Powerful bulls, agile bullfighters, and a fanatical crowd: bullfighting lithographs from the great Francisco de Goya

The Bulls of Bordeaux

19th century

The Bulls of Bordeaux

The Bulls of Bordeaux

— 19th century

  1. Francisco de Goya was an outstanding Spanish artist from the late-18th and early-19th centuries

  2. He was an academy professor and finally, under Charles IV (1748–1819), a court painter who created many royal portraits

  3. These impressive lithographs of bullfighting demonstrate the skill the author maintained even in his 70's

Los Toros de Burdeos

The Bulls of Bordeaux

Diversión de España

Bearing the title “Spanish Diversion”, this crowded scene show matadors fighting in the Spanish style, which traditionally involves three men facing off against six fighting bulls. This style of bullfighting is divided into three distinct phases, the first of which is the tercio de varas or "part of lances". The initial attack of the matadors is called the suerte de capote or "act of the cape", a maneuver designed to distract the bull as it is stabbed.

The Bulls of Bordeaux

Alternative Titles:
  • Los Toros de Burdeos
  • Die Bullen von Bordeaux
The Bulls of Bordeaux
The Bulls of Bordeaux
The Bulls of Bordeaux
The Bulls of Bordeaux
The Bulls of Bordeaux
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  1. Short Description
  2. Codicology

Short Description

Francisco de Goya, the important Spanish artist of the late 18th and early 19th centuries and pioneer of modern painting, primarily concerned himself with the theme of bullfighting in his late work. As a result of his productive analysis of the new lithographic techniques, he was able to produce wonderful works. The lithography series Toros de Burdeos, The Bulls of Bordeaux, demonstrates Goya’s mastery, even as he approached the age of 80. Powerful animals, agile toreros, and a crowd bursting with excitement make up the content of these four vivid and impressive lithographs!

The Bulls of Bordeaux

Francisco de Goya, the important Spanish artist of the late 18th and early 19th centuries and pioneer of modern painting, primarily concerned himself with the theme of bullfighting in his late work. As a result of his productive analysis of the new lithographic techniques, he was able to produce wonderful works. The lithography series Toros de Burdeos, The Bulls of Bordeaux, demonstrates Goya’s mastery, even as he approached the age of 80. Powerful animals, agile toreros, and a crowd bursting with excitement make up the content of these four vivid and impressive lithographs!

The Impressive Late Work

Francisco de Goya y Lucientes (1746–1828) produced the series The Bulls of Bordeaux in the year (1824–5) when he was already in his 70’s. Thus a grandiose late work of the great master of Spanish Romanticism came into being. Goya experimented continuously with new techniques, and so too with lithography in the 1820’s. While exiled in Bordeaux, the artist made the acquaintance of the lithographer Cyprien Gaulon, in whose workshop Goya familiarized himself with the new technique.

The Bulls in the Arena

The Toros de Burdeos originated as a series of four lithographs in an edition of ten copies from Gaulon’s print workshop. Goya presented the spectacle of the savage bullfights in the arena. The overwhelming power of the animals and their fury is literally palpable in the expressive depictions. A light-dark contrast underlines the explosively tense mood and the tragic moments. The crowd of spectators at the periphery cheers on the fighters. The four sheets are in landscape format, measure 54.7 x 43.5 cm, and bear the titles The Famous American Mariano Ceballos – a very popular bullfighter from the American colonies, Bravo Toro, Diversion de Espana, and Plaza partida. A sheet shows the moment of a bull’s death, when the bull has already been hit and is surrounded by multiple men with spears. Another sheet presents a group of four bulls in the middle of the depiction, a human figure is trampled under their hooves, the wild crowd of spectators and fighters is on the sidelines with numerous wounded and a some still feeling brave.

A Rare Series

The theme of bullfighting, a very popular theme of European Romanticism and not only in the visual arts, thematically connects the Toros de Burdeos, the The Bulls of Bordeaux, with Goya’s bull-paintings from the same epoch. Supposedly, the sheets were bought anonymously in a small Parisian shop for a small sum. Today, complete collections with all four pages of the series are very rare. The Toros de Burdeos is considered today to be a “primary work of lithography”!

Codicology

Alternative Titles
Los Toros de Burdeos
Die Bullen von Bordeaux
Date
19th century
Artist / School
Los Toros de Burdeos

The Bulls of Bordeaux

El famoso americano Mariano Ceballos

This exciting engraving, titled The Famous American Mariano Ceballos, depicts matador and bull a split second before they meet. An American Indian, Ceballos had previously been a favorite subject of de Goya’s. He is depicted here mounted on the back of a steer attempting to make either a wounding or killing blow with the rejón, a wooden rod tipped with a steel blade.

The exuberant crowd is depicted prominently, assembled around the gruesome action as though they were a macabre choir. De Goya did this in part as a nod to Ceballo’s American origins – it was created with an intimate setting intended to more closely represent an American rodeo rather than a traditional Spanish bullfight. This scene resembles a snap shot of a modern sporting event.

1 available facsimile edition(s) of „The Bulls of Bordeaux“

Los Toros de Burdeos
The Bulls of Bordeaux
The Bulls of Bordeaux
The Bulls of Bordeaux
The Bulls of Bordeaux
The Bulls of Bordeaux
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Los Toros de Burdeos

1 volume: Exact reproduction of the original document (extent, color and size)
Publisher
Testimonio Compañía Editorial – Madrid, 1996
Binding
Folder
More Information
Reproduction of the entire original document as detailed as possible (scope, format, colors). The binding may not correspond to the original or current document binding.
Price Category: € (under 1,000€)
Edition available
Price: Login here!
Publisher