The matador in the painting was a famous matador of the time, Cayetano Sanz y Pozas. Back in those days, such a man was a hero, a person of renown.
Manet perfectly captures the personality and pride of Cayetano Sanz, as he salutes his adoring public.
Manet could perfectly capture great celebrities of his time as well as everyday people. This was a particular talent of his.
Fascinated By Spain And All Things Spanish
This is not the only painting of Spanish influence by Manet, nor indeed the only painting of a matador. Manet’s visit to Spain shows an attraction to the culture and attractions of that beautiful country.
Manet’s visit to Spain in 1865 continued to influence him long after it was over. The influence shows in many of his paintings.
Manet particularly admired the works of Spanish painter Velázquez and spent a great deal of time studying his paintings in Madrid.
After this period, a change came over Manet’s work forever. ‘A Matador’ was the first full-length work which the painter produced, after his Spanish sojourn.
One notices Spanish influence in many of Manet’s works after this. Manet painted so many Spanish themed works, that he had an exhibition of these paintings in Paris in 1867.
Attention To Detail
Notice the detail in the painting. The pride and vanity of the matador is beautifully conveyed. Note his elegant and fashionable dress, his elaborate sideburns, the theatrical salute.
In A Matador, we can see how the celebrity shines at the centre of the painting. The painter doesn’t just capture the look of a person, but his attitude also. This is the talent of the painter shining through, as well as the subject’s characteristics.
Edouard Manet’s Journey
Falling as he did between the schools of impressionism and realism, Manet was skilled in handling multiple influences.
That’s why he was as skilled at painting a rag picker as he was at depicting a matador. His talent went beyond just conveying images. He also conveyed feelings and emotions such as pride, humility and helplessness.
Greatness of A Matador
Although it is not his best known work, ‘A Matador’ by Edouard Manet represents the trumphant side of Manet’s Spanish tryst. Unlike some of his works, which are tinged with tragedy, ‘A Matador’ represents everything which is great and triumphant about Manet’s work, partiuclarly his Spanish period.