As a 15-year-old, I was enormously impressed by bullfighting during my first visit to Spain. I attended bullfights on subsequent visits to the country over the next five years and bought bullfighting paraphernalia to take home and hang on the wall of my bedroom. It seemed a glamorous, exotic sport.

This postcard is of one of Picasso’s many bullfighting pictures. It is entitled La Pique (Lancing the bull).

This is an early painting by Picasso (1901).

These pictures are of the bullring in Córdoba as it was at the time of my first visits.

Córdoba has produced several of Spain’s greatest bullfighters. In the 1960s, Manolete was touted as the greatest of all time. He died in 1947 after being gored in the ring and became an instant icon of Franco’s Spain.

This is a photo of Manolete in action.

Manolete’s house in Córdoba became a bullfighting museum and the skin of the bull that killed him hangs on the wall. The house was originally owned by the father of renowned Spanish philosopher José Ortega y Gasset.

This postcard is a picture of Manolete’s grave.

A film about Manolete (starring Adrien Brody and Penelope Cruz) was made in 2006 but has yet to be released.

These two are of monuments to the local hero.

Another Cordoban bullfighter was El Córdobés, aka “The Spanish Beatle.” He cultivated the art of celebrity and was often accused of being more about appearances than substance. So he was very much a pioneer of today’s celebrity culture.