After the failure at the 1865 Salon of Jesus mocked by Soldiers and of Olympia, Manet went to Spain for the first time. His main aim was to see Velazquez’s paintings at the Prado. His direct encounter with the masters of the Golden Age, including El Greco and Goya, not to mention the wealth of Italian artists in Madrid, would affect him in a number of ways.... With its harshness and dramatic tension, Dead Matador reached new heights. It is a fragment of a bullfighting scene that Manet had cut up in 1865. This was not an isolated case. Whether it was dissatisfaction or a desire to intensify the visual power of the paintings, this was a clever choice in view of the continual criticism from the press. Instead of producing ever more skillful compositions, Manet fragmented, telescoped and stimulated perception. His horse racing scenes acquired an unprecedented spirit and vitality.