Contemporary, Modern Art and Old Masters

Auction 172 - 2 March 2019

Contemporary, Modern Art and Old Masters Lot 535

Fernando Botero (Colombia / 1932)
Woman on a horse (1998)


€ 260 000 - 360 000

Sotheby's New York, 20 november 2001, lot nr. 54, purchased by the previous owner


"My whole life I have felt as though I had something to say in the language of sculpture. It is a powerful desire I have… pleasure - that of being able to touch a new reality which one creates. With painting you may give the illusion of reality but with sculpture you can touch the reality… If I paint a knife in my paintings it is imaginary; but if I sculpt it then the sensation of holding it in my hand is real. It is an object which comes from your mind, a sensual experience down to its execution. That brings a special joy to touching the material with your hands." (Fernando Botero in E. J. Sullivan, Botero Sculpture, New York, 1986)

His sculptures express Fernando Botero's unmistakable style even more prominently than his paintings. This unique boterismo overwhelms us by the monumental exaggeration of voluminous, voluptuous characters and figures. The viewer is attracted by forms radiating sensuality thanks to their fullness. The images long to be touched, their cold bronze to be cherished.

The desire for human interaction is the essence of Botero's work. His inspiration lies in the Italian Trecento and Quattrocento, where Renaissance artists such as Giotto and Paolo Uccello accord a special status to human form and figure and explore the space they occupy. Botero's work is a modern nod to great art historical motifs. He inscribes his art such as "Woman on a horse" in the long tradition of equestrian portraits, from the equestrian statue of Bartolomeo Colleoni by Andrea del Verrocchio (1480-88) to the equestrian portrait of Elizabeth of France (circa 1635) by Diego Velázquez.

Botero transforms this iconic subject into his own formal language. "Woman on a horse" is a symphony of rhythmic sequences of curves and smooth surfaces, a play of shadow and volume. The naked woman is Botero's archetype. Due to the lack of individual characteristics, she represents a universal motif. With an infinite view, she seems freed from every notion of time and space. She's a tangible ode to joy and beauty, the feminine in particular, permeated by a baroque exuberance and joie de vivre.

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