Lot 29
  • 29

Emilio Pettoruti (1892-1971)

500,000 - 700,000 USD
bidding is closed


  • Emilio Pettoruti
  • Flautista ciego (II)
  • signed lower left
  • oil on wood
  • 22 1/4 by 17 1/2 in.
  • 56.5 by 44.4 cm
  • Painted in 1919-20.


Enrique Eduardo García, Buenos Aires
Gift from the above to Abraham Minujín, Buenos Aires circa 1932
Thence by descent to the present owners


This work is in beautiful condition. It is painted on a piece of plywood which is flat and shows no cracking. There are no damages or retouches. The work is noticeably dirty, with a layer of airborne dirt and a layer of yellowed varnish. The reverse shows what appears to be a fragment of an earlier work which was abandoned and lightly painted over by the artist. (This condition report has been provided courtesy of Simon Parkes Art Conservation, Inc.)
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 Flautista Ciego II occupies a unique place in Emilio Pettoruti’s artistic career. Painted in 1920, it comes at the end of a seven year period spent in Italy during which Pettoruti was exposed to Cubism and the Italian Futurist movement.  During this time, the Argentine artist absorbed the long history of classical Italian painting and sculpture as well as the Roman past. From his arrival in Florence in 1913, and during the subsequent years he spent there, he took an active role in discussions with the artists and  writers who surrounded him, becoming part of the local intelligentsia.

In Pettoruti’s paintings, certain formal and conceptual issues are always present. The dynamic construction in the foreground is based on an exploration of light as an independent value. By observing how light interacts with planes of color and forms, the artist  developed a stylistic concept which would pervade his works for many years. In El Flautista Ciego II the relationship between the figure and the background is contrasted by the geometrical synthesis of the figure and the vertical and horizontal planes of the background. The recurrent conceptual and visual tensions are resolved in dynamic images that result in a seeming state of stillness and stability.

El Flautista Ciego II, is part a series of paintings Pettoruti executed in 1920 inspired by street musicians: El GuitarristaEl AcordeonistaEl Vionchelista and La Cantante. There is another version of the Flautista, in a Chilean collection, although it is not certain which version was painted first. In Pettoruti’s oeuvre, it was his  common practice to paint more than one version of the same composition. A good example of this practice are the series of paintings which explore a still life  composition comprised of with a guitar and sheet music, placed on a table in front of an open window.  In the 1940’s Pettoruti  explored at least eight variants on this still life composition. Works in this still life series have titles such as La GuitarreLa Guitarre II, Concierto,Concierto IIInteriorEl Mantel Blanco I & II  or Hoja de música. Another example of this  practice are the many known versions seen in his famous Arlequín series.

El Flautista Ciego II is executed on wooden board, the verso of which sports an unfinished painting of a still life on a table in the interior of Pettoruti’s Milan studio. The practice of re-using materials is  typical of many painters early in their careers, when, for economic reasons, when their funds were low, re-used old works as the supports for new works.  Many paintings by Joaquín Torres-García have unfished works on their versos, as do cubist works by Diego Rivera and early works on canvas by Fernando Botero. El Flautista Ciego II  originally formed part of the collection of early Pettoruti collector and friend, Enrique Eduardo García. (another Pettoruti from Garcia’s collection, La Canción del Pueblo, 1927, is currently in the collection of MALBA in Buenos Aires). In the early 1930’s, Enrique Eduardo García gave El Flautista Ciego II  as a wedding gift to his doctor, the eminent pediatrician Abraham Minujín, and the painting has descended through the family to the present day.