The Daring of Martincho in the Ring at Saragossa (Temeridad de Martincho en la plaza de Zaragoza), from the series La Tauromaquia

Enlarge image

Francisco de Goya (Spanish, 1746–1828)
The Daring of Martincho in the Ring at Saragossa (Temeridad de Martincho en la plaza de Zaragoza), from the series La Tauromaquia, 1816
Etching, burnished aquatint, and drypoint
plate: 9 5/8 × 13 13/16 in. (24.45 × 35.09 cm)
Bequest of Howard L. Zetteler in memory of his wife, Evelyn H. Zetteler M1983.204.18
Photo credit: John R. Glembin
Not Currently on View

Francisco de Goya's passion for bullfighting is evident in the more than 125 paintings, drawings, and prints he made on the subject. Considering bullfighting to be both a sport and an art, Goya savored the subtle pleasures of well-executed suertes, or movements in the ring. He was troubled, however, because bulls were routinely overtired and matadors often resorted to cheap tricks to amuse audiences.

Goya's greatest tribute to bullfighting is La Tauromaquia. This compelling series of thirty-three etchings and aquatints, of which the museum owns an entire first-edition set, chronicles the development of the bullfight from its earliest beginnings to its modern form. Plate 18 shows the famous matador Martincho, seated with feet shackled, close to the gate from which the bull charges. Behind the barrier - drawn in a dizzying angle of perspectives that heightens the palpable tension of the moment - spectators nervously anticipate an uncertain and fateful outcome. Goya has drawn us from the anonymous mass of onlookers into the very center of the ring to experience directly a desperate and lonely battle of life and death. La Tauromanquia, Goya's most subtle, yet challenging work, depicts brutal as well as glorious moments in which man is never shown as victorious and his animal opponent is always lively and intelligent.

Excerpt from Building A Masterpiece: Milwaukee Art Museum. New York: Hudson Hills Press, 2001, p. 186. Entry by Terry Marvel.

Publication History
Milwaukee Art Museum. Building a Masterpiece: Milwaukee Art Museum. New York: Hudson Hill Press, 2001, p. 186, color illus. p. 186, color details p. 176, 177.

Goldstein, Rosalie, ed. Guide to the Permanent Collection. Milwaukee, Wisconsin: Milwaukee Art Museum, 1986, p. 78, b/w illus. p. 78.
Exhibition History
Daring Technique: Goya and the Art of Etching, Milwaukee Art Museum, April 20 – September 9, 2018.


This information is subject to change as the result of ongoing research.