25 – Si quebró el cántaro (He broke the pitcher)
This is (seemingly) one of the most straightforward prints in the Los Caprichos series. An angry mother is spanking her son’s naked bottom with her shoe. The reason for the punishment is depicted on the left of the foreground: the boy has dropped and broken a clay water pitcher.
Goya writes, ‘There are some mothers that spank their children’s arses red raw with their shoes for the slightest of reasons . . . the child is naughty and the mother is choleric. Which is worse?‘
Although at first glance this seems a denunciation of bad parenting, I suspect that the print has a symbolic meaning, too, given Goya’s opinions on the ills of the Spanish justice system and the Inquisition, and of the excessive punishments they handed out.