Why a Rare-to-Market Fernando Botero on Sale Now Through Artnet Auctions Presents a Unique Collecting Opportunity

Botero's masterpiece painting, which carries a remarkable history, is a call back to Titian and Velázquez.

Fernando Botero, Woman in Front of a Mirror (Mujer en Frente de un Espejo) (1986).

She’s a goddess, a saint, a queen, a dream. 

The global celebration of Fernando Botero’s 90th birthday has presented the opportunity to reexamine the story of Woman in Front of a Mirror, first unveiled in 1986 across museums in Japan, and now live for bidding in a momentous Post-War & Contemporary Art sale on Artnet Auctions.

Lushly, rationally rendered, the subject stands in a deepened lavender room, green door swung open, key turned inside its lock to let in the unknown. The emerald green door mirrors the subject’s headband, as her ruby-red nail polish reflects a feathered twinkle from the bulb alight above. Her hand raised up, as if in spiritual exclamation, resembles Mary’s during a heavenly Assumption. But encircled by light like a halo, the oval mirror-altar she faces produces clear mythologies: a true Venus effect, explored by canonical artists such as Titian, Velázquez, Veronese, Rubens, and countless other masters.

Peter Paul Rubens, Venus in Front of the Mirror, 1614-1615. Courtesy of LIECHTENSTEIN. The Princely Collections, Vaduz–Vienna.

Notable for its dramatic color and scale, Maestro Botero’s Woman in Front of a Mirror is a shining star and unbeatable collecting opportunity. In fact, a more historically and visually sensational piece from the artist’s oeuvre has not come to auction in over 10 years. 

According to the Artnet Price Database, works by Botero offered in 2022 have sold for 38 percent above their mean estimates, on average, and 68 percent of lots offered have exceeded their high estimates. Six works by the Maestro have sold in the seven-figure range since 2021, signifying market momentum further bolstered by the artist’s milestone birthday.

With a $1.2 million to $1.8 million estimate, Woman in Front of a Mirror presents the rare chance to collect a work of its size and historic stature at an attractive price point.

Fernando Botero in his studio. (Photo: Mondadori Portfolio / Contributor / Getty Images)

This painting also has an impressive exhibition history.

In the year of its completion, the painting toured Japan, and was exhibited in museums and galleries in Tokyo, Sapporo, Osaka, and Niigata. In the past year, several important gallery and museum exhibitions featuring Botero, in addition to installations of his monumental sculptures, have made headlines in Japan, Hong Kong, Belgium, New York, and beyond.

Fernando Botero, Sphinx, 2018. Previously on view in New York City’s Meatpacking District. Courtesy of David Benrimon Fine Art.

Throughout his decades-long career, Botero has consistently drawn upon Old Masters.

“If I paint a picture that has the same theme as that used by a famous painter, I’m part of the same tradition,” he once said. Woman in Front of a Mirror marks a pivotal moment in the artist’s career and represents how by the 1980s, he had won Giorgio Vasari’s so-called battle between Italian disegno and colore.

If Vasari felt that only Renaissance sculptors, with their specific anatomical skills, could successfully marry drawing with color, Maestro Botero would have pleased him. The subject’s delicately modeled flesh viewed from the back gradates chromatically with a certain nonchalant sprezzatura à la Castiglione.

Botero’s masterpiece is currently available for private viewing at Artnet’s New York City headquarters. Contact Solomon Bass, Junior Specialist of Contemporary Art, at [email protected], to arrange a viewing.

Post-War & Contemporary Art is live now through May 18. 

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