The death of the Picador

Henri-Frédéric Schopin 

The death of the Picador
Oil on canvas signed and dated 1856 lower right
Dimensions : 
125 x 160 cm / 49.21 x 62.99 inch
Dimensions with frame : 
170 x 205 cm / 66.93 x 80.71 inch

Description of the artwork

Realised in 1856, our painting shows the all dramaturgy of corrida, whose tragedy doesn’t escape from Henri-Frédéric Schopin’s brushes. 

The new introduction of corrida with bull’s killing arrived in Bayonne in August 1852. In 1853, Napoleon III married Eugénie de Montijo, countess of Teba close to the Spain crown. The new Empress enjoyed the “races in the manner of Spain”. She encouraged corridas that took place again in the 21st August 1853. As Biarritz became the summer residence of the Imperial family, Napoleon III and Eugénie were present at corridas in Bayonne in 1854, 1856 and 1857. They used to like culture of this outdoor spectacle. Corrida became fashion and the painter Schopin didn’t miss to seize this new subject in vogue. 

Here, the painter used his knowledge of history painting to describe this fatal moment in the arena. The entire movement is focused on the foreground and while the bull already knocked a picador down, he gores the horse in the center of the composition. Frightened and suffering the attack, the stallion shoots a pain look. Schopin used the all diversity of his style to describe the central scene with many details while the background seems to get lost in a haze of sander. He totally felt the movement of the corrida and manages to make us tremble in the rhythm of this tragic instant.

Especially represented by Spanish artists, like Francisco de Goya at the beginning of the 19th century, bullfighting has also been the subject of wonderful paintings by Edouard Manet circa 1865, and then became a central theme of Picasso’s work.

Available artworks

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