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Daring Technique: Goya and the Art of Etching

Daring Technique: Goya and the Art of Etching presents thirty-three drama-filled bullfights—on paper—that collectively represent the history of the popular Spanish pastime. The scenes are brought to life—in ink—by Francisco de Goya (Spanish painter, 1746–1828), whose adaptation of and experimentation with printmaking techniques set him apart from his contemporaries and inspired generations of artists that followed.

While the official court painter to the Spanish monarchy, Goya experimented privately with printmaking, producing hundreds of works focused on social and political issues. He preferred etching, a technique that had existed for centuries but grew in popularity in Europe during the late eighteenth century. Goya’s series Tauromaquia (Bullfighting), from 1816, reflects his inventive approach and style. Throughout, unusual vantage points, dramatic diagonals, and dense lines and shadows give the prints a sense of intense drama.

A complete first edition set of Goya’s Tauromaquia is a highlight of the Milwaukee Art Museum’s collection. This exhibition contextualizes the series using prints from the Museum’s holdings, demonstrating the influences on and of Goya’s daring approach to etching and his lasting passion for his native country.

Relevant research areas: North America, 19th Century, Etching

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