The Straw Manikin, 1791 by Francisco Goya

This belongs to Goya's last suite of tapestry cartoons, the only series made for Charles IV after Goya's appointment as Court Painter. The tapestries were to decorate one of the apartments in the Escorial and the subjects, chosen by the King, were to be 'rural and jocose'. Goya had delayed making the sketches as he objected to receiving his instructions from Maella instead of from the Lord Chamberlain. He eventually submitted, since he did not, as he said, want to appear proud. After the naturalism of some of the earlier cartoons, the stiffness of the figures and their artificial expressions come as a surprise. The human figures are as puppet-like as the straw manikin they are tossing in a blanket. Some of the subjects of the tapestry cartoons that Lady Holland described as 'the pleasures of the nursery' enjoyed by grown-ups were to be transformed in Goya's late lithographs into dark, grotesque parodies.