Camilla Fallon blogs about Édouard Manet's The Dead Toreador, 1864 in the National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C.
Fallon writes: "The figure cuts a powerful diagonal within the rectangle’s frame. The beautiful, exquisitely dressed corpse floats before us for our inspection. We see hardly a crease in the clothes, or a mark on the body. The silent wide fact of it is a shock. Only the head is dramatically off axis. The young man is dead but just a trickle of red near his shoulder and smudge about the mouth indicates blood. Red is echoed throughout, notably in the pink satin muleta resting on the floor, emphasizing the ground plane, fixing the eye level, and leading us into the space that his body occupies. The tiny red flecks of blood on his hand and pink sash are another hint as the mottled sash bisects his body. Stretched out and motionless, this beautiful giant’s pink cummerbund conveys volume and whispers to our perceptions of stamina and virility. The head’s counter-diagonal position relays the idea that the man is dead. But Manet holds back, creating drama not by indicating action but by using extremes of light and dark, with the blackest black and the whitest white inhabiting the same color space."