Thursday, July 25, 2013

Mira the Matadora

Mira the Matadora  16 x 20, Acrylic on Illustration Board on Plywood, 2013

My latest entry in this continuing series of adventurous modern women is the image of Mira the Matadora.  This is set in an informal bull ring on a ranch where fighting bulls are raised.  Mira is about to participate in a tienta, a testing of the bulls.  She is preparing to enter the ring.  To her left, drapped over the barrier is the bullfighter's cape, with its gold/saffron lining -- the front is a light violet or magenta.  This large, semicircular cape is used by toreros in the early stages of the corrida or bullfight.  Mira is holding the smaller, red matador's cape, or muleta which is used at the conclusion of the corrida when the bull would be killed with a the red-hilted sword she is holding in her right hand.  Mira is dressed informally in the traje de corto in which are garbed novice bullfighters not yet entitled to wear the familiar gold festooned traje de luces.  However, this attractive costume has often been worn by choice by many established female bullfighters, matadoras.  It should be mentioned that lady bullfighters are not as rare as one might imagine.  Women were in the bullfighting ring as early as the 17th Century; a premier matadora of the century was a nun!  Spain has since outlawed women matadors, but not so in other bullfighting countries.  Although she mostly fought in the Portuguese style, from horseback, one of the most noted bullfighters of the mid 20th Century was Conchita Cintron.  She was from Peru, but her father was a Puerto Rican businessman and her mother an American with early New England ancestry (some of which I share, making Conchita a 7th cousin of mine).  In the 1950's two American women burst onto the bullfighting scene, Patricia McCormick from St. Louis and Bette Ford, a fashion and product model who was the subject of an Oscar-nominated short The Beauty and the Bull.  (After an illustrious career in the ring, Bette married John Meston, creator and writer of Gunsmoke and established an enduring career as an actress.)

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