Before the war years, in 1927, Gustavo Gili, Sr. commissioned Picasso to create images for La Tauromaquia, o arte de torear (The Art of Bullfighting) which was the first handbook for toreros and aficionados by the great torero Pepe Illo. Picasso created a few prints for the book before the war began in Spain and the project was then shelved. Thirty years later in 1957, Henry Gili, Jr. reminded Picasso of the book and the work began anew in May of that year. In Cannes, several days after the Easter corrida that Picasso attended in Arles, he went to work in his studio and created all 26 aquatints in one day. The series is a masterful display of not only Picasso’s skill with aquatint but the powerful flow of his creative genius. Each image was quickly painted directly on the copper plate with a brush. Picasso’s unique ability to convey a moment in the sparsest lines and dabs of his brush resulted in a brilliant homage to what many consider an art form, not merely a blood sport.
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