Description & Technical information

The present sheet is part of a series of drawings of bullfighting scenes executed in 1956, during the first of Domenico Gnoli’s many visits to the Balearic island of Mallorca. (Accompanied by his friend Gwendoline Hyland, he stayed at S’Arenal, on the west coast of the island.) Gnoli’s drawings were published in the American magazine Holiday the following year, under the title The Village Bullfight. 

These two drawings were part of a group of seven ink drawings from the series entitled The Village Bullfight that were exhibited at the Arthur Jeffress Gallery in London in January and February 1957. Apart from the present Picador I and Picador II, the other five drawings were subtitled Two Picadors, Behind the Barrera, Inside and Outside, Picador Riding In and Picador Riding Out. One of these drawings, depicting a mounted picador observed by several other figures and likewise dated 1956, is today in a private collection. 

Gnoli was to live and work in Mallorca for several years. The island boasted several bullfighting arenas, and the artist befriended a number of bullfighters. In 1966 he wrote a brief account of a Mallorcan corrida entitled ‘An Afternoon at the Bulls’, which was intended to appear in the magazine Sports Illustrated but was never published.

The first owner of the present pair of drawings was Helen Melville Russell-Cooke, née Smith (1898-1973), whose father was Captain Edward Smith of the Titanic.

Medium: Pen and black ink and watercolour
Signature: Numbered 2 at the upper right.
Signed and dated D. Gnoli / 56 and numbered 19 on the old backing board. Illegibly inscribed in pencil on the verso.

Dimensions: 49.9 x 35 cm (19⁵/₈ x 13³/₄ inches)
Provenance: Arthur Jeffress Gallery, London, in 1957
Purchased from them by Helen Melville Russell-Cooke
Bequeathed by her to Anthony and Marietta Coleridge, London.

Literature: Annie de Garrou Gnoli, ‘Catalogo ragionato’, in Vittorio Sgarbi, L’opera grafica di Domenico Gnoli, Milan, 1985, p.156 (not illustrated); Carlo Barbatti and Giulia Lotti, ‘A Life in Pictures and Documents: 1933-70’, in Germano Celant et al, Domenico Gnoli, exhibition catalogue, Milan, 2021-2022, p.72.

Exhibitions: London, Arthur Jeffress (Pictures) Gallery, Paintings and Drawings by Dominic Gnoli, 1957, no.19.

Categories: Paintings, Drawings & Prints