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Bullfight: Death of the Toreador, 1933 by Picasso

Picasso's recent color experiments burst onto the canvas in full technicolour glory as he returns to his favorite them and personal passion: the bullfight. In later life he admitted that he often painted bullfights, traditionally held of Sundays, when unable to attend. This work was completed at Boisgeloup, the chateau 40 miles north-west of Paris, which Pacasso, now fabulously wealthy, bought in 1930.

The central images of the panicking grey horse, with its heavy brushstrokes, acts as an imposing tonal contrast, in order to exaggerate the use of color that capture the moment of the bullfighter's death. We hardly notice that the butchered horse is dying because the entrails are grey in tone. The absence of gore from horse and man is taken up by the referent image of the red cape, which swirls in a bloody cloud between the bull and the fighter who fails, like his cloak, between the two beasts. Color creates a powerful sensation of crackling energy, violent movement and death.

Picasso increasingly fixates on this theme in a prophetic series, which builds towards the celebrated Guernica (1937), his response to the Spanish Civil War, in which this horse's head reappears. The bull's stunningly detailed profile also frequently recurs in the lead up to Guernica.

Picasso's Masterpieces

  • Guernica
    Guernica
  • Les Demoiselles d'Avignon
    Les Demoiselles d'Avignon
  • The Old Guitarist
    The Old Guitarist
  • The Blue Nude
    The Blue Nude
  • Three Musicians
    Three Musicians
  • Girl Before a Mirror
    Girl Before a Mirror
  • the-dream
    The Dream
  • The Weeping Woman
    The Weeping Woman
  • Dove of Peace
    Dove of Peace
  • Head of a Woman Reading
    Head of a Woman Reading
  • Ma Jolie
    Ma Jolie
  • Portrait of Ambroise Vollard
    Portrait of Ambroise Vollard
  • Massacre in Korea
    Massacre in Korea
  • Maternity
    Maternity
  • Dora Maar Au Chat
    Dora Maar Au Chat
  • Seated Woman
    Seated Woman
  • Nude in a Black Chair
    Nude in a Black Chair
  • Jacqueline with flowers
    Jacqueline with flowers
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