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Prints and Drawings
Artist: Francisco Goya, Spanish, 1746–1828

Modo con que los antiguos Españoles cazaban los toros á caballo en el campo (The Way in which the Ancient Spaniards Hunted Bulls on Horseback in the Open Country), Plate 1 from La tauromaquia

1876

Etching, burnished, aquatint and drypoint

platemark: 25 × 35 cm (9 13/16 × 13 3/4 in.)
The Arthur Ross Collection
2012.159.39.1
In the mid-1810s, Goya made his only series of etchings besides the Caprichos to be published in his lifetime, the Tauromaquia (The Art of Bullfighting)—probably the least known of his series. By no means a retreat on Goya’s part to a “safe” subject, one that he could illustrate without fear of censorship, this enigmatic group of thirty-three etchings still awaits a comprehensive explanation. It has been read on at least one level as a history of the Spanish people through their national sport, bullfighting, as it was practiced by the barbarians, Moors, nobles, and Spaniards of Goya’s time. But the series has also been understood as a satire directed against what Enlightenment thinkers saw as a barbaric form of entertainment, which in fact had been prohibited—with exceptions in 1785, and completely in 1805—but restored by the French king Joseph Bonaparte in 1810. Goya, as a fan of bullfighting but also an enlightened thinker, probably felt a strong ambivalence toward the sport.
Geography: 
Made in Spain
Culture: 
Spanish (?)
Period: 
18th century
Classification: 
Works on Paper - Prints
Provenance: 

William H. Schab Gallery, New York; Arthur Ross Foundation, New York, to 2012; Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, Conn.

Note: This electronic record was created from historic documentation that does not necessarily reflect the Yale University Art Gallery’s complete or current knowledge about the object. Review and updating of such records is ongoing.