Spanish artist Rafael Cidoncha remembers his friend and mentor ahead of the sale of fine and decorative arts that adorned his homes — and which inspired the Chilean painter’s distinctive and celebrated works
The Claudio Bravo Collection: From the Artist’s Studio and Home, Morocco takes place on 13 July at Christie’s South Kensington, and presents a unique opportunity to acquire the fine and decorative art that belonged to and inspired the late Chilean artist.
Claudio Bravo (1936-2011) was, until his death, arguably the most prestigious Chilean painter of his time. A hyperrealist who was heavily influenced by Renaissance and Baroque artists, Bravo is best known for his still life paintings, portraits and series of tied packages. He also made drawings, lithographs, engravings and small sculpture.
A Spanish chestnut side table. Late 17th/early 18th century. 31 in (79 cm) high; 67¼ in (171 cm) wide; 28 in (71 cm) deep. Estimate: £2,000-4,000. Also depicted in Bravo’s painting on the right: A William and Mary walnut mirror. Late 17th century, possibly Dutch. 39 x 34 in (99 x 86.5 cm). Estimate: £2,500-4,000; Three Spanish walnut armchairs. 17th-19th century. The orange velvet-covered examples: 46½ in (118 cm) high; 25½ in (65 cm) wide; 20 in (51 cm) deep, and slightly smaller, the green velvet-covered example: 45 in (114 cm) high; 26 in (66 cm) wide; 21½ in (54.5 cm) deep. Estimate: £1,200-1,800. These lots are offered in The Claudio Bravo Collection: From the Artist’s Studio and Home, Morocco on 13 July 2016 at Christie’s in London, South Kensington
Claudio Bravo, La Vista, 1997 © The Estate of Claudio Bravo, courtesy Marlborough Gallery, New York
After gaining international recognition as a successful society portraitist in Madrid, Bravo moved to New York for a short period in which he held multiple exhibitions.
‘Claudio lived a life entirely dedicated to the arts, with painting being his particular focus,’ recalls the artist Rafael Cidoncha, who first met Bravo at the Galería Vandrés in Madrid, where they both held exhibitions.
Claudio Bravo, Vanitas, 1981 © Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (2003.29)
‘His paintings had such a unique purity of colour, the like of which I had never seen before,’ explains Cidoncha, now regarded as one of the most important figurative Spanish artists of the 20th century. ‘They were like rays of light amongst what was, at the time in Spain, a very dull artistic environment.’
After eleven years in Madrid, Bravo moved to Morocco, where he created two magnificent homes filled with fine art, furniture and objects. Both homes stimulated him creatively and, on occasion, became the theatrical setting for his paintings. In one, a 19th-century mansion, he knocked down or whitewashed many of the interior walls to maximise the ‘Mediterranean lighting’.
Claudio Bravo, Caballos, 2011 © The Estate of Claudio Bravo, courtesy Marlborough Gallery, New York
When Cidoncha was training in oil painting, Bravo had offered him the opportunity to paint with him in his studio over the summer months. Following that first invitation, Cidoncha travelled to Morocco and a lifelong relationship developed between the two men. ‘He lived to paint,’ reveals Cidoncha, ‘and always surrounded himself with beauty.’
Claudio Bravo, Djellabas Verdes y Azules, 1994 © The Estate of Claudio Bravo, courtesy Marlborough Gallery, New York
Bravo spent the last 30 years of his life living and working in Morocco, which was to heavily influence his later work. ‘He was a true Renaissance man and his homes were like living museums,’ Cidoncha recalls. ‘They resonated with a spiritual atmosphere created by the exquisite detail of every object as well as its intrinsic beauty. Each object’s placement, proportion, and interaction with other works of art was a reflection of his spatial sense and awareness of order. He was a man of taste with an intuitive eye — with years of practice, yet with an innate spontaneity.
Claudio Bravo, Mi Estudio, 1996 © The Estate of Claudio Bravo, courtesy Marlborough Gallery, New York
‘Claudio’s passion for art drove him to surround himself with objects of great beauty.’ Drawn from a wide variety of cultures and origins, they included paintings, drawings, prints, bronzes and ceramics, as well as Greek and Roman sculptures, marbles, kilims, Chinese paintings, jade, books and much more.
Estimates range from £400 up to £60,000 and highlights include a Roman marble male figure, circa 2nd century A.D. (estimate £30,000-50,000) and Sfera by Arnaldo Pomodoro (estimate £40,000-60,000). The collection also includes a group of works on paper by Bravo and some of his artist’s materials.
Claudio Bravo, La Chilaba Amarilla, 1990 © The Estate of Claudio Bravo, courtesy Marlborough Gallery, New York
‘Each object in this sale allows one to appreciate Claudio’s varied and refined taste,’ says Rafael Cidoncha. ‘They reflect the memory of a truly unique artist.’