Francisco de Goya y Lucientes (1746-1828)
Oil on canvas
78 x 57 cm
Pedro Mocarte was a chorister, a professional singer, at the Toledo Cathedral, whom tradition numbers among Goya's friends. At the time Goya completed the portrait, Mocarte was nearing the end of a distinguished career, encountering problems of hearing and vision that would soon make it difficult to continue singingintimations of which may appear in the slight squint of his left eye. Mocarte's costume so closely resembles that of a contemporary torero (bullfighter), particularly in the redecilla, the net binding his hair in a ribbon, that nineteenth-century critics regularly assumed he, too, was a bullfighter. But at this early moment in the history of the sport, its costume was still evolving, and Mocarte's attire could also have been worn by majos, bold and swaggering young men.
Throughout his life, Goya was fascinated by the bullfight. He claimed to have fought bulls in his youth, and in his art, he created several powerful paintings of bullfighting motifs as well as two series of prints on the subject, the Tauromaquia and the Bulls of Bordeaux. Furthermore, contemporary accounts describe Goya and his friends dressing as toreros on their way to a bullfight. Perhaps, Mocarte was, like Goya, an aficionado, and the artist has depicted him here adopting what had become a recent fashion in dress.
Text and images © Hispanic Society of America.