Lot 12
  • 12

Fernando Botero (b. 1932)

500,000 - 700,000 USD
495,000 USD
bidding is closed


  • Fernando Botero
  • La Pudeur (Modesty)
  • inscribed with artist signature, numbered 1/6 and stamped with foundry mark on the base
  • bronze


Acquired from the artist by the present owner 


Jean-Clarence Lambert, et al., Botero Sculpture, Bogotá, 1998, no. 64, illustrated in color 
Edward J. Sullivan, Botero Sculpture, New York, 1986, p. 90, illustrated in color 

Catalogue Note

According to the history of art, the earliest Venuses, three dimensional representations of the human figure, were figurines of women. Purposely inflated by their creators, their unrealistic and quasi-abstract bodies projected the strength of their fertility through exaggerated breasts, hips, buttocks, and heads. Since then, sculpture has idealized women in a variety of forms. Indeed, some five thousand years ago, Mesopotamian civilizations celebrated the goddess Ishtar through sculpture. The attributes of this supernatural goddess differed greatly from a later descendant, the Greco-Roman Venus-Aphrodite. It was the Greek sculptor Praxiteles who dared to create the very first image of a naked goddess in Western civilization.

In the complete corpus of Fernando Botero's painted work it is not unusual to find direct references to classical art. Botero is a devoted student of the old masters having dedicated years to the study of classical compositions and painting techniques. As he started his lifelong pursuit of sculpture in the mid-1970s, he immediately turned to antiquity for sources of inspiration. Botero, much in the way of the great artists of the Italian Baroque, treasured ancient Roman sculpture as one of the foundations of our visual culture. Like many figurative artists before him, Botero adopted antique poses for his subjects ultimately reshaping the female body with his original personal style and surprising aesthetic solutions.

La Pudeur (Modesty) is visibly inspired by the Capitoline Aphrodite model: a standing Venus advances her hand to hide her pubis much as Manet would later do with Olympia. Nonetheless, while Aphrodite raises her other hand to hide her breasts, Botero humorously chose to hide Modesty’s buttocks therefore making her protuberant breasts all the more visible. Modesty’s frontal inexpressive gaze also reminds us of ancient Mesopotamian worshiper's eyes who seem transfixed in their prayers. Completely unaware of her surroundings, the figure appears as a live size doll. While distilling a sense of unaware frailty and vulnerability, an undeniable monumentality attests to her continued presence.