view under an archway into an open-air arena; group of matadors wearing colorful outfits and black hats; three horses at right, with one man at far right in saddle; at center left, man in red adjusts shoe of matador in lavender and gold with another matador smoking a cigar; man in shadow at left; received unframed

Antes de la corrida (Before the Bullfight), c. 1900

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Sorolla loved to paint his native town of Valencia, Spain, and was attentive to its cultural traditions and people. Here, he chose to paint a bull fight not by depicting the action in an areana but the anxious, hushed tension of the bull fighters and other participants before the spectacle. Sorolla takes us behind the scenes to the drama taking place in the hearts of the people who have chosen to take part in this dangerous event. The artist understood the capacity for light to be meaningful, heightening the viewer’s senses and building tension. Here he deploys it flawlessly by contrasting the tense quiet of the foreground with the illumination that will reveal the violent event. In that peek into the packed arena, cheering crowds are a marker of the thrills to come.

Details
Title
Antes de la corrida (Before the Bullfight)
Artist Life
1863 - 1923
Role
Artist
Accession Number
2021.19
Curator Approved

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view under an archway into an open-air arena; group of matadors wearing colorful outfits and black hats; three horses at right, with one man at far right in saddle; at center left, man in red adjusts shoe of matador in lavender and gold with another matador smoking a cigar; man in shadow at left; received unframed