In Qué valor! [What Courage!], a woman seen from behind prepares a canon. She is part of a triangular composition, along with the corpses that are piled at her feet. By means of the aquatint technique, Goya managed to reproduce the gradual darkening of the sky, from the canon to the horizon. The mountain in the background echoes the triangular shape. The woman’s white dress and the white shirts of the lifeless bodies create a light source that attracts the viewer’s attention.
Some scholars have associated the protagonist of this scene to Agustina of Aragón (Barcelona, 1786 – Ceuta, 1857), who took part in the first siege of Zaragoza and excelled at defending the city against the French offensive on July 1, 1808. Likewise, it is plausible that the etching might depict Manuela Sancho y Bonafonte (Plenas, 1783 – Zaragoza, 1863), who also participated in the city’s defense.
By placing her facing backwards without portraying her face, Goya transformed her into a symbol of bravery and of women’s decision to take part in the war.