This oddly-dimensioned canvas was originally part of a much larger work by French painter Édouard Manet called Incident in the Bull Ring which showed both the dead toreador and the bull who had defeated him.
After receiving criticism about the painting’s composition, the artist cut the 1864 canvas into two separate paintings, allowing them individually to become more focused and intimate.
By removing every reference to the surrounding bullfight, the corpse becomes the sole focus and the work transforms into a more somber study of detail and light. The position of the toreador was probably inspired by the painting The Dead Soldier by Diego Velázquez, a painter whose work had a strong influence on the artist.
Edouard Manet’s Dead Toreador can be found in the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C.