Picador Caught By A Bull

Francisco Goya (1746-1828), Picador Caught by a Bull, lithographic crayon and scraper, 1825. Harris 284, Delteil 287, from the edition of 100 [signed Goya in the plate lower left], printed by Gaulon, Bordeaux, from the set The Bulls of Bordeaux. In exceptionally fine condition, the matrix flawless, slight light stain, the full sheet (remains of prior hinging edges verso); 12 1/4 x 16 1/4, the sheet 15 1/2 x 20 1/8 inches.

A fine rich, black impression, printed on a cream wove paper.

Provenance: H.J. Thomas (Lugt 1378); estate of Albert Gordon. Lugt writes of Thomas: “Monsieur Henri Thomas ne fait pas l’uvre de tel ou tel matre, son but est que ses cartons offrent, en preuves exceptionnelles, un ensemble de ce que l’art de la gravure a produit de plus remarquable toutes les poques et dans toutes coles.

Goya was perhaps the first major artist to make use of the lithographic technique, in 1819 at the age of 73. His earliest experiments were with transfer lithography, using pen on transfer paper, but his “mature” work, after 1824, was done directly on the lithographic stone. He initially made five Bordeaux lithographic bulls, but discarded one of the lithographs after having taken a proof and, apparently, been dissatisfied with it.

In late 1825 Goya wrote to his friend Joaquin Ferrer, who was living in Paris at the time, sending an impression of the first of the Bulls (Corrida de novillos) and asking him if this and the other three bullfighting lithographs could be sold in Paris. Ferrer wrote that another edition of the Caprichos would have greater appeal. Goya responded “I understand and accept what you tell me about the prints of bulls but I rather had in mind that they should be seen by art connoisseurs who abound in that great court [Paris} and the great number of people who have seen them, not counting Spaniards, thought it would be easy [to sell them].” So Goya’s Bulls of Bordeaux did not appeal to the French taste of the period.

Goya wrote Ferrer that “I’ve no more sight, no hand, nor pen nor inkwell, I lack everything – all I’ve got left is will.” But with the creation of the Bulls of Bordeaux, Goya had produced one of the great monuments of printmaking.