FRANCISCO JOSÉ DE GOYA Y LUCIENTES
The Celebrated American, Mariano Ceballos from the series The Bulls of Bordeaux, 1825
Lithograph on cream wove paper
Bequest of Mrs. Kingsmill Marrs
Portraitist, muralist, genre and history painter, and printmaker, Goya was a political and social moralist whose art often castigated the repressions of the Spanish monarchy. Following a revolt by liberals in 1820, which reestablished a constitutional government, the absolutist Bourbon king Fernando VII regained power in 1823. In 1824 the disillusioned Goya went into exile in Bordeaux. There he made a set of four large bullfighting scenes, a subject featured in his series of thirty-three etchings and aquatints called Tauromaquia (1816), that constitute a tribute to this popular Spanish pastime. Working in the recently developed medium of lithography, the aged artist, who could barely see, drew entirely from memory, using a crayon directly on the lithographic stones.
This print shows the Argentine matador about to strike a bull with a short sword. Through scraping, Goya blurred the contours of the bull that Ceballos rides, thus intensifying the dynamism of its movement. A similar economy of means defines the spectators, whose forms emerge in a scintillating texture of light and shadow.