Dos grupos de picadores arrollados de seguida por un solo toro [Two Teams of Picadors Thrown One After the Other by a Single Bull], plate 32 from La Tauromaquia
1815-1816 (p. 1816)
24.9 cm x 36 cm (9 13/16 in. x 14 3/16 in.)
Francisco de Goya y Lucientes (aka Francisco José de Goya y Lucientes)
(Fuendetodos, Spain, 1746 - 1828, Bordeaux, France)
Medium and Support:
Etching, burnished aquatint, drypoint and burin
Blanton Museum of Art, The University of Texas at Austin, The Leo Steinberg Collection, 2002
In 1816, Goya announced the publication of “thirty-three prints that represent different maneuvers and positions in the art of contesting with bulls.” La Tauromaquia––The Bullfight––presents some of the great figures and moments of Spain’s national pastime. Goya’s choice of subject was guided by the poet Don Nicoás Fernandez de Moratín’s brief history of bullfighting, published in Madrid in 1777, and by a manual attributed to the most famous matador of the time, Pepe Illo, published in Cádiz in 1796. While the intention and the imagery of the series are the most conventional of Goya’s print series, the Tauromaquia nevertheless involves a radical and fairly subversive critique. In these works Goya celebrates the power and nobility of the bull rather than the people portrayed, anticipating the sensibility of French Romantics like Géricault and Delacroix. Similarly, the amorphous space and flat patterning of his compositions are personal and unexpected, predicting elements in the style of critical early modernists, notably Manet.
A bull has killed one horse and upends another as picadors struggle to subdue him. This scene is the most panoramic and dynamic of the Tauromaquia. It is also the closest in spirit to the work of French Romantic artists like Géricault and Delacroix, and their celebration of the power of nature.