Classically inspired yet ultra-modern, the distinctive style of Cuban-Spanish painter Federico Beltrán-Masses truly defies classification. The present piece, Las Hermanas de Venecia (The Venetian Sisters), represents the master painter's uniquely romantic and bold compositions, marrying the real with the fantastic through his languorous, sensuous subjects. Saturated with passion and poeticism, his sisters evoke the great romanticism of the Pre-Raphaelites; their soulful eyes and thick tresses are a clear ode to the great Dante Gabriel Rossetti. Yet, the canvas also reveals a modernism and refined sensuality that is quintessentially Beltrán. In recent years, Beltrán-Masses and his impactful oeuvre have enjoyed a revival of interest, with retrospectives dedicated to his career held in Barcelona in 2011, and Paris and London in 2012.
Born in Cuba and raised in Barcelona, Beltrán-Masses' Spanish roots permeate deeply throughout his work. He studied under the great Spanish painter Joaquín Sorolla y Bastida at the Barcelona Academy of Fine Arts and quickly earned the support of the cultural elite in Spain, France, England, and, eventually, the United States. The artist's unique style set him apart from his contemporaries, whose work was by then firmly entrenched in the abstract planes of Cubism. He soon emerged as the leading portraitist of society's elite, a reputation that earned him the friendship of Rudolph Valentino and took him all the way to Hollywood in 1925. Valentino introduced the artist to a crowd of Hollywood elites who soon become both sitters and patrons, including Douglas Fairbanks, Marion Davies, Pola Negri and Joan Crawford. At his height, the artist portrayed celebrities and royals alike from the world over, including Alfonso XIII of Spain and the Shah of Persia, as well as millionaire industrialists and idols of the screen.
While Beltrán-Masses painted the portraits of kings, princes, princesses, Hollywood stars and society's elite, his bold, ultra-modern style led him to prefer beautiful women who defied convention. Simultaneously powerful and languidly sensual, these Venetian "sisters" proved the perfect subject for this renowned master. Exhibiting the Spanish influence and "Beltran Blue" palette for which the artist is renowned, this masterpiece of Spanish art is truly a rarity on the market today.
Canvas: 38 1/4" high x 36 1/8" wide
Frame: 42" high x 39 7/8" wide
Signature: Signed F. Beltrán-Masses (lower left)
Exposition d'kuvres F. Beltran Masses, Chez Trotti, Paris, 1931
Federico Beltran Masses, The Royal Watercolour Society Galleries, London, 1934
Federico Beltrán Masses: un pintor en la corte de Hollywood, Museu Diocesa, Barcelona, 2011
Federico Beltrán Masses: Blue Nights and Libertine Legends, Stair Sainty Gallery, London, 2012
'Federico Beltran Masses', Federico Beltran Masses, Estrella, Madrid, 1920, by J. Francés
'Troisième Congrès International de Psychothèrapie d'Hypnologie et de Psychologie appliquée', Revue de Psychothèrapie et de Psychologie Appliquée, No. 8, August 1931
Federico Beltrán Masses: Castizo Cosmopolita, exhibition catalogue, 2011, Real Academia de Bellas Artes de San Fernando, Madrid
Federic Beltrán-Masses: Blue Nights and Libertine Legends, 2012, by G. Stair Sainty and M. Finer
Estate of the artist, to his widow
By succession to the heirs of the latter
Private collection, Barcelona