NYC Hispanic Art and Landmarks
A Guide to Masterpieces and Monuments
'Bullfight in a Divided Ring' - Francisco de Goya
“Bullfight in a Divided Ring,” also known as “Bulls of Bordeaux,” is an 1825 oil on canvas attributed to iconic Spanish artist Francisco José de Goya y Lucientes, and on permanent display at The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City.
Born on March 30, 1746 in Fuendetodos, Spain, Goya began painting at a young age and soon was selling his countless religious paintings to Spanish churches and cathedrals. He gained recognition for it.
But this painting, from his elder years, depicts two consecutive bullfights, divided by a fence, in one single bullring. One might call it, “two for the price of one.” On the left side, a bullfighter is charging a bull with a sword. And on the right, another bull is taunted by bullfighters with firecrackers.
While bullfighting was a frequent Goya theme, especially in a celebrated 1816 series of prints called Tauromaquia, this painting was one of four lithographs published in 1825, while he was exiled in Bordeaux, France.
“He handled the crayons like paintbrushes and never sharpened them,” his friend and fellow Spanish artist Antonio Brugada told Goya’s biographer Laurent Matheron. Brugada apparently witnessed Goya’s work on the Bordeaux lithographs. “He remained standing, walking backward and forward from moment to moment to judge the effect.”
However, since Goya’s bullfight compositions also have been copied and sold as originals, on its website, the MET acknowledges that, “the use here of certain motifs that appear in Goya's other bullfight scenes has led some authorities to view our painting as a pastiche by another hand.”
But the MET also notes that in its painting, “The richness of the composition however, and the brilliant handling of the foreground crowd are worthy of Goya himself.”
“Bullfight in a Divided Ring,” is on permanent exhibit in Gallery 612 at the MET, 1000 Fifth Avenue, in Manhattan.
By Priscilla Afriyie, Lehman College
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