During an inventory the descendants inspect an old ledger forgotten in a bookshelf since the mid-19th century. In this large pre-printed volume, almost all pages have been used to paste an image. An inscription inside the cover by an unidentified craftsman indicates that this operation was to cost 5 fr 50 c to M. de Mirepoix.
The discoverers are not excited by the 90 hand-colored lithographs of military uniforms by Hippolyte Bellangé but this beginning leads to a treasure : the complete series of the 33 etchings of La Tauromaquia by Goya. They appreciate that the ledger was used because its 54 x 36 cm size enabled to install these 30 x 45 cm sheets with their full margin.
La Tauromaquia was published by Goya in 1816, shortly after the return of the Bourbon dynasty in France and Spain. Laval is the French ambassador to Spain from 1814 to 1823.
The theme of the death-fight between beast and men allows the artist to escape the censorship that already threatens his favorite social themes. Goya is very familiar with the details of a corrida and his images show the full variety of the action. The fact that the toro is not always the loser is an underlying political message.
Goya is a master of all engraving techniques. In 1799 the beautiful sepia tones of his aquatints of Los Caprichos are masterpieces. La Tauromaquia is printed in dark ink with very beautiful contrasts brought by the aquatint.
Maintained in very fine condition thanks to its very long storage without handling, the image album of the duc de Mirepoix isestimated £ 300K for sale by Sotheby's in London on April 4, lot 34.
A complete set in 28 x 40 cm sheet size of La Tauromaquia with the addition of a handwritten list of the images in a binding contemporary to the edition was sold on April 9, 2013 by Christie's for $ 1.9M including premium over a lower estimate of $ 400K.
SOLD for £ 510K including premium