Prado manuscript: ‘Here is a question of deceiving the fiancé by letting him see through the executor who were the parents, grandparents and great-grandparents and great-great-grandparents of the young lady. And who is she herself? He will find out about that later.’
‘In (this) composition, a standing man reads to a seated woman. Both wear masks. Another man scrutinizes them with a monocle while the monkey on his shoulders looks directly out at the viewer, and various other figures appear in the background. The layout of the print does not entirely correspond to that of the preparatory drawing. The reading man has been replaced by a woman, and there are two figures standing behind them, rather than one. Moreover, these two wear a different hat than the one that appears in the original composition. The print’s subject (with coincides with that of the preparatory drawing) is clarified by Valentín Carderera’s handwritten notes at both the Museo del Prado and the Biblioteca Nacional. The meaning (is) even clearer in (the latter): ‘Vain people pretend to descend from great men, when their distant relatives are barely known, and it takes a pair of spectacles even to see what is close by.’Goya’s social criticism is manifest here.’
Matilla, J.M. et al, El libro de los Caprichos. Francisco de Goya: dos siglos de interpretaciones, 1799-1999. Catálogo de los dibujos, pruebas de estado, láminas de cobre y estampas de la primera edición, Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid, 1999, pp. 21, 298.