Lot 3
  • 3

Diego Rivera(1886-1957)

1,200,000 - 1,600,000 USD
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  • Diego Rivera
  • Paisaje cerca de Toledo
  • signed lower right; also signed on the reverse 
  • oil on canvas
  • 34 1/2 by 43 in.
  • 88 by 109 cm
  • Painted in 1913.


Collection of D. Enrique Freyman (Cultural Attaché of the Mexican Government in Paris)
Private Collection, Switzerland
Sale: Parke-Bernet Galleries, Inc., New York, Diego Rivera: Twenty-Seven Paintings of the Period 1909-1917, October 28, 1959, lot 17, illustrated
Private Collection, Mexico 
Thence by descent to the present owner 


Consejo Nacional para la Cultura y las Artes, Instituto Nacional de Bellas Artes, Diego Rivera: Catálogo General de Obra de Caballate, Mexico City, 1989, no. 102, p. 21, illustrated 
Luis-Martín Lozano, Juan Coronel Rivera, et al., Diego Rivera: Art and Revolution, Mexico City, 1999, p. 71, illustrated in color 
Manuel Reyero, Diego Rivera, Mexico, 2000, no. 22, illustrated in color


Bueno en general. Pequeños faltantes de pintura notables en zona superior derecha. Ligera craqueladura. Las etiquetas al reverso presentan algunos faltantes.
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

Not only was Diego Rivera (1886-1957) the most recognized painter of the Mexican muralist movement of the first half of the twentieth-century, he was also a leading exponent of the European avant-garde between the years of 1911 and 1921 and an outstanding Cubist painter from 1913.

It was on scholarship at the workshop of Eduardo Chicharro in Spain when the young Diego Rivera first visited Paris in 1909 and subsequently discovered the relevance of post-impressionist pictorial languages. In Paris, he marveled at everything he saw, the work of Claude Monet, Toulouse-Lautrec, Paul Gauguin and particularly Paul Cézanne produced a deep and long lasting impression. Rivera returned to Mexico briefly in 1910 only to depart once again for France to set up his studio in Montparnasse where he relocated in 1911 with his young wife Russian painter Angeline Beloff. As an artist, Rivera’s first approach to painting produced pointillist landscapes visibly influenced by Georges Seurat and presented at the Salon des Independants in 1912. After a long sojourn in Catalonia however, Rivera and Beloff left their studio located on Avenue du Maine and moved to the Spanish city of Toledo, accompanied by Mexican artist Angel Zárraga.

Guided by Zárraga, Rivera delved into the study of the work of sixteenth-century Mannerist painter, Doménikos Theotokopoulos (El Greco). Almost immediately, the young painter assimilated innovative pictorial solutions and elongated figures in several large canvases. Rivera’s individual approach to the painting of El Greco became evident in the two works he submitted at the Salon d'Automne in Paris that year. Soon thereafter, he returned to Paris in September 1912, just in time to finish some of his most ambitious works: canvases that displayed a groundbreaking interlude between El Greco and the European avant-garde. Once in a new studio in the rue du Départ, he began working on compositions that would eventually lead him to the threshold of Cubism.

This remarkable landscape from 1913—one of the few remaining in private collections—corresponds to a moment of intense experimentation when both traditional compositional elements and avant-garde notions of space are synthesized. Rivera’s mastery of perspective coexists with the appearance of numerous diagonal axes. Together they create a dynamic cross-linked geometric plane of great intensity and volume. This spatial dichotomy is particularly evident on the roof of the farmhouses located on the outskirts of the city of Toledo. The result is a Proto-Cubist painting where a gradual decomposition of space is particularly visible in the Mondrianesque trees that appear on the foreground.

Several decades later in the 1950s, Diego Rivera remembered his stylistic progression for his biographers.  In the year 1913, "I wanted to get to Cubism on the basis of what it really was, the resulting logic of Seurat, Cézanne and El Greco.”  These theoretical constructs are perfectly embodied in Paisaje cerca de Toledo.

Professor Luis-Martín Lozano
September, 2016