Lot 54
  • 54

Claudio Bravo (1936 - 2011)

1,000,000 - 1,500,000 USD
Log in to view results
bidding is closed


  • Claudio Bravo
  • The Emperor
  • signed lower left and dated MCMCXXIII lower right
  • oil on canvas
  • 101 3/4 by 53 1/2 in.
  • 258.5 by 135.9 cm
  • Painted in 1973.


Staempfli Gallery, New York
Private Collection, New York
Acquired from the above by the previous owner
Galería Ramis Barquet, New York


New York, Staempfli Gallery, Claudio Bravo, Recent Paintings, April 19-May 25, 1974, no. 9, illustrated in color
Miami Beach, Bass Museum of Art, Claudio Bravo, Wrapped Packages, November 13, 1997-January 11, 1998, p. 36, no. 17, illustrated in color


Paul Bowles and Mario Vargas Llosa, Claudio Bravo, Paintings and Drawings, New York, 1997, no. 62, illustrated in color
Paul Bowles, Francisco Calvo Serraller and Edward J. Sullivan, Claudio Bravo, Paintings and Drawings (1964/2004), New York, 2005, p. 49, illustrated in color


The painting is in very good and original condition. The canvas is stretched on its original stretcher. The paint layer is clean and unvarnished. There are no obvious cracks, distortions or damages. There are a few tiny losses around the extreme edges, but most of these are hidden under the frame. The work should be hung as is. (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

If I had to choose an age into which I’d fit, it would have to be the seventeenth century. During that time artists copied nature in a conceptual way. They transformed the reality of their times as I try to transform the reality of ours.
Claudio Bravo

The Emperor (1973) is one of Claudio Bravo's earliest pictorial triumphs, a consummate portrayal of drapery as a subject in itself. Bravo once said that if one removed all the drapery from the paintings in the Louvre there would be very little left. Such was his natural inclination for the tactile quality of cloth that it became his life-long passion to transform, in fact, transcend its utter simplicity into the realm of the mystical. More than any other Latin American artist, Bravo elevated the genre of realism--through incomparable self-discipline--to an empirical investigation of the physical world.  

In his review of Bravo’s show of draped cloth at Marlborough in 2000, Ken Johnson of The New York Times wrote, “One feels a tantalizing mix of the spiritual and the sensual…The pictures have a vivid Modernist formal presence. The edge-to-edge fabric and the allover flickering of light and shadow create an almost abstract frontality, while color becomes an end it itself…. Indeed, you could think of this work not as realism but as a kind of soulfully enriched Color Field painting.” The late Gerrit Henry similarly described Bravo’s work in Art in America as “astonishing and riveting” and said his “paintings are praiseworthy in their fidelity to both the homely and the rare and for their rapt declamation of technical values that somehow bespeak the spiritual.” 

Classic and contemporary, Bravo's magnified reality is the palpable consequence of his technical achievement; an equal mastery of gifted draftsmanship and indirect illumination. "I use light somewhat in the way Francisco de Zurbarán did. He was one of the few painters that gave true transcendent meanings to objects. This treatment of light makes them appear more as they are. Their essence is greater," he commented. Nowhere else is Bravo's indebtedness to the 17th century more apparent than in his depiction of sumptuous drapery. Like the Baroque and Renaissance masters before him, Bravo's formal precision can be traced to his zealous and reverential study of religious and portrait painting. Among these, the Flemish painter Rogier van der Weyden's iconography and Titian's dramatic chiaroscuro were internalized as a young man during his many visits to the Prado Museum while living in Madrid. 

Bravo represented Chile in the 2007 Venice Biennale at the Museo Diocesano. Also in 2007 he had museum exhibitions at the Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Monterrey, Mexico and Espace Bellevue, Biaritz, France. In 2004 he had a major exhibition at the Musée du Monde Arabe in Paris. Previously, he had been given two retrospectives: the first in 1987-88 at the Elvehjem Museum of Art, Madison, Wisconsin, which traveled to the Meadows Museum, Dallas,Texas and Duke University Museum of Art, Durham, North Carolina; and the second in 1994 at the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes, Santiago, Chile. In 1997 an exhibition of his “package” paintings was shown at the Bass Museum of Art, Miami Beach, Florida.

Claudio Bravo's works may be found in the collections of landmark museums around the world among which are the following: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Museum of Modern Art, New York; Philadelphia Museum of Art, Pennsylvania; Baltimore Museum of Art, Maryland; Ludwig Museum, Cologne, Germany; Museo Nacional de Bellas Arte, Santiago, Chile; Museum Boymans-van Beunigen, Rotterdam, the Netherlands; and the Rufino Tamayo Museum of International Contemporary Art, Mexico.