“I view the Torero as a noble, hard-fighting animal – the king of beasts”
Bernard Buffet

Buffet’s Torero: The Noble King of Beasts

Bernard Buffet’s Bernard David En Torero (Lot 1013), a superbly triumphant portrait which bears exceptional provenance and powerfully represents one of the artist’s most emblematic subjects - bullfighting. The work is dedicated to Gany David, the mother of the present model Bernard David, and wife of Emmanuel David, the first dealer who exclusively represented Bernard Buffet as early as 1948. As the co-owner of Galerie David et Garnier, Paris, David partnered with Maurice Garnier to bring Buffet international exposure and recognition. This alliance helped lead the young artist’s tremendous rise of fame in the 1950s, and soon Buffet’s fame rivalled that of Pablo Picasso, having been declared amongst The New York Times Magazine’s ''France's Fabulous Young Five” and holding a retrospective exhibition at Galerie Charpentier in 1958. Executed in 1963 at the height of his popularity, Bernard David En Torero symbolises Buffet’s close ties to the David family and a relationship that bears significance till today.

This magnificent example of Bernard Buffet’s iconic bullfighting series is unique for its identifiable sitter who’s angular, yet youthful features deviate from Buffet’s often “miserable” expressions. Garbed in an elaborate green suit and proudly shouldering a golden yellow cape, Bernard David stands as the charismatic Torero, a vision of resigned dignity as he faces his precarious dance between death and survival. The maestro’s sharp yet rhythmic brushstrokes and piercing black outlines are emboldened against the white background, enhancing the confrontational quality of the Torero image. The folds of Bernard David’s cape reverberate with calligraphic scribbles that suggest the elaborate decoration of his costume as well as the feverous energy of a bullfighter ready for battle.

“It was…[the]...religious level of ceremony, tradition, flamboyant colour and sombre gravity that had attracted him to the corrida and inspired him to produce his remarkable series of paintings, and to return again and again during the 1960s to the subject of the torero.”
Art historian, Nicolas Foulkes

Within the same year of this portrait’s completion, Buffet’s wife Annabel published a novel La Corrida du Veau d’Or (The Bull Fight of the Golden Calf). Both artist and muse were enthralled by the fatally tragic, brutal theatrics of the bullfighting tradition that other artists and writers of the 20th century felt captured the post-war zeitgeist. As art historian Nicolas Foulkes aptly explains “It was…[the]...religious level of ceremony, tradition, flamboyant colour and sombre gravity that had attracted him to the corrida and inspired him to produce his remarkable series of paintings, and to return again and again during the 1960s to the subject of the torero.” Annabel Buffet would later become Buffet’s main model for his Torero paintings, which were presented in La Corrida at the Galerie David et Garnier, elevating this iconic image in Buffet’s rich, albeit controversial, oeuvre.

「我視鬥牛士為高貴善戰的動物,猶如獸中之王。」
貝爾納·布菲

鬥技王者:貝爾納·布菲的鬥牛士

《鬥牛士貝爾納・大衛》(拍品編號1013)來源有緒,畫中的鬥牛士衣飾華麗,意氣風發,那威風凜凜的形象代表貝爾納·布菲最具標誌性的主題—鬥牛士。這位鬥牛士的原型是現實中的貝爾納·大衛,而這幅畫的題獻對象是其母親嘉妮·大衛,而嘉妮的丈夫是伊曼紐·大衛,即在1948年成為布菲的第一位獨家藝術經紀人。伊曼紐·大衛與莫里斯·賈尼耶合力在巴黎創立大衛與賈尼耶畫廊,並聯手將布菲推向國際舞台。在兩人的協助下,年輕的布菲在1950年代聲名鵲起。1958年,他在夏邦提耶畫廊舉辦個人回顧展,而且獲《紐約時報》雜誌以「神話般的五人」形容以他為首的法國藝文新星,名氣直逼畢加索。今次上拍的畫像作於1963年,正值他最受歡迎之時,作品記錄了他與大衛一家的深厚交情,至今現身拍場,實為難能可貴。

這幅莊嚴的鬥牛士畫像之所以與眾不同,在於畫中人的面容清晰可見,年輕的臉龐棱角分明,眼神深邃,顯示其正在戰鬥之中思考重要的生命議題。模特兒貝爾納·大衛以魅力十足的鬥牛士形象示人,他身披精巧奢華的青綠戰衣,左肩搭著一條黃金披風,即使面對孤注一擲的生死博弈,依然面不改容,威儀莫犯。墨黑的線條勾勒出尖銳的棱角,卻又蘊含韻律,在堊白色的背景上顯得更具穿透力,為鬥牛士逼人的氣勢再添幾分鋒芒。披風上的皺褶有如書法筆劃般鏗鏘有力,與衣服上精美繁複的裝飾相映成趣,激發出鬥牛士蓄勢待發的昂揚鬥志。

「(相撲)裡的一種宗教性儀式、傳統、色彩和嚴肅,正如以往的鬥牛場吸引著布菲,啟發他創造非凡的繪畫系列,讓他於1960年代時一次又一次地回到「鬥牛士」主題上。」
藝術史學家尼可拉斯·霍爾斯

此畫完成的同一年,布菲的妻子安娜貝出版了一本名為《金牛犢鬥牛士》的小說。可見無論是布菲還是他的繆斯,都迷戀著遊走於生死邊緣、而且充滿殘暴戲劇性的鬥牛傳統,而二十世紀也有其他藝術家和作家被這種戰後依然盛行的習俗深深吸引。藝術史學家尼可拉斯·霍爾斯精妙地分析道:「(相撲)裡的一種宗教性儀式、傳統、色彩和嚴肅,正如以往的鬥牛場吸引著布菲,啟發他創造非凡的繪畫系列,讓他於1960年代時一次又一次地回到「鬥牛士」主題上。」安娜貝後來成為布菲鬥牛士系列的主要模特兒,這些畫作在大衛與加尼耶畫廊的展覽「鬥牛」中展出,令鬥牛士的形象在布菲被某些人認為是守舊的肖像畫中得以昇華。