Isidro Carnicero

Carnicero, Fiesta de Toros, etching

La Fiesta de Toros en el Aire

Páez Rios Repertorio 429-2

etching, 1784, a good impression of this rare print,  the only known state (?)*, printed with some overall plate tone (notably in the foreground), with margins, on medium-fine ivory laid paper, with the "JN Guarro Y M" watermark, two short tears in the margins (upper left, which has been gummed, and bottom left, the latter consolidated with old tape on the reverse), a small triangular misprinting in the lower left (due to a scrap of paper partially overlaying the lettering: Isidr°. Carn°. l[o inh° y] grabó, año de 1784), slight traces of old mounting tape on the reverse, otherwise in quite excellent condition

P. 310 x 212 mm; S. 346x237 mm.

La Fiesta de Toros en el Aire is one of the most astonishing and farcical prints of the Spanish 18th century.  Its utterly fantastic subject of a bullfight dangling from two rather flacid balloons reminds one rather more of absurd surrealistic imagery than classical Spanish printmaking.

Isidro Carnicero was a rather well-known Valencian artist of the period, who was professsor (and eventually Director General) of the Real Academia de Bellas Artes de San Fernando in Madrid. 

Aerostatic demonstrations spread quickly across Europe after the French Montgolfier brothers first flew their hot-air balloons in 1782-83.  José Fernández Arenas(in Arte efímero y espacio estético, 1988, p. 396-7,) cites various performances held in Barcelona, Valencia, and Aranjuez in  1784, which may have inspired Isidro Carnicero's etching.  There is furthermore a famous painting in the Prado by Antonio Carnicero, his brother, showing a Montgolfier balloon flown in the gardens of Aranjuez, June 1784, attended by the royal family and their court.

The printings (or editions) of this remarkable etching are not known.  We have however located several impressions of this print in the Biblioteca Nacional de España (Madrid), the Museo Lazaro Galdiano (Madrid), the Real Maestranza de Caballería de Sevilla, and the Smithsonian Institution's National Air and Space Museum (Washington).

* This etching to our knowledge has never really been catalogued (aside from the Repertorio de Grabados Españoles by Páez Rios) or studied in depth.