Mariano Rodriguez (Cuban 1912-1990)
Mariano Rodriguez (Cuban 1912-1990)

Mujer con jarra

Mariano Rodriguez (Cuban 1912-1990)
Mujer con jarra
signed and dated 'Mariano 43' (lower right)
oil on canvas
24 x 20 in. (61 x 51 cm.)
Painted in 1943.
Francisco V. Portela collection.
Amelia Rodríguez collection, New York.
Private collection, Madrid.
Exhibition catalogue, Mariano, una energía voluptuosa, Havana, Casa de las Américas, 1998, p. 41, no. 35 (illustrated in color).
Exhibition catalogue, Mariano, 'Mariano Rodríguez: La identidad del color' essay by Luz Merino, Madrid, Centro Cultural del Conde Duque, Mariano, 1998, p. 64-65 (illustrated in color).
Exhibition catalogue, Mariano, Montecarlo, Salle d'Exposition du quai Antoine 1er, 2004, p. 34 (illustrated in color).
Exhibition catalogue, Mariano, Salamanca, Sala de Exposiciónes de Santo Domingo, 2004, p. 41 (illustrated in color).
D. Montes de Oca, Mariano: Tema, discurso y humanidad, Escandón Impresores, Sevilla, 2004, p. 28 (illustrated in color).
Havana, Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes, El artista del mes, Mariano, 1964, no. 19.
Havana, Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes, Mariano Rodríguez, Exposición retrospectiva, 1975, no. 115.
Havana, Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes, Obras escogidas (1936-1990), 1991.
Havana, Casa de las Américas, Mariano, una energía voluptuosa, 1998, no. 35.
Madrid, Centro Cultural del Conde Duque, Mariano, 1998, no. 8.
Mexico City, Museo de Arte Moderno, Orígenes y la vanguardia cubana, 2000, no. 29.
Montecarlo, Salle d'Exposition du quai Antoine 1er, Mariano, January - February 2004, no. 28.
Salamanca, Sala de Exposiciónes de Santo Domingo, Mariano, May - June 2004, no. 9.

Lot Essay

This work is sold with a certificate of authenticity signed by Dolores and Alejandro Rodríguez; to be included in the forthcoming catalogue raisonné of the artist, Vol I (1936-1949) under no. 803/07.

On January 1943, a few of what eventually would become Mariano's most recognized iconic works were shown at the Lyceum in Havana. Among three of the most often reproduced are: Woman with a Parasol, 1943; The Fishbowl, 1943; and Patio del Cerro, 1943. Were we to place all three on a single wall--we would instantly discern that to Mariano, the female figure was a dominant concern. Calm interiors, reclining or seated elegant women, at times leaning on a balcony--or often illustrated in beautiful armchairs during their siesta--reflect the continuation of refined portraiture tradition that had been the trademark of artists such Guillermo Collazo (1) and José Arburu Morell (2) at the end of the 19th century. In spite of the differences in fashion and taste and the fact that a span of nearly fifty years exists between Mariano and these artists, the shared concentration in the female figure links all these artists. However, as art historian and scholar Juan A. Martínez has noticed, "in contrast with his predecessors's representation of Cuban women as comely and sedate, Mariano's are monumental and assertive." (3)

Far too often, critics and art scholars have persisted on focusing on Mariano's frequent depictions of roosters, as his primary focus. The artist has been insistently labeled as a "painter of roosters;" in truth, the title "painter of women" would have been more rightly earned; and it is precisely in 1943 when the artist breaks away from a lethargic portrayal of female protagonists in order to depict them "performing everyday tasks as an expression of their daily life." (4)

Mujer con jarra is undoubtedly one of the remarkable examples of a wide and diverse range of works that clearly reveals Mariano's mature and confident style denoting his uniqueness as one of the most noteworthy Latin American modernists. It was first shown at Cuba's Museo Nacional 1964. Following this exhibition, it was included in a retrospective organized in 1998 at Casa de las Américas. Afterwards, the work has extensively been featured in frequent exhibitions making it one of Mariano's most popular and well-known works.

In spite of the apparent simplicity of the scene, in Mujer con jarra we find a number of elements that attempt to capture the viewer's attention in a skillful manner: woman, jug, and urban landscape. Mariano, the most celebrated colorist of his generation, uses color in a way that creates a convincing focal point. Blues, reds, greens and yellows surround a large white jug, and become the protagonists of the scene.

There are at least three drawings by the artist that are variations on the same theme, which may have served as sketches for this work. In Mujer con jarra and other similar works created that same year, we encounter a phase of the artist's work in which he experimented with formal issues, leading the way to more complex compositions with the same theme (Woman on a Balcony, 1944) up to the appearance of certain surrealist scenes and narratives (La Finca, 1944). None of these experiments were gratuitous or inconsequential. One subject was continued in the work Mariano realized during the subsequent two or three years; while the other evolved into his "black series," developed between 1948 and 1949.

Mujer con jarra becomes, alongside other paintings of the early forties, an essential point of reference for the work of a young painter who would later become one of the great masters of the Cuban avant-garde.

José Veigas Zamora
Project Director, Catálogo razonado, Mariano 1936-1949, Vol. I
(1) Guillermo Collazo, painter of The Siesta, was born Santiago de Cuba, 1850 and died in Paris, 1896.
(2) Painter José Arburu Morell was born in Havana, 1864 and died in Paris, 1896.
(3) J. A. Martínez, "Carreño, Mariano Rodríguez and Cuban Modern Paintings," in Christie's New York, Important Latin American Paintings and Drawings, (Part I), 6 May 1995.
(4) L. Merino, "Mariano Rodríguez: La identidad del color, " Mariano, exhibition catalogue, Centro Cultural Conde Duque, Madrid, Spain, p. 21.

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