GOYA Y LUCIENTES, Francisco (1746-1828). [La Tauromaquia] Treinta y tres Estampas, que representan diferentes suertes y actitudes del arte de lidiar los Toros. Madrid: [probably Rafael Esteve for the artist, 1816].
Oblong half broadsheets (278 x 398mm). Manuscript title on laid paper (countermarked JN GUARROY M), manuscript table Asuntos de las Estampas on the same paper (tower watermark); 33 PLATES on a single uniform stock of unwatermarked laid paper: etchings with burnished aquatint, most with drypoint and/or burin, two with lavis.
BINDING: strictly contemporary Spanish purple half roan, decorated with a crest-roll in blind, gold-tooled fleuron repeated down the spine, green and black embossed floral boards, purple roan title label in center of the front cover with blind scroll ornament and the gilt crest-roll, TOROS DE GOYA lettered in gilt, brown and green marbled endpapers, (corners and edges slightly rubbed).
Provenance: perhaps Juan Agustín Ceán Bermúdez (see below) -- Acquired from Pierre Berès 1957.
MAGNIFICENT LARGE AND COMPLETE SET OF THE FIRST EDITION, WHICH HAD A VERY SMALL PRINT RUN, WITH BRILLIANT EARLY IMPRESSIONS OF ALL THE AQUATINTS, sharp plate-edges and full margins. Only 29 plates are known in working proofs and only pl. 33 is recorded in trial proof (Madrid BN and Douce-Ashmolean), all on watermarked paper. As Tomás Harris remarks, the first edition is "the only one in which the full qualities of the plates can be appreciated." The Tauromaquia, as it came to be known, is the RAREST of Goya's four main intaglio series. Its artistry and understanding of the emotion and beauty of the Spanish bullfight stand out among the numerous depictions and publications since the 17th century, even including Picasso's illustrations to Hillo's Tauromaquia, which were much influenced by Goya. (The final print of the Treinta y tres Estampas shows in fact Pepe Illo's death in the Plaza de Madrid.) To some extent Goya followed Nicolás Fernandez de Moratín's treatise on bullfighting, but his finest images draw on his own memories of corridas and the most extraordinary feats of the toreros he knew.
Two settings are recorded of the printed table of subjects, a unique one for the proof set in Madrid Biblioteca Nacional, another for most surviving sets of the first edition. The Vershbow set is one of only three known to have a title-page and the table in manuscript - all by the same calligrapher - with variant titles, the prints in a different order and the printed plate-numbers scratched and altered in pen-and-ink. At least one of these sets (later in the unmatched collection of Valentín Carderera y Solano), but perhaps all three, were given by the artist to his great friend, the connoisseur Ceán Bermúdez, for drafting the title and captions. Thus the Bermúdez-Carderera, Berès-Vershbow and Douce-Ashmolean sets were apparently constituted before the definitive sequence of the plates was decided and the table with drop-title was printed, almost certainly showing the earliest impressions of the first edition, while only the last-mentioned contains proof states of three plates.
A few fox-marks, some verso offsetting, but IN THE FINEST POSSIBLE CONDITION. Exhibited: Museum of Fine Arts, Boston 1974, The Changing Image - Prints by Francesco Goya no. 162 and pp.197-209. See also Eleanor Sayre, "Goya's Titles to the Tauromaquia," in: Festschrift für Hanns Swarzenski (Gebr. Mann Verlag 1973). Delteil 224-256; Harris I, pp. 173-174 and II, pp. 306-310 and nos. 204-236.