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Sotheby's Spanish Paintings Sale to Offer the Breadth and Wealth of Iberian Masters
Ignacio Zuloaga, Lolita, Mujer Tendida con Chal Azul, Est. £350,000-550,000/€441,00-695,000. Photo: Sotheby's.

LONDON.- Sotheby’s annual London sale of Spanish Paintings goes beyond the national boundaries into Portugal and as far away as Puerto Rico to embrace pieces that enrich the historical and cultural mesh of this artistically variegated peninsula. Sourced primarily from private collections, this year’s sale includes outstanding works by Joaquín Sorolla, Ignacio Zuloaga, Romero de Torres and Joaquín Mir, artists for whom Sotheby’s has generated record prices. In addition the auction will feature paintings by the highly sought after Portuguese painters José Julio Souza Pinto and José Vital Branco Malhoa. Among the ninety lots offered at this 9th annual Spanish Paintings sale, which has a pre-sale estimate of £6 – 8.5 million/ €7.4 – 10.4 million, is a section of Modern and Contemporary paintings by leading proponents of late 20th century Spanish painting including Manolo Valdés, Antonio López, and Fernando Zóbel. During the second half of October, sale highlights will be exhibited in Bilbao, Valencia, Barcelona and Madrid. Presale viewing will commence in Sotheby’s New Bond Street galleries on 7th November, prior to the sale on Wednesday 12 November 2008.

A Quintessentially Spanish Icon
Basque painter Ignacio Zuloaga, one of Spain’s foremost international artists, captures the essence of the subject that mattered the most to him in Lolita, Mujer Tendida con Chal Azul, Est. £350,000-550,000/€441,00-695,000. A staunch defender of his nation and of all things Spanish, he presents his favourite model Lolita Lacour swathed in a mantón de manila, striking a provocative pose as she lounges on a divan holding a fan alluringly. La Morenita con Chal Blanco (The Brunette, with White Shawl) another of Zuloaga’s works of a beauty wrapped in a shawl is estimated at £220,000 - 280,000 (€278,000 – 353,000).

The sale will also feature fine examples by their Catalan counterparts such as Hermenegildo Anglada-Camarasa, with several works from different stages in his career. In Gitana con niño (Est: £250,000-350,000 /€315,000- 441,000), from 1925, this Catalan master returns to the subject of the gypsy, which he had depicted as sensual and confrontational during his time in Paris. At this stage, Anglada-Camarasa represents these complex characters in a more vulnerable light, as mothers, and frames the tender scene with a rich backdrop of vines. Flowers were prevalent in his late work in the 1940’s. He painted Bodegón de Flores, an especially fine example of his flower painting in these years (£250,000-350,000/€315,000-441,000), during his exile in Pougues-les-eaux in the south of France, following the Spanish Civil War.

Across the peninsula, in Cordoba, Julio Romero de Torres also presents his muse and model in the spirit of the gypsy but in an in altogether different light. Romero de Torres’s gipsy, Amparo (Est. £250,000-350,000 / €315,000-441,000), an very important late portrait by the artist, echoes the pose of Fuensanta which established a new world-record price for the artist’s work when it realised £825,000/€1.173.400 at last year’s Spanish Paintings sale in London.

Mediterranean seascapes
Joaquin Sorolla painted Antes del baño (Est. £1,200,000- 1,800,000/€1,520,000 – 2,270,000) on the beach of his native Valencia in 1909, at the height of his powers, the sum of a decade spent honing his technique researching his sources and refining his subject. Sorrolla’s confidence stemmed from several consecutive years of exhibitions on either side of the Atlantic which had received the highest critical acclaim. Antes del baño ranks as of the most sublime subjects that Sorolla ever committed to canvas. Other Valencian artists of the period are José Navarro Llorens, whose seafront scene Bueyes y Barcas en la Playa (Oxen and Boats on a Beach) is estimated at £30,000 - 50,000 / €37.850-63.000, and Julio Vila y Prades Recogida de la Naranja (Picking Oranges) at £18,000 - 25,000/ €22.700-31.500.

The Catalan painter Joaquín Mir also dedicated part of his oeuvre to seascapes, In Arribada del peix (Est. 150,000-200,000/€189,000-252,000), Mir catches the vibrant bustle at the port as the fishermen bring in the catch of the day. Mir worked on this painting in the 1920’s when he was at the happiest time of his life: he was well established and his artistic output at its most consistent and fluid. The painting has been in the same family since it was purchased directly from the artist and never appeared at auction before. Also by Mir and of the same period are Flores en el Jardín, (Est £80,000-120,000/€101,000-152, 000) and Miravet (Est £120,000-180,000/€152,000 – 227,00).

The work of José Maria Sert, illustrates the international influence that Catalan artists enjoyed in the early twentieth century. Included in the sale are a fine group of eleven works in oil that relate to some of Sert’s most important commissions. A decorator to some of the wealthiest and most influential collectors and connoisseurs of his time, the works in the group relate to the large scale interior that he carried out for the March family, Mallorca, Mr and Mrs Harrison Williams, New York, Madame de Berthelot, Paris, Celedonio Pereda, Buenos Aires and the public rooms of the Park Lane Hotel, London, the Waldorf Astoria, Manhattan, and the Headquarters of the United Nations, Geneva.

Portuguese pastoral scenes
For the first time the sale includes works by the highly sought-after Portuguese painters José Julio Souza Pinto, The Little Cowherd, 1897, Est. £80,000-120,000 / € 101,000-147,000 and José Vital Branco Malhoa, A Close Shave, Est. £200,000-300,000 / € 252,000-378,000.

In 1880, after receiving a first prize in painting at the Escola de Belas-Artes in Porto, Souza Pinto went to Paris, where he worked in the studios of Alexandre Cabanel, Bastien-Lepage, and Pascal-Adolphe Dagnan-Bouveret. Although he pursued his career in France and garnered great critical and commercial success – he was bestowed the titles of Officer, Member of the Jury and finally Hors-concours at the Salon, and was decorated as a chevalier of the Légion d'honneur – Souza-Pinto's work was widely exhibited in Portugal.

In A Close Shave, Malhoa's fine draughtsmanship and discerning eye for colour are evident. Malhoa created accurate yet fresh representations of popular Portuguese scenes and situations, in a style that gradually demonstrated the loose immediacy of Impressionism.

Historic Painting Discovered
The sale boasts a discovery of notable historical significance for Spain: The Battle of Treviño by the esteemed Puerto Rican painter Francisco Manuel Oller (1833-1917) Est £340,000 - 380,000/€429.000-479.000). This work is the artist’s final, largest and most important version of his depiction of this decisive battle during the Carlist Wars. It was purchased directly from the artist and has remained in the same private collection ever since, its existence hitherto unknown. (Another version is National Heritage and is in the Royal Palace, Madrid). Painted in 1879, The Battle of Treviño, although historical in nature, depicts one of the artist's friends immortalized as the key protagonist in this important military victory. Oller had several motivations to produce at least four versions of this scene: he had been appointed official painter to the Royal Court of Spain in 1872, during the reign of King Amadeo I; he was a long time friend of the hero of the Battle of Treviño—the Colonel Contreras; Contreras was promoted to General for his success battle and later was appointed royal aide to the king.

This year the sale show-cases works by some of the most prominent Spanish artists from the latter half of the 20th century. One of the most significant pieces in the contemporary section is Antonio López García’s Bodegón de las Afueras painted in 1957 and estimated at £80,000 - 100,000/€101.000-126.000. Like a collage, López chooses objects from everyday life, takes them out of context and juxtaposes them to create strikingly surreal still lifes. A skilled draughtsman but also a master in the use of colour, López transforms the most prosaic objects of life into the main subjects in his canvases.

This sale also includes Manolo Valdes’s Rembrandt's Palette (Est: £60,000 - 80,000/€76.000-101.000) as well as Alavona 267 by Fernando Zobel (Est: £40,000 - 60,000/€50.500-76.000) and Número 103 by Luis Feito (Est,£25,000-35,000/€31.500-44.100)

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