Francisco de Goya, the most important Spanish painter after Velázquez, was, like his predecessor, a master portraitist. This portrait depicts Pedro Romero (1754–1839), one of the greatest toreadors of all time, idolized for his courage and control as well as his handsome appearance. He was the foremost exponent of the classical school of bullfighting established by his family in Ronda, Andalusia. Romero posed for Goya shortly before he retired from the bullring in 1799, at age forty-five, and several years after the artist had become completely deaf as a result of a serious illness.
The finery of Romero’s costume does not upstage his charismatic good looks. Goya’s study of Velázquez is apparent in the deft brushwork defining the rich fabric of his black jacket and the silver and pearl tones of his waistcoat, painted wet-in-wet, against the bright white of his shirt. The composure of the figure is in keeping with Romero’s style of bullfighting; in contrast to the recklessness of his Sevillian rivals, Romero—who was said to have killed over five thousand bulls without suffering injury to himself—relied on the skill and agility of his maneuvers and his elegant use of the cape, killing the animal with a single sword-thrust. He asserted that “the bullfighter should rely not on his feet but on his hands, and in the ring when confronting the bulls he must kill or be killed before running or showing fear.”
Adult: Portrait of the Matador Pedro Romero
Possibly Xavier Goya [1784-], son of the artist, Madrid, in 1812.
Viuda de Vera, Seville.
Henri Rochefort [1831-1913], Paris.
Léon Lafitte, Madrid.
Rodolphe Kann [1844/45-1905], Paris, after 1901 and by 1903 for Fr. 10.000;
by descent to executors of the Kann estate;
(Duveen Brothers, Paris, London, and New York, 1907).
Sir William Neville Abdy [1844-1910], 2nd Baronet, London, before 1910;
(Wildenstein & Co., New York, 1920);
Mr. and Mrs. Arthur Sachs [he: 1880-1975], New York and subsequently Paris, by 1924;
Arthur Sachs, Cannes;
purchased by Kimbell Art Foundation, Fort Worth, 1966.