PICASSO, Pablo (1881-1973, illustrator)--José DELGADO (1754-1801, alias Pepe Illo). Tauromaquia o arte de torear. Barcelona: la Sociedad Alianza de Artes Gráficas for Gustavo Gili, Ediciones de la Cometa, 1959.
Oblong 2° (345 x 490mm). Half-title. Aquatint frontispiece, 25 plates and a proof of the cover on Guarra rag paper watermarked with a bull's head after Picasso and manufactured exclusively for this edition, 2 proofs of unused plates and a suite of the 26 plates on antique Japon, 2 cancelled proofs of the unused plates and 26 cancelled plates on nacreous Guaro 'Molí-vell' paper, all by and after Picasso, printed by Lacourière, Paris under the direction of Jacques Frélaut [the plates] and Jaume Pla, Barcelona [the proof of the cover]. 10-page oblong 2° prospectus and 4-page 2° prospectus for the work inlaid to size and bound in at the end. Crushed dark blue morocco gilt designed by Paul Bonet and signed on the upper turn-in, bound by René Desmules and finished by André Jeanne, executed in 1963 and dated on the lower turn-in [Carnets 1434], covers with designs of 4 stepped irregularly-shaped cream, yellow and light and dark orange box calf onlays, with central gilt-stamped stars, surrounded by radiating and intersecting gilt fillets extending to the edges, the stepped onlays enclosed by 2 onlaid curved bands of crimson and maroon crushed morocco, 5 further waved maroon crushed morocco onlays below, the gilt spine titled with onlaid maroon crushed morocco upper-case letters, crimson suede endpapers bordered with maroon crushed morocco, gilt edges, blue card chemise with dark blue morocco spine and yapp fore edges lined with suede, the spine titled in gilt, blue paper slipcase, the corners and edges in dark blue morocco (slipcase lightly rubbed and scuffed), original etched drypoint upper wrapper by and after Picasso, printed by Jaume Pla bound in before the half-title.
NUMBER 5 OF 10 COPIES, SIGNED BY PICASSO ON THE COLOPHON, IN A FINE BONET BINDING: 'SANG ET LUMIèRE .... LE SOLEIL BRILLE DANS L'ARèNE' (Bonet Carnets). The present copy is one of 10 that include two additional unused plates, an extra suite of the plates, a suite of the cancelled plates, and a proof of the cover, the edition limited to 263 copies. Delgado's La Tauromaquia ... (Cadiz: 1796), was the first handbook for toreros and aficionados, and swiftly became recognised as an authorative tract by a highly-regarded torero, and was reprinted frequently in the following centuries. Gustavo Gili first commissioned illustrations for the work from Picasso in 1927 for his 'Ediciones de la Cometa' series, and a few images were prepared by Picasso and a preface was written by Henri de Montherlant. However, the political upheaval of the period which culminated in the Spanish Civil War and the Second World War interrupted the commission, and it was abandoned until the post-war period. In 1956 Gili's son, Gustavo Gili the younger, persuaded Picasso to return to the projected edition, and in spring 1957, four days after the Easter corrida in Arles and 30 years after the original proposal, he began work on the sequence of plates at 'La Californie' in Cannes. David Douglas Duncan, who was Picasso's guest at 'La Californie', recalled the creation of the plates in his book The Private World of Pablo Picasso (New York: 1958): 'In a period of exactly three hours he made the Arles corrida live again. He made all corridas live again [...] There was no haste in the way Picasso painted [...] Few figures needed more than a stroke of the brush. No plate took more than a couple of minutes to complete. Once the brush was lifted from the copper all painting on it was finished, forever' (p.82). That night, Picasso etched the plates, and the finished aquatints were printed by Frélaut on the press that Picasso had installed in the basement of the house. The dry point cover - which incorporates a visual pun in the form of the kite (Spanish: cometa) that adorns it - was engraved with a penknife two years later in 1959, in Vauvernargues, and the work was finished on the artist's birthday, 25 October 1959.
The speed and technique with which the images were created allowed Picasso to express 'the tension and movement of the bullring with remarkable economy of means, using abbreviated and generalised shapes' (The Artist & The Book 1860-1960). The sugar lift aquatint technique used for the plates was also reminiscent of the series's antecedents: Goya's La Tauromaquia sequence of 45 aquatint etchings that were probably initially conceived as a series of illustrations either for Delgado's work or the 1801 edition of Nicolás Fernández de Moratín's Carta Histórica sobre el origen y progresos de las Fiestas de Toros de España published in Madrid. However, the projected book appears to have been a victim of the Napoleonic invasion - to which Goya responded with Desastres de la guerra, as Picasso would respond to the Civil War with 'Guernica' - and the prints were eventually published as a portfolio in 1814 to 1816. One depicts Delgado in the bullring, and a further three show the torero's death in the arena in 1801.
Only three copies of Picasso's Tauromaquia were bound by Bonet: the first was number 15 of 18 copies (Carnets 1341), this copy, and number 35 of 220 copies (Carnets 1628). The present copy is described by the Carnets as 'sang et lumière .... le soleil brille dans l'arène': the gilt star on the box calf onlays dissolving through a sandy yellow to a fluid red/orange form, surrounded by wavelike curves of crimson and darker maroon onlays which straighten to meet the lower edge of the board, on a web of radiating gilt lines that extend out to the boundaries of the boards. The effect is dramatic, and synthesises Bonet's typical use of focal points from which forms radiate or spiral - a leitmotif throughout his career - with an elegant progression from, and abstraction of, his 'bull-skull' bindings for Picasso's Eaux-fortes originales pour les textes de Buffon (Paris: 1942, cf. Carnets 1017). The Artist & The Book 1860-1960 244; Bloch Pablo Picasso I, 950-976; Goeppert, Goeppert-Frank and Cramer 100.