This painting is part of the National Heritage of Mexico and cannot be removed from that country. Accordingly, it is offered for sale in New York from the catalogue and will not be available in New York. Delivery of the painting will be made in Mexico in compliance with all local requirements. Prospectives buyers may contact Christie's Representatives in Mexico for an appointment to view the work.
In 1892, Velasco traveled by railroad to the valley of Apam, where he executed drawings and oil sketches on site to later paint a small version from these sketches called Hacienda de Chimalpa [the present work]. In 1893, he made a larger painting in his studio commissioned by Jos Solorzano, who gave it to the owner of the hacienda, Don Patricio Sanz. The painter began by choosing a high location where he could feel the monumental beauty of the Apam valley in order to show the grandiose and varied effects of expanse, form, light and color. This location would give the painting an extraordinary effect of truthfulness. In addition, he placed his easel facing west in order to depict the Sierra Nevada and its spectacular volcanoes in the background. Their presence was considered necessary to enhance the monumental valley of the Apam, as well as to enrich the color and minute details of the drawing of morphological characteristics of rocks and plants, the transparency of the atmosphere and the cold light, present even on warm afternoons.
In order to give greater extension and exceptional beauty to the painting, Velasco idealized the landscape. The two paintings of The Hacienda of Chimalpa differ remarkably in the second planes. In the second version, the background occupied by the valley of Apam, is painted from a greater height, impossible to reach from the spot where he executed the first version. While gaining height, he had to invent a multiple foreshortening for the furrows of the plantation.
The artist used his best resources to portray the valley with eloquence, synthesis, variety and chromatic balance. To depict high temperatures, he used a brushstroke that plays with the contrast of light and shade on the pulpy leaves of the magueys of the plantation without defining the forms of the plants, giving them a sensation of reverberation. The light of the painting corresponds to that of noon because the objects throw a shadow that is pronounced and shortened, the product of a silver zenithal illumination. In this painting, he used the woof of the canvas as another optical quality. The technical cleanliness of the work is extraordinary; the layer of pigment is extremely thin and very clean in its application. This technical achievement, a product of the maturity and genius of the painter, began on his palette in the way he picked up color with his brush.
Sometime later one of his students, Diego Rivera, explained that his teacher Velasco had a very special way of relating colors and that it was very complex since it gave depth to a scene principally with light and color without using the traditional contrast of chiaroscuro. Rivera considered that Velasco had invented a new intrinsic valuation of color.
The Hacienda of Chimalpa leads to the summit of Velasco's artistic achievements, impregnated with attributes which sing an intense praise of nature, in which the magic of light reaches its most genial expression, the plenitud of the painter.
Maestra Mara Elena Altamirano Piolle Jos Mara Velasco: Landscapes of Light, Horizons of the Modern Era, Volume II, Museo Nacional de Arte, Mexico City, 1993, pp. 389-397