Fernando Botero's artwork is world-renowned. The artist's trademark in dipicting typically round and equally smooth figures, whether they be nudes, self-portraits, still lifes or even life-sized statues is evident. Several theories regarding both Botero's methods of painting as well as the symbols the artist uses in his pictures have evolved, and in this respect, the present picture is no different.
La Visita, or as it is more commonly known, The Rich, is a fantastic portrayal of a wealthy couple. The woman's voluptuous curves, perfectly rolled hair piled atop her head and even her brightly colored fingernails are all wonderful examples of Botero's attention. The gentleman, presumeably her husband, is also depicted in minute detail --his blatant girth, a pink rose lays upon his neat lapel while just a white tuft of hankerchief reveals itself. He hold a perfectly coiled umbrella and discreetly offers his card to his hosts (most likely us, the spectators) gallantly inviting us into his highly detailed and attractive world.
In keeping with this detail oriented theme, Botero often renders highly polished works, with minor traces of brushstrokes. He heeds to the goals of an abstract painter and primarily focuses on color and form. An apt comparison to the present lot is another wealthy couple that the artist painted in the same year. The Portrait of Mr. and Mrs. Thomas M. Messer, 1968, displays a well-to-do couple who's typically Boteroesque features do not detract from the individuality of the painting. The heavy fur coat that Mrs. Messer wears, the dainty purse in her hand, and even the book the famous American museum director clutches, are all personal touches.
Admirers of Botero's work have often thought of his paintings to be subjective and distinctive; that his figures are meant first and foremost to represent color and form. This theory is most evident in his seemingly blank-faced or interchangeable figures, in the typical round figures and bold, all-encompassing colors.
In contrast to this idea, the artist's critics might argue that indeed Botero had something a bit more political or even sarcastic in mind when painting many of his works. A perfect example of this in the present lot would most obviously be the snakes in the background of The Rich. The spectator could interpret them to trace back to the age old Adam and Eve theme, where the snake is an evil temptor, someone hungry for material wealth. Whereas Botero himself could (and has) easily claimed that the snakes are present merely to introduce new forms into the painting (expanding here on his abstract painter theme), the circle of debate thus continues (1).
Whichever way the spectator chooses to view The Rich, Botero inargueably never ceases to re-interpret everyday images in such volumetric measure. He is one of the most prolific (and as we see here in the present lot), certainly imaginative artists of the Twentieth century.
1. Faerna, J.M., Great Modern Masters: Botero, New York, Harry Abrams, Inc. Publishers, 1997, p. 6