Francisco de Goya III
by Mike Booth, Part III/III
As usual in Goya's prints, some of the most engaging characters lurk in the semi-shade of the background. Again in La Taurmaquia the maestro has resorted to etching on the back sides of some previously-etched-but-unsuccessful plates. It's not quite clear when Goya began this series, which was published in 1816. Some authors place the date as early as "the first of the 19th century," others as late as 1814. Most of the preliminary sketches for the series are preserved in the Prado Museum in Madrid, some of them including red washes with which Goya simulated aquatint effects.
The Spanish artist, Ricardo de los Ríos, bought the plates in Paris at the turn of the 20th century and brought them back to Spain. He ordered the fourth edition in 1905, again in the workshop of La Calcografía Nacional, after which the plates made their way back to Paris. Another Spaniard, Francisco Estévez Botey, bought them there in 1920, apparently in a speculative move, as he brought them back to Spain and sold them to La Calcografía Nacional.
It was during the siege of Madrid in the Spanish Civil War (1937) that the seventh and allegedly finest edition of La Tauromaquia was pulled. The plates then stayed in the Calcografía Nacional till 1979 when they were acquired by the parent organization, the Real Academia de San Fernando, who edited the eighth and last edition in 1984.
State of the Bullfighter's Art
The combination Goya/bullfight remains a powerful attraction in today's Spain. Every summer they celebrate the "corrida goyesca" ("Goyesque bullfight") in the 17th-century bullring of the mountain town of Ronda with modern-day matadors outfitted in suits from Goya's time. It's a major social event comparable to Ascot in England, where the cream of Spanish society turns out in all their finery for a day of folly, an ambiente in which Goya, the court painter, master of highest-of-high and lowest-of-low folly, would have felt very much at home.
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