Edouard Manet never considered himself an Impressionist and refused to show in the seven Impressionist exhibitions held during his lifetime. Nevertheless, he was considered a leading figure in this avant-garde movement. Although he used classical subjects in his early work, he painted them in a new style, seen as irreverent and unacceptable to the art establishment and critics. Always an admirer of Velázquez and Goya, Manet was influenced by the Spanish craze that swept Paris upon the arrival of Napoleon III’s Spanish wife, Eugénie. Within two years of completion of Toreadors, Manet completed 15 other paintings with Spanish subjects and became known as the “Spanish Parisian.” The pendant to Hill-Stead’s oil is The Spanish Ballet (1862), now in The Phillips Collection, Washington, D.C., USA. Manet used some of the same props in both compositions, and both reflect the work of Velázquez in composition and palette. The toreros pictured in this work had visited Paris in October of 1862. Manet asked the group to pose for him in the studio of a friend, Alfred Stevens. Upon his death in 1883, Manet’s widow gifted the painting to Mr. Stevens, who sold it soon after to London art dealer, E.J. van Wisselingh.


  • Title: Toreadors
  • Creator: Édouard Manet
  • Creator Lifespan: 1832-1883
  • Creator Nationality: French
  • Date Created: c. 1862-63
  • Physical Dimensions: L. 35 1/4 in. (89.5 cm.), W. 20 ¼ in. (51.4 cm.)
  • Type: Painting
  • Medium: Oil
  • Art Genre: Portrait
  • Art Movement: French Impressionism
  • Art Form: Painting
  • Support: Canvas
  • Depicted Topic: Toreadors, Bullfighting

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