Artwork of the Week: March 7, 2022

 In MOA Artwork of the Week

Francisco Goya (1746-1828), De Que Sirve Una Taza (What is the Use of a Cup), 1863, etching burnished aquatint and lavis, 9 15/16 x 13 3/8 inches. Brigham Young University Museum of Art, gift of Paul and Suzanne Engemann, 2000

March is Women’s History Month! The 2022 theme is “Women Providing Healing, Providing Hope.” International Women’s Day is March 8th , so our first artwork celebrating women comes from 19th – century Spain.

This print is part of a series of images Goya created in response to the violence and political turmoil of the Spanish Peninsular War (1808-1814). Posthumously titled Disasters of War, and published 35 years after his death, the series criticized the futility and brutality of war and its aftermath through depictions of individual suffering and allegorical representation. In this print, a woman kneels next to a pile of dead bodies while offering the contents of a cup to another woman on the brink of death. The hazy background and overall darkness of the scene lend an air of despair and hopelessness. However, despite the inevitability of heartache and loss, the woman with the cup does what she can to alleviate suffering—as so many women across time,
economic boundaries, cultures, and geographies have done. Goya’s intent may have leaned forward a critique of man’s inhumanity to man, but his image also reinforces woman’s immense capacity to extend hope and healing in times of great crisis.

Have you ever observed (in person or through the media, etc.) a woman locally or internationally who has served others when her own life, safety, or well-being was likewise at risk? How can you honor or express gratitude for such selfless acts of love and compassion?

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