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Image of the Week: The Dreamers

4 Sep, 2015
Left: Francisco Goya y Lucientes, El sueño de la razon produce monstrusos, 1796 Right: Isaac Cruikshank, A Monkish Vision, 1797

Left: Francisco Goya y Lucientes, El sueño de la razon produce monstrusos, 1796
Right: Isaac Cruikshank, A Monkish Vision, 1797

Seeing double? Perhaps it’s time for a nap! Or maybe it’s because we’re bringing you two images of dreamers this week.

The first is from a 1796 etching made by Goya, perhaps the most famous of the set of eighty etching and aquatints known as ‘Los Caprichos’. An incomplete edition of the set is held by Wellcome Library, featuring the artist’s exquisitely sketched and fantastical satires of grotesques, monsters and witches. This image bears the line ‘El sueño de la razon produce monstrusos’ (The sleep of reason produces monsters) and Goya’s dreamer is assailed by giant bats and owls encircling him with ill-intent.

The second features a much happier dreamer etched by Issac Cruikshank a year later: a monk whose holy meditations have been replaced by wine and women in visions of distinct intemperance.

Following Tom Waits’ avowal that You’re Innocent When You Dream, we can pass over judgement of these reveries and ask what might influence the experience of dreaming? Exploring just this question, the composer Max Richter, in consultation with American neuroscientist David Eagleman, has written an eight hour lullaby that is intended specifically for sleeping listeners.

Entitled simply ‘SLEEP’, Richter’s extended composition is released today. It will have a full broadcast premiere on BBC Radio 3, performed live and overnight in front of a small audience sleeping in Wellcome Collection’s Reading Room. This nocturnal transmission will be the longest single piece of music ever broadcast on the station, and is part of an even longer event – a whole weekend of public activity, debates and one-off broadcasts in partnership between the Wellcome Collection and Radio 3 that poses the question ‘Why Music?’

‘SLEEP’ by Max Richter is released today by Deutchse Grammophon. The broadcast premiere of the live performance of the piece is aired overnight on 26th-27th September on Radio 3, from midnight to 8am. Find out more about the weekend of events – Why Music? – at Wellcome Collection, and don’t forget to tune in to hear SLEEP in full!

Image credits: Goya y Lucientes, El sueño de la razon produce monstrusos, 1796, Wellcome Library, London and Isaac Cruikshank, A Monkish Vision, 1797, Wellcome Library.

Wellcome Images is one of the world’s richest and most unusual collections, with themes ranging from medical and social history to contemporary healthcare and biomedical science. Over 100,000 high resolution images from our historical collections are now free to use under the Creative Commons-Attribution only (CC-BY) licence.

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