with print 16, in which Goya shows a well-16 - Dios_la_perdone_Y_era_su_madredressed woman with high heels and a fan walking past another female figure holding a walking stick and a rosary. The print’s title gives a clue as to what is happening in the picture, but Goya’s notes expound further.

‘The young woman left her homeland very young and . . . came to Madrid, where she became a successful whore. One day, while walking in the park, she hears a dirty and decrepit old woman begging for alms. She sends her away, but the old woman insists and, upon turning, she realises the beggar is her own mother. There are such sinful daughters who, once fortune has favoured them, are incapable of recognising their own mothers.’

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