Leafing though the catalogue for Swann Galleries’ Old Master Through Modern Prints Sale, I came across 14 etchings by 18th century Spanish artist Francisco Goya. Circa 1799-1825, the black and white images remain as intense and compelling as they must have seemed 200 years ago, as the ink was drying on the page.
My favourite Goya etching, “The Sleep of Reason Produces Monsters”, was among the 14 images on offer. Goya writes of “The Sleep of Reason Produces Monsters” in Los Caprichos: “Fortune maltreats those who court her. Efforts to rise she rewards with hot air and those who have risen she punishes with downfall.”
The print from the Los Capichos series depicts the artist asleep at his desk. The owls are thought to be symbols of folly, the bats, ignorance, and the cats, witchcraft.
Thinking about collectible prints, and in particular how to profit from purchasing collectible prints, somehow led me back to this quotation. “Fortune maltreats those who court her.” Of course, Goya’s intended meaning has nothing to do with investing in limited edition art works and photographic prints, but the dictum struck a chord nonetheless.
As a potential investor, the biggest mistake you can make is purchasing items that ought to be pleasurable, that out to excite a passionate response, solely for profit.
While these Goya etchings are likely to increase in value, it would be a shame if they were purchased for that reason alone.
The best advice I can think of? Buy the very best you can afford and only what you love. You never know, if, when you come to sell your collection, enough people love it too, you might just make a fortune.
P.S. Swann Galleries’ Old Master Through Modern Prints Sale takes place on May 1.