A man in a white robe is seated with his back against a wooden post. In his hands he holds a crucifix; the scene is illuminated by a large candlestick at the left of the image.
One of Goya's first prints, and one not included in any of his published series such as the "Caprichos" or "Proverbios", this harsh scene depicts a man executed by strangulation, a form of capital punishment in Spain.
A drawing in the British Museum seems to have been used as a template for the print, as there are clear tracing marks, and seems to have been the only instance of Goya tracing a drawing for use in making a print (see Tomás Harris, "Goya, Engravings and Lithographs", San Francisco: Alan Wofsy Fine Arts, 1983, p. 41.)
Signed on plate at l.l.: H. Robert pinr. Printed in lower plate margin, l.: H. Robert del, jn re presentip; c.: Sachettorum Vittae rudera imitabatur. A Paris chez Janinet. Place Maubert, ancienne Hotel de la Limace, au Premier. et chez Basan. Rue et Hotel Serpente.; r.: F. Janinet. Sculp. 1778
Signed on plate at l.l.: H. Robert del; l.r.: F. Janinet sculp. Printed in lower plate margin, l.: H. Robert del.; c.: Vitta cui nomen Madama, Temporis injuria pene diruta. A Paris chez l'Auteur, Place Maubert, Hotel de la Limace.; r.: F. Janinet sculp. 1778
This etching, in a pale blue, brown and gray color scheme, depicts an outdoor scene with a large Roman style building and several human figures in the foreground. One giant wall, with two large arches, with semi-circular apses behind, crosses the middle section of the composition from left to right. It intersects a massive building that has a series of vaulted chambers. Both structures have crumbling stonework and overgrown vegetation. There are several groups of women in the foreground on both sides of a river. Some are in the water washing laundry and some are standing with wash hanging on lines. There is a small dog on the shore.
This etching shows the Villa Madama, a villa along the Tiber River, outside of Rome, that was designed by Raphael and built in the early 16th c. This villa was meant to imitate the villas of Roman antiquity and included architectural elements of that period, such as massive vaults. By the time that this etching was done in the late 18th c., Villa Madama had fallen into ruin and become a location for washerwomen to do their work. Such juxtapositions of Roman architecture (particularly ruins) and picturesque figures occupying formerly grand spaces was a speciality of the French painter, Hubert Robert. Janinet's color engraving evokes watercolors of the period by French artists working in Rome, including Robert and Fragonard.