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Mariano Fortuny, The Bullfighter's Salute

Key facts
Full title The Bullfighter's Salute
Artist Mariano Fortuny
Artist dates 1838 - 1874
Date made probably 1869
Medium and support Oil on canvas
Dimensions 61 × 50.2 cm
Inscription summary Signed
Acquisition credit Bequeathed by Marcus van Raalte, 1916
Inventory number NG3138
Location Not on display
Collection Main Collection
The Bullfighter's Salute
Mariano Fortuny

Fortuny painted this picture of a victorious bullfighter saluting the crowd while he and his family were living in Granada in southern Spain from 1870 to 1872. Aside from the visual spectacle of bullfights, he was attracted to traditions that survived in contemporary Spain.

It is not possible to say if we are looking here at a specific bullring or one that Fortuny has imagined. However, the painting does show his lively brushwork, which anticipates Impressionism, and his skilful use of strong colours, which are tempered by delicate pinks and turquoise.

Fortuny has placed us close to the action within the bullring itself, not among the audience, and slightly below the matador, whose raised arm and jubilant face stand out clearly against the bright sky that fills the upper half of the picture. In contrast, the lower half is filled with the aftermath of the bloody fight that has just ended.

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