GOYA’S MASTERPIECE TAUROMAQUIA: EXTRAORDINARY RARE 1855 SECOND EDITION, FINELY PRINTED FROM THE ORIGINAL PLATES, WITH ORIGINAL PAPER WRAPPERS BOUND IN
GOYA Y LUCIENTES, Francisco José de. Colección de las diferentes suertes y actitudes del arte de lidiar los toros, inventadas y grabadas al agua fuerte por Goya [Tauromaquia]. Madrid: Calcografía de la Imprenta Nacional, 1855. Thirty-three etched and aquatinted plates on heavy wove paper; original printed paper front wrapper with etched portrait of Goya and original printed paper rear wrapper with table of contents bound in appropriately. BOUND WITH: Eight etched and aquatinted plates (portrait of Goya and seven additional bullfighting scenes) on heavy laid paper with Arches watermark. [Paris: Loizelet, 1876]. Oblong folio, contemporary brown cloth boards with gilt lettering, expertly rebacked and recornered in calf, retaining the original stitching. Housed in custom half morocco clamshell box. $140,000.
Rare second edition of Goya’s magisterial survey of the “fiesta nacional”—33 dramatic etched and aquatinted plates of bullfighting scenes in early impressions from the original plates etched by Goya. This copy bound with the seven additional plates published for the first time in the 1876 third edition.
While most of Goya’s prints were conceived as series, only two such series were released during his lifetime: Caprichos and this, Tauromaquia, and consequently these works best reflect Goya’s own organization. These are “Goya’s most technically finished etchings and show the mastery of subtle effects he had gained through his experiments in The Disasters of War” (Tomlinson, 222). Only 33 plates were included in the initial issue of the series in 1816, released with the title Treinta y tres estampas que representan diferentes suertes y actitudes del arte de lidiar los Toros. A second edition—the present copy—was published in 1855, and a third was issued in Paris in 1876, with seven additional plates, under the title La Tauromachie.
This second edition copy contains the complete 33 plates that appeared in both the first and second editions, finely printed here in black (umber) ink on wove paper, with the original front and rear printed paper wrappers bound in (with Goya’s engraved self-portrait on the front wrapper and the list of plates on the rear wrapper). In the 40-year interval between the appearance of the first edition and the printing of the second, it was inevitable that a few of the copperplates would have deteriorated slightly, apparently owing to the oxidization of the copper. For the most part, however, the plates are finely printed, beautiful impressions, retaining all the subtlety of Goya’s original designs in which he carefully mixed the techniques of aquatint, lavis, drypoint and burin. These second edition impressions are clearly superior to the heavily inked images pulled by Loizelet in the third edition some 20 years later (seven of which are included in this copy, making for convenient comparison between the two editions).
At some point after the second edition the French engraver Loizelet bought the original Tauromaquia copperplates. Seven of the 33 plates had finished etchings on the reverse that Goya had made in preparation for the Tauromaquia but decided not to include as part of the final series.
Loizelet was the first to publish these earlier designs, adding them to the original 33 in his edition printed in Paris in 1876, bringing the total number of images to 40. (Four other early plates remained unpublished.) According to Harris, Loizelet lettered the seven “new” plates A-G, and he issued these seven plates both with new impressions of the original 33 and separately, presumably for those who already owned a copy of the first or second edition. The seven “new” plates included in this copy are unlettered, possibly indicating early impressions. Loizelet printed his edition in dark sepia ink on laid paper with the Arches watermark.
The title Goya gave to the series reflects an intention to depict different bullfighting maneuvers. However Goya also included within the etchings a history of bullfighting, from its origins in hunting by prehistoric Spaniards, until the choreographed encounters of the contemporary era. Despite the popular subject, these prints did not sell well during Goya’s lifetime. Stylistically they were revolutionary: “Compared with the normal stock of print dealers and bookshops… Goya’s etched and aquatinted plates must have appeared unpolished and incomprehensible. Goya’s prints have neither the naïve simplicity of Carnicero’s rather wooden scenes, nor the circumstantial detail and high finish expected of realistic, illustrative works. Each plate presents a dramatic moment in a particular encounter between a wild and dangerous bull and men whose emotions, or their proud control of them, are written on their faces or expressed in the turn and thrust of their bodies. The primitive intelligence of the ‘ancient Spaniards’, the supple grace of the Moors, the majestic appearance and courage of the plumed and armored Christian princes and noblemen, and finally the down-to-earth bravery and skill of the professional toreros of Goya’s time, all these are shown in a way which emphasizes the tension and drama of each contest… The infinitely varied character of the etched line and the subtle or dramatic use of aquatint tones convey the images in an impressionistic, even expressionist, form which must have been beyond the comprehension of the ordinary public and even of the more enlightened collectors” (Wilson-Bareau, 67-8).
Goya “developed a most striking independence of style, and with it attained a more typical expression of the sentiment of his country than any other artist, before or since… He still stands as one of the greatest virtuosi of an art which had only been introduced a few years before his work commenced… It is in these plates that Goya’s individual genius in the art of composition pure and simple can best be studied. Plates such as No. 16 (Martincho vuelca un toro) show a brilliance in concentration, a command of spacing, an unfailing grasp of the mysterious power of a veil of light and shade, that place them at once among the greatest triumphs of art” (Hind, A History of Engraving and Etching, 252, 256). Plates No. 20 (Ligereza y atrevimiento de Juanito Apiñani), No. 21 (Desgracias acaecidas en el tendido de la plaza de Madrid), and No. 31 (Banderillas de fuego) are the most famous and representative of the series. Rare. Harris II, 308.
Occasional spotting to broad margins of plates. The images themselves are fine impressions, from the original copper plates, of Goya’s breathtaking survey of the dangerous art of bullfighting.