La Fiesta Brava: Goya's 'La Tauromaquia '

Etchings by Francisco de Goya (1746-1828) illustrating the most Spanish of spectacles, the bullfight, are presented in a special exhibition at the Norton Simon Museum. The splendid, horrific, and undeniably dramatic series of engravings, entitled La Tauromaquia,  was first published by the artist in 1816. A great aficionado of the sport, Goya endeavored to present an historical panorama of the bullfight. The suite begins with the origins of the bullfight and continues into Goya's time.

While Goya's etchings of the bullfight reveal his admiration for the finesse and valor of the participants, they are no less candid in portraying the gore, danger, and violence of the sport. In certain prints, the sober tones of etching and aquatint suggest the gloom of the arena at the event of a death. In others, strong contrasts of light and dark masses impart pictorially the confusion of the bullfight, and strengthen the sense of vitality and tense emotion.

The artist engraved 44 plates in preparation, but included only 33 in the first published edition. The entire first edition of 33 prints as well as 7 prints pulled from rejected plates and examples from the fourth edition published in 1905 are included in the exhibition.