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This would have allowed the young Goya to experience contact with the artistic and professional world first hand from a young age. His ambition was quite evident: Upon returning to Madrid, Goya enhanced his position at court and ingratiated himself with the wealthy and the powerful through numerous commissioned works. A series of impressive tapestry cartoons and portraits of influential members of the court resulted, on the accession of Carlos IV and Maria Luisa in , in his being appointed Court Painter.
Goya's art is remarkable in that his whole style and approach to painting changed in his mature years. This change coincided with a mystery illness the artist contracted in It took Goya many years to fully return to painting and etching and during the recuperation period, divested of his commissioned workload, he experimented greatly in style.
Upon returning to painting and etching at the end of the s, Goya had thrown off the influence of the rococo; his art gained a significantly darker, original tone. Not only had his style changed but his choice of subject matter too. He became markedly more interested in the grim everyday reality of Spain and the Spanish people. His characters, often twisted, grizzled and contorted depictions of the poor, the ignorant or the insane arguably reflected the mounting social tensions between old, "black" Spain of tradition and superstition and the modernising influence of an increasingly rationalising Europe.
Many critics have suggested that the radical change in artistic direction surely signified some disquiet and angst within the artist, frustrated with his sudden isolation and battling inner demons. It has been suggested that the frustration and melancholy prompted by his condition was further compounded by a failed romantic venture with the widowed Duchess of Alba.
Detail from Capricho Goya's depiction of a young girl incarcerated is the only plate in Los Caprichos to have no etched lines and is formed solely through aquatinting. Consequently the depth and intensity of the darkness mirrors the emotions of the subject. Los Caprichos , or The Caprices , date from this period.