Bullfighter Portrait Painting (Señor Torero)

Earlier this month, I bought a portrait painting of a bullfighter.

Il est maintenant mon torero!

It is one of my very favorite paintings ever.  It has nothing to do with the bullfighting sport – it has to do with the mood and essence of the piece that speaks to me.

And that is what art is supposed to do – art is supposed to speak to your soul.

bull fighter art portriat- priorhouse 2014
One of my very favorite paintings – And I was not trying to be artsy with the S words – but I went down to look at the painting – to again see why I really liked it and these words started flowing…. mon torero est Sublime, Serious, Somber, Smart, Smooth, Sad, Strong, Seasoned- and Stylish….

Now of course we all have different art tastes and those who collect art have differing reasons.

I used to collect artwork for teaching elementary art lessons – but now – I only want to collect pieces that bring zest and gusto into my life.

While I may love all kinds of paintings, sculpture, prints, and mixed media pieces – having something that you look at everyday changes everything.  In fact, I would prefer to have “no art” on display rather than having things I only half enjoyed.  Now this is not to say that I am picky about all material things, because I actually do not care about certain things.  I really don’t!  I guess I have a bit of a simple side when it comes to “possessions” – and that has been a nice, freeing quality…. but when it comes to art in the house, I am particular.


Anyhow, another interesting part about this recent art purchase is that I just gave away more than twenty paintings that were leftover classroom samples – and while they were beautiful – and I thought about keeping some for possibly doing an outreach show – I decided to pass them on rather than have them collect dust in the garage.

Here is an example of some beauties we passed on:

art I just got rid of….
Passed on pieces: An acrylic painting of a house that had cool windows – a stunning watercolor by a Georgia artist O. C. Tate, and the blingy Spring Fan print signed by the artist.


My point?

Buying a painting was the LAST thing on my list.   I was not even looking for art –  let alone a large portrait piece of a bullfighter.

But then it happened.

My husband and I were near this store that sells a bunch of post-auction art pieces.

They also have interesting books and so we decided to stop in real quick – because we were right there.

I saw this bullfighter portrait and I just kept looking at it.

I wonder if the portrait called to me even more that day because all that week I had been soaking up Modigliani portraits and I even wrote about the sketch of Gorky’s mother.

portrait art that was on my mind

But seriously, bringing home a piece of art seemed ludicrous- to both of us – because who do you think helped haul away all of those art leftovers – my husband!  And so I took a photo of Señor Torero and we left (but we each bought a book – I bought a soft cover of The Poems of Wifred Owen and he bought Grisham’s The Firm – to send to his daughter…)

But the painting haunted me for a couple of days.

I finally went back to see if it was still there.

I sighed when it was still there.

I grabbed it like it was something that I had lost.


Bullman painting now hanging at the Priorhouse
Bullman painting now hanging at the Priorhouse


And now it belongs to me.


Still reading?

Okay, for those of you die hard readers who have made it this far – well let me share bit more about this torero painting.

What cracks me up is how my husband was reacting while I was in line to pay for this piece, which was inexpensive by the way.  There I was –  doing the math in my head because if it was already 20% off and they now had a sale of “50% off of all art” – well I was wondering how that would play out  – and I ended up getting 50% off the original  (but again, we are not talking about a lot of moola here)

But you see – in line my husband started talking about how bullfighting is an “unacceptable sport” and how horrible and inhumane it is…. and while I know very little about the bullfighting sport (and I do agree with him) –well I had NO IDEA he felt so strongly about this subject. It completely caught me off guard.

It was also funny to see him react this way because he is not a super sentimental or an activist kind of guy.

He is a caring and “kind” fellow – (PTL ❤ ) but he is really not super “feelingy” –

For example, recently when a close family member of his went through something again – he was assessing his lack of empathy and wondered if it was okay…. (and I thought it was totally okay…) – and so here he was now- advocating for the bull (really??)  and he was wondering why I liked the “bullman” so much – as if to suggest that buying the art meant that I supported the sport – which in some cases it does, but it did not for me in this case.

We had some lively banter on the ride home.

details from bullman painting
Detail from Bullman portrait painting

And while my husband’s light teasing repartee was fun, I also had the chance to just tell him what I loved about señor torero – which reminded me of what a gift it is to find a piece of art that speaks to your soul.

For me, liking this portrait has nothing to do with bullfighting.

This portrait preference has to do with the personality of the man that was imbued and preserved by the artist with each brushstroke. It has to do with the rich cultural feel as the color, texture, and use of space tells me a story.

Later, I explained to my husband some of what I loved about the piece, and now want to elaborate a bit more:

It’s the eyes, which are tired, yet content.  Eyes that are a bit somber,  maybe even sad – not sure yet…. needs to permeate –

It’s the subject’s relaxed posture, which portrays smoothness and natural confidence… 

It’s the feel and mood of the well-painted mouth – smooth with softness that adds much – which sits upon this asymmetrical face that lets you feel the subject’s life seasoning. 

It’s the colors – the rich green to the upper back and the brighter green in the jacket – with the gold, cream, and maroon….

It’s the texture – which is hard to see from a photo, but the bits of texture let you feel the granules of the dirt, the cord of the embroidery, and the silk of the hat.  

And it’s the skill of the artist – which is highlighted in a work that is uncomplicated and not overdone – but yet finished with balanced use of light, half-tones, and shadows.

You see, my love for this Bullfighter portrait has nothing to do with corridas de toros – and instead – it has to do with harmonious use of space and light, which cleverly draws the eye to the left, up and down, and then over to the right- which then allows you to feel the penetrating personality of this culturally rich and seasoned subject. 

artist signature on bullman painting
Artist signature on Bullman painting- does anyone know who this artist is?


In closing, while I had fun describing what I like about this piece, we all need to keep in mind that we may not always be able to explain “why” we love something – and that is okay!

We do not always have to have rich adjectives to describe “what we love” because sometimes there are no words – or we just can’t find them.

I never expected to hang a portrait of Bullfighter in mi casa, but this unexpected treasure is a highlight of June…. and it is gift to find art that calls to you.

So what do you think?

Do you like Señor Torero?


This post was inspired by Kan’s recent post “24 hours in Seville” – HERE – where she so eloquently highlighted a bit of the wonder “that Spain has to offer.”


For more portrait art, check out the MET’s 300+ portraits HERE


Have a great weekend.


Author update  – Delancey Place’s encore selection let week featured the book Raphael by Michele Prisco. And they hand picked this wonderful La velata portrait to got with the excerpt…

“Raphael is best known and loved for his Madonnas, and for his large figure compositions in the Vatican, but much focus has recently been given to the equally great Raphael of the portraits”  Full excerpt is HERE

delancey place
La velata, or La donna velata – “The woman with the veil” by Raphael, 1514-1515



38 thoughts on “Bullfighter Portrait Painting (Señor Torero)

  1. oh lord if i was a fly on the wall watching your husband discuss morality of bull fighting, with your close family friend lol! I get the feeling they would go for hours XD

    I love that spring fan! wow! One could stare at it for hours and see different things, For a second it even looked like a shot of a different world, great choices 🙂


    1. LMAO with your comment Andy –

      and the spring fan was actually a personal like as well – and the photo does not do it justice – but just not a fit for around here, ya know?


      1. I wish I could have that fan in my study 🙂 maybe my own tororero too and see what people would say lol 🙂


      2. oh you are so funny – and had I known you liked the fan – I would have checked with you ahead of time – because I brought those pieces to the dental office!! and andy – I was thinking about you again this week – but no mas after this – but this time you came to mind it was not for the 80’s music – it was a post I read that reminded me of one of your moving poems. I will drop by your blog later and link it….


  2. Nice picture Mr. Prior, would like to ask you to take me down from the internet, as a Spaniard I don´t want to see myself in tight pants and glittering jewels wile fighting the bull……

    You said a key word here, bullfighting sport. Poeople from other countries specially call it barbaric, they can say what they want. But the previous government(who was socialist) wanted to ban bullfighting, and that just didn´t sit well at all with the Spanish people, right,left,far right far left, wherever they´re political point of views were. It´s a tradition that has been going on for centuries and it will keep on going.


    1. Lad, I like what you wrote – and I heard that a man who went to write a book about how bad bullfighting is = well he changed his mind – he said the bulls were treated more humane than most cows were for slaughter – a bull roams free for 6 years and than after the “sport” it feeds families – whereas the cows only live one year – usually confined and well – I guess he found out other things that made him change his mind. I have no opinion right now about it –

      except to say the clothes for this are purdy cool….


      1. haha, yep the tight glittering clothes are cool, but must be uncomfortable to be in them. But is part of a long tradition, and even though I don´t watch bullfights for the fact that they bore me to death, it´s a tradition that the previous government(socialist) tried to stop that “sport” and the Spanish people clearly send them a message that no way is bullfighting going to be banned. Plus if you ever go to a bullfight is a festive mood, where families gather, eat traditonal food and enjoy. Is not like everyone wants to see the bull die and the blood, there is an incredible technique about the bullfighter and how he “manages” the bull with that cape. And that is what people go to see it for.

        Recently a bullfighter, when in the first minutes of the bull getting into the arena, and after they where “face to face” he decided to spare the bull. Because the bull was worthy of being spared since in the eyes of the experts this was a great bull. Rarely happens.

        Another little interesting fact, for me I think, when the matador is going to finish the bull with his spear and he doesn´t kill the bull quickly, people start whistling at him and grabbing white pieces of cloth and waving them. They are telling the matador that he´s doing a bad job and to finish the bull quickly.


      2. Thanks for the rich details you Spanish Buckaroo – ha! jk – but seriously – thanks Sir Spaniard – it sounds like the sport you describe is not even close to what the Gladiator games were probably like – and as you note the mood, the managing techniques, and some of the incidents – well now I am very curious about this even more.

        and regarding the clothes, I think it comes down to familiarity and bias – you know, we all just adjust and get used to what we “wear for years” – and for example, my old Denver roommate who used to ride bulls (he was from Wyoming) well, his jeans were SO tight and his boots were so heavy to where I would find that uncomfortable and disabling & cumbersome – but those items were the clothes he was familiar (and conditioned) to enjoy daily. And so the white, tight pants for these athletes is probably very comfy – for “them” ya know?


  3. Seems to me that painting was meant for you, a person who admires its artistry and not the content – that is why it was waiting for you when you went back to see it. I agree that bullfighting is cruel to the animal – I certainly would not like to be taunted as the bull is taunted. Added to which, that show of masculinity is also a thing of the past.


    1. Thanks Colline – and I am still not sure how I feel about it – Now I did have a roommate that rode bulls – well he was only my roommate for a few months (I was moved out) and he moved to Denver from Wyoming and he was just a cool dude – and I bought a bunch of little cowboy hats from a craft store and decorated his room for him – ha! fun….


  4. This really is moving reading of this special painting. His somber eyes caught my attention when I first saw the photo, and your description explained why it did… This beautiful painting indeed is translated via your beautiful words. Yes, his eyes, expression, the content, colors, and lighting made it a great painting. It isn’t about the glorious bullfighting or bullfighter; it’s a story that the artist was trying to convey. I’m so glad that you went back and got it. Congratulations, Yvette!
    Thank you so, so much for this beautiful post!


  5. You have such a rich appreciation and understanding of art Y. I am afraid I cant often say why I like a painting it is more of a feel.


    1. Oh I so know what you mean – and I sometimes just say, “I dunno why, just love it…. ha!
      and thanks for dropping by Sue


  6. Wow Yvette, that’s quite a story about this painting… Glad you went back for it and it was there waiting for you…. Which it had to be, cos it seems you were meant to have it.
    I loved the way you are able to articulate what you like about it… The eyes, the expression, the colours, the composition. I can see that in how you can describe in detail about what you like in photographs too! Your artistic training (?) perhaps showing through? Most of the times I can only say whether I like something or not… But not really express why. It’s a great skill to have.
    I like what you said as well… “It is about the mood and essence of the piece and has nothing to do with bullfighting”…


    1. merci, merci Kan! And you know, I may not have even posted about it had I not read your Seville post and got all inspired by the feel of your pics, words – and those clicking castanets – O_o


  7. Art is supposed to make you feel something, doesn’t matter if it is a picture of a flower or a bull fighter. If it brings up emotions in you, then that is art. I like how you made sure to say that you weren’t materialistic, just very into art. I believe that there is a difference. I have a cork board in front of my desk, which I change at least once a month (usually more) because if something inspires me in that moment, than I want to preserve that feeling. As time goes on, some of the pieces loss their appeal. But I still have a few that have lasted…


    1. Taylor, are you sure you are not really an older adult? You have much wisdom, which is not always seen in youth!! And your cork board rotations sound lively and fun – and thanks for sharing. And regarding materialistic – well I still like some “things” – but I do try and hold possessions loosely – you know, so “stuff” does not “own” me – especially because it is relationships and love that really matters for fulfillment – even though some “items” just make life better – eh?

      And of course there are all the ubiquitous sayings – like “It all goes back in the box” and “There is no U-Haul in the graveyard” and how some people get and get, but find they always “want just a little bit more… – just a little more….”

      thanks again for the comment and visit oddtaylor! ❤ ❤


  8. I agree wholeheartedly with your explanation that art for your home needs to be something that speaks to you. I am often surprised by a piece that might not be anywhere close to what I thought would appeal to me but it just clicks. A great post!


    1. Thank you dear Northwest Artist extraordinaire – ❤ – and you had the exact word – a piece "clicks" or it doesn't – 🙂


  9. I love this painting too for the expression on his face and the beautiful texture and colors of his costume, and I really really love that you and your husband have this nice relationship where you can share this great communication! It’s awesome to feel like we are great friends with our spouses! ♥♥♥ ;^)


    1. Hi Aisha – and thanks for the nice comment – and I agree – it is such a gift to have spousal friendship. And even though my husband and I are pretty compatible in general – we are still very intentional about making sure we “care for” and nurture our bond – you know, which is by making sure we check in regularly and just communicate, communicate, communicate! ❤ (but I think it is the time together that really makes the difference) – Okay, well I hope you have a great week and it has been so nice "seeing" you during this month "sunny" month of June.


  10. I love it! the skill of the artist is evident even from a photograph! And I am not a fan of bullfighting, having been moved to tears and felt compelled to leave midway at the onesidedness of it all.


    1. Thanks Madhu – and wow, you left huh? I am not sure I could stomach either – and I do not even like to watch folks hunt deer. have a great week –


  11. Wow how you blog, Bull fights ..it is hard to see all that..but either way, the blog is nice and I enjoyed looking,, have a great week
    thank you for your likes


    1. Hi Sherri – and well, I do not always write long posts like this – even though I do type fast and it is easy (and refreshing) for me to write and write – ha! and de nada on the likes – and thank “you” for bringing a bit of sunny Florida into my life with some of your posts! 🙂


  12. I do like him very much. It’s a painting you could make up whole stories around. Such expression in his face. I like that it provoked new conversation between you and your husband.


  13. Love the post & the painting! I can see how “The Bullfighter” spoke to you, captivated you. His face says so much!! I have a few paintings like that – one is of a mermaid nursing her merbaby sitting on a rock in the light of a full moon . . . spoke to me (the subjects, the colors, the mood, the moment) & I had to have it 🙂


    1. Thanks Sadie – and your mermaid momma sounds really cool – and I bet there are some nice blues in the painting – and maybe some gold or pink? hmmmm

      anyhow, thanks for the feedback – and have a nice week.


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