• Christies auction house James Christie logo

    Sale 12166

    Latin American Art

    25 - 26 May 2016, New York, Rockefeller Plaza

  • Lot 43

    Fernando Botero (b. 1932)

    Three Musicians

    Price Realised  


    Fernando Botero (b. 1932)
    Three Musicians
    faintly signed and dated 'Botero 90' (lower right)
    sanguine on canvas
    73½ x 61¼ in. (186.7 x 155.6 cm.)
    Painted in 1990.

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    This work is accompanied by a certificate of authenticity signed by the artist.

    While drawing has long been admired for what it reveals about the working method of the artist, the medium is often overlooked in comparison to painting. Some artists, however, have sought to elevate drawing’s standing by treating their pencil, charcoal, chalk and pastel compositions not as studies for larger painting projects but as independent works of art in their own right. Among them, few have done more than Fernando Botero to deliberately rival painting’s dominance. Frequently life-size and rendered on canvas, Botero’s drawings assert their significance and autonomy within the maestro’s oeuvre.

    Three Musicians is a prime example of Botero’s embrace of drawing’s full potential. A life-size sanguine drawing on canvas, the work is complete in itself, not intended as the basis for a later painting. The blood-red chalk, a favorite medium of the artist, applied freehand, directly to the support, provides little room for error. Despite this challenge, Botero manages a skillful structuring of volumes and meticulous rendering of detail, demonstrating his ability as a consummate draftsman.

    Accomplished drawings like Three Musicians illustrate both Botero’s innate talent as well as his careful studying of the Renaissance, Baroque and 19th-century masters. Beginning in the 1950s during his first travels to Europe, the young Botero had the opportunity to directly examine the artistic riches of Spain, Italy and France. Not surprisingly, the artists whom Botero gravitated toward the most were Piero della Francesca, Albrecht Dürer and Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres, all of whom emphasized the primacy of line over color, or disegno over colore, to use the terms from that great debate in painting that originated in Renaissance Italy. In Three Musicians, Botero takes up the centuries-old call for disegno with a modern subject: a trumpet, guitar and drum player, wearing smart suits and fedoras, gather together to serenade their audience. A full narrative that could have been told in paint, Botero instead chose to work in monochromatic chalk, thus freeing the viewer from distractions in color and allowing our attention to settle on the adroitness of his disegno, the essence of his art.


    Private collection, Colombia.
    Felipe Grimberg Fine Art, Miami.
    Private collection, Tulsa.
    Acquired from the above.


    E. Sullivan, Botero, Drawings and Watercolors, New York, Rizzoli, 1993, p. 51, no. 66 (illustrated in color).
    M. Fumaroli, Botero Drawings, Bogotá, Villegas Editores, 1999, p. 62 (illustrated in color).
    Exhibition catalogue, Fernando Botero, Paintings, Pastels, Sculptures, Chicago, KN Gallery, 2007 (illustrated twice in color).
    Exhibition catalogue, Fernando Botero, Selected Artworks of a Universal Artist, Chicago, KMV Fine Arts, 2010, p. 27 (illustrated in color).


    Chicago, KN Gallery, Fernando Botero, Paintings, Pastels, Sculptures, 2 November-29 December 2007.
    Chicago, KMV Fine Arts, Fernando Botero, Selected Artworks of a Universal Artist, 28 October-18 December 2010.