Francisco de Goya

Datos Generales
Ca. 1814 - 1816
Royal Academy of Fine Arts of San Fernando. Madrid, Madrid, Spain
45 x 72 cm
Técnica y soporte
Oil on wood panel
Reconocimiento de la autoría de Goya
Documented work
Royal Academy of Fine Arts of San Fernando
Ficha: realización/revisión
26 Apr 2010 / 26 May 2023

See The Madhouse.

Análisis artístico

For a history of the whole series, see The Madhouse.

This scene of a popular festival, ostensibly a simple genre painting for decorative purposes, is actually another representation of the madness which appears to be the leitmotiv of this set of works. Goya was a great fan of bullfighting, as demonstrated by the numerous works of varying techniques with a bullfighting theme which he produced throughout his artistic career. Nevertheless, the excesses which characterized this kind of festival, attended by spectators of all classes, were also well known to him. In fact, from the time of Philip V onwards, various royal decrees motivated by enlightened thinking were passed which banned the killing of the bull, or even the spectacle itself. But official vetoes were ignored, and all kinds of people - clerics, youths, old people, young fashionable women - continued to attend this spectacle held all over Spain and New Spain in their droves. Audiences crowded around a bullring improvised with wooden boards in a plaza.

This is exactly what Goya has represented here. There is a row of houses in the background which suggests that the setting for this bullfight is a town, carried out in light, thin brushstrokes in greyish tones which blend in with the sky. The wooden ring which separates the spectators from the fight is perfectly visible, although the furthest away part from the viewer becomes a vague, ill-defined stain, like the houses and the figures in that part of the composition. Looking along the fence we can make out figures enjoying the bullfight arranged on both sides of a man who is sitting with his back to us, forming the central axis of the scene. In the middle of the ring, a picador (mounted bullfighter) gets ready to prick the bold bull, who is tense and alert. There are some bullfighters and, in the background, another picador.

Behind the seated figure in the right-hand corner whose body allows the reddish ground of the panel to show through, there is a woman looking at the viewer with wide-open eyes. Her face reflects the horror of the spectacle she witnesses, the only one aware of the brutality of the bullfight and the madness of the masses.

  • Goya 1900
    Ministerio de Instrucción Pública and Bellas Artes
    consultant editors Aureliano de Beruete, Alejandro Ferrant, Marqués de Pidal and Ricardo Velázquez. May 1900
  • Goya: toros y toreros
    Espace Van Gogh
    displayed also at Academia de Bellas Artes de San Fernando, Madrid, consultant editor Pierre Gassier.
  • Goya. El Capricho y la Invención. Cuadros de gabinete, bocetos y miniaturas
    Museo Nacional del Prado
    from November 18th 1993 to February 15th 1994. Exhibited also at the Royal Academy of Arts, London, March 18th to June 12th 1994 and The Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, July 16th to October 16th 1994, consultant editors Manuela B. Mena Marqués and Juliet Wilson-Bareau
  • Realidad e imagen. Goya 1746 – 1828
    Museo de Zaragoza
    consultant editor Federico Torralba Soriano. From October 3th to December 1st 1996
  • Goya: Prophet der Moderne
    Alte Nationalgalerie
    from July 13th to October 3th 2005. Exhibitied also at the Kunsthistorischemuseum, Vienna, October 18th 2005 to January 8th 2006, consultant editor Manuela B. Mena Marqués
  • Goya en tiempos de guerra
    Museo Nacional del Prado
    consultant editor Manuela B. Mena Marqués, from April 14th to July 13th 2008
  • Goya
    L'œuvre peint de Goya. 4 vols
    vol. I, p. 272, cat. 247
  • pp. 256, 266, cat. 969 y p. 240 (il.)
  • GASSIER, Pierre y WILSON, Juliet
    Vie et ouvre de Francisco de Goya
    ParísOffice du livre
    vol. I, p. 319, cat. 465
  • ANGELIS, Rita de
    L’opera pittorica completa di Goya
    p. 127, cat. 559
    Francisco de Goya, 4 vols.
    ZaragozaCaja de Ahorros de Zaragoza, Aragón y Rioja
    vol. III, p. 175 y vol. IV, p. 247 (il.)
  • GASSIER, Pierre
    Goya, toros y toreros
    MadridMinisterio de Cultura, Comunidad de Madrid
    pp. 74-75
  • MENA, Manuela B. y WILSON-BAREAU, Juliet (comisarias)
    Goya. El capricho y la invención. Cuadros de gabinete, bocetos y miniaturas
    MadridMuseo del Prado
    pp. 314-320, 378-379, cat. 95 y p. 315 (
  • MENA MARQUÉS, Manuela B.
    Goya en tiempos de guerra
    MadridMuseo Nacional del Prado
    pp. 379-380, 382-384, cat. 128 y p. 383
Enlaces externos
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