La Fiesta de Toros en el Aire
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.
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
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
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).