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silla was born out of a passion for beautiful objects: special pieces with aesthetic and historical significance. In 2009, after years of collecting, Andrew Silla and his wife Grace began to work privately with clients from their residence in Southern Maryland. Quickly outgrowing the space, the business was moved from Maryland to Pennsylvania in 2012 and after several warehouse location changes it was firmly settled in the present brick-and-mortar location in downtown Shippensburg.

The 9000 square foot brick-and-mortar gallery is home to a large collection of works of art and estate jewelry. We specialize in sculpture circa 1860 through 1930 with a particular emphasis on the Animaliers and as such the gallery always has a very large collection of exceptional European and American sculpture available on display.

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"Matador with Cappa" (1953) | Malvina Hoffman

Hoffman, Malvina

Regular Price: $6,400.00
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catalog text

United States, 1885-1966

Matador with Cappo

Lost-wax cast, polychromed and patinated bronze | signed in cast "M. HOFFMAN 1953", edge engraved "ROMAN BRONZE WORKS .INC. N.Y."

Item # 404GYO12A 

Like a brilliant jewel, the present casting of Malvina Hoffman's Matador with Cappo (1953) is finished in a delicate polychromed and parcel-gilded finish with a medium-brown chemical patina on the base, cape, sword and flesh. As a result, the man positively leaps off of the base, the wonderful lapis lazuli hue of his traditional garment immediately capturing the viewer. He dances alone, leaving the unseen adversary a figment of our imagination, but the air fills the cape billowing from his hand and his steady sword remind us of the existential threat he faces. Hoffman spent the better part of two years working on a series exploring Spanish bullfighting and she writes about it in her autobiography. Bringing her several volume history of Spanish bullfighting by Cossío to Spain with her and struggling through it with her relatively elementary grasp of the Spanish language, she sought to understand both the bull and fighter - not just the rules or tradition, but the psychology and strategy involved. She spent so much time studying the anatomy of the bull after returning to her other home in Paris that she became adept in quickly modeling the bull from any angle and movement, understanding him from the inside and the interaction of all the parts. She found great parallels between the Toreros and the Russian dancers she was so familiar with modeling, the former practicing dance moves to remain light on their feet and land adeptly even in the most awkward mode of escape. While the present example is not shown in her book Yesterday is Tomorrow, a subtle variation of it is shown together with a model she admits to mistakingly calling "The Dying Bull".

A scarce model with a wonderful painterly surface, the careful blend of exacting realism and the heavy impasto of Impressionism results in a remarkably fresh interpretation of this dangerous profession.


  • Glenbow Museum
  • Christie's, New York, November 29th 2005, lot 737 (achieved $ 5400 USD)
  • Private Collection, Kansas City, acquired from the above

Artist Listings & Bibliography:

  • Yesterday is Tomorrow, Malvina Hoffman, 1965, p338-342 [discussion of her 1952-1953 period of bullfighting and the work she produced], p. 377

Measurements: 12" H x 5" D x 8" W

Condition Report:
Sculpture is photographed without the early acrylic base, which is currently out to have the missing acrylic for the back of the base fabricated to match the rest of it. Images are available upon request including the black base (which is marked with accession numbers from Glenbow Museum). Exquisite original condition, a very fine state of preservation.