Lot 19
  • 19

David Alfaro Siqueiros (1896-1974)

150,000 - 250,000 USD
bidding is closed


  • David Alfaro Siqueiros
  • El SeƱor del veneno
  • signed and dated Sep 20-1918 lower left
  • watercolor and conté crayon on paper
  • 19 by 18 in.
  • 49 by 45.5 cm


Acquired from the artist
Francisco Orozco Muñoz, Mexico
Esther van der Wee Mommen, Mexico
Sofia Bassi Bersani, Mexico 
Claire Diericx, Countess of D'Acquarone, Mexico City
Hadelin Diericx Celorio, Mexico City
Private Collection, Mexico


Mexico City, Palacio de Bellas Artes, Instituto de Bellas Artes, Exposición Homenaje: Siqueiros, April-July 1975, cat. 4, p. 33, illustrated in color
Berlin, Zeichen Des Glaubens, Geist Der Avantgarde. Religiöse Tendenzen, May 31-July 13, 1980, p. 291, illustrated in color
Austin, Mexic-Arte Museum, From Revolution to Renaissance, Mexican Art from the Aaron Collection, July 2007-January 2008, p. 69, illustrated in color; also illustrated in color on cover


Raziel Cabildo, "Un Nuevo artista: Alfaro Siquieros", Revista de Revistas, October 27, 1918, p. 14, illustrated
Philip Stein, Siquieros. His Life and Works, New York, 1994, no. 1, p. 4, illustrated in color
Gerardo Estrada, Rafael Tovar, Roberto Hernández, Olivier Debroise, and James Oles, Retrato de una década. 1930-1940. David Alfaro Siquieros, Mexico, 1996, p. 23, illustrated in color
Universidad Autónoma de Ciudad Juárez, et. al., Siqueiros, Primeras obras: Neoimpresionismo y Art Nouveau, El Paso, 1996, p. 4, illustrated in color


Slight foxing is visible in the upper right quadrant of the paper as well as around the feet of the two solider figures. There is repaired tear in the upper right corner of the paper that measures approximately two centimeters and possibly another small repaired tear on the extreme right edge of the paper at the height of the elbow of the figure on the right. Overall, this work is in very good condition.
In response to your inquiry, we are pleased to provide you with a general report of the condition of the property described above. Since we are not professional conservators or restorers, we urge you to consult with a restorer or conservator of your choice who will be better able to provide a detailed, professional report. Prospective buyers should inspect each lot to satisfy themselves as to condition and must understand that any statement made by Sotheby's is merely a subjective qualified opinion.

Catalogue Note

El Cristo del veneno (or Señor  del veneno) is widely acknowledged as the masterpiece of Siqueiros' early period. A student of the open air schools of painting and a pupil of Alfredo Ramos Martínez (see lots 20 and 21 in this sale), this stylized figurative work shows for the first time the social themes that would occupy Siqueiro's work for the rest of his career. In a very modern narrative form, El Cristo encapsulates the various revolutions that shook Mexico for the early part of the twentieth century. In it, the foot soldiers of the revolution stand at ease with their backs to the much venerated image of El Cristo del veneno from the church of Porta Coeli in Mexico City, mirroring the break from the hold of the Catholic Church over Mexico's politics that lead to the present secular state. Loosely drawn elongated figures reminiscent of that other great artistic maverick, El Greco, the figures are a snap shot of the peasant revolutions that brought about the modern Mexico that looked to itself for inspiration rather than Europe.

The legends of the sculpture of El  Cristo del veneno are many. Known as one of the "black" Christs, the sculpture was thought to have been brought from Spain to the Church of Porta Coeli in Mexico City. In one version of the legend, an envious man tried to poison his business rival. Don Fermin was a humble and church going man who at the end of his daily visits to church and prayers, would devoutly kiss the feet of the statue of Christ. Seeing an opportunity to get rid of his business rival, the envious Don Ismael, soaked the feet of the wooden statue in a potent poison. The next day, Don Fermin went to church to say his prayers and, as usual, went to kiss the statue's feet. As he bent down, the statue suddenly pulled up his legs so that Don Fermin could not kiss them and thus saved the life of this devout businessman. The statue turned black from the poison and froze in its unusual posture with its legs up. The story of the miracle spread throughout the city and many came to pray at its feet. The statue was moved to the Cathedral of Mexico City where it can be seen today.

The phenomena of the "black" Virgins and Christ statues is something seen in Spain when statues were buried to protect them from invading Visigoths from the north. The statues absorbed tannins from the soil and darkened. Examples in Spain are the Virgen del Sagrario de Toledo and the Virgen de Monserrat in Catalonia. In the New World, these dark skinned statues and devotional images took on a different meaning when the indigenous population embraced them as depictions of themselves rather than symbols of a western european religion. Mexico's own Virgen de Guadalupe is dark (actually grey) in contrast to Murillo's rosy cheeked portrayals of the Immaculate Conception. Other dark images in the Americas include El Señor de los Temblores (The Lord of the Earthquakes) from Peru and Nuestra Señora de Los Angeles (Our Lady of the Angels) from Costa Rica.