The title of this print follows on from previous plates in the series entitled The Disasters of War that show similar acts of depravity. This image is based on a real event that happened in December 1808 at the town of Chinchón, where Goya’s brother served as the parish priest. In retaliation for the death of two French soldiers, the French army massacred every townsman they could find. The depiction of the man impaled on a tree with his arms severed from his body and his face contorted in agony is one of the most horrific images of the series. In the background, the French soldiers drag their next victim towards a similar fate, emphasising the ceaseless nature of their cruelty, and the indifference with which it is carried out.