Lot 4
  • 4

Amelia Peláez (1896-1968)

125,000 - 175,000 USD
125,000 USD
bidding is closed


  • Amelia Peláez
  • Mujer con peces
  • signed and dated 1952 upper right; also signed and dated 1952 lower right 
  • tempera on paperboard 


Gift from the artist
Private Collection, Madrid


La Habana, Museo Nacional Palacio de Bellas Artes, Amelia Peláez: Exposición Retrospectiva, November 1968, no. 104 


Alejandro G. Alonso, Amelia Peláez, Havana, 1968, no. 13, p. 9, illustrated 

Catalogue Note

By 1950, decades after reaching the pinnacle of her artistic career, Amelia Peláez took an unexpected interest in ceramics. With great enthusiasm and enormous self-discipline, she delved into this new practice in a rustic studio situated by the hotel district in Santiago de las Vegas, near Havana. Bypassing her inexperience and occasional technical failures, she diligently produced her first ceramics.

Without ever neglecting her painting, ceramics came to occupy a vital part of her artistic practice. What is most remarkable however, as noted by María Elena Jubrías in her study of Peláez’s ceramics, is how influential these objects were to become on important two dimensional artworks. (1) The need to adapt to medium or smaller vases and to their inherent voluminous character implied a simplification in her iconography, a more somber and less intricate decoration.  

These formal characteristics (to which also contributed the abstracted forms of the great murals such as the one at the Tribunal de Cuentas of 1953) become definitive qualities in her painting. By the time Peláez painted Mujer con peces in 1952, she had perfected ceramic decoration and had modified her approach to two dimensional artworks on canvas and paper. While the interior scene with architectural motifs and familial characters remained her favorite genre, everything became synthesized, resolving itself into a legible reading.

Simplified in this manner are architectural and botanical motifs—both flora and fauna—which transform themselves into rhombi, rectangles, semicircles…the arabesque itself—abstract decorative patterns—attenuate the ostensible rigidity of the composition. The thick black outline works allied with—not against—color which in turn translates onto paper and canvas a harmony simply unattainable in ceramics.   

Lastly, the feminine figure is expressed through a new typology adopted by Peláez since 1950: a rhomboid head, at times very gracious, with which the drama of her earlier and more baroque compositions finally disappears. Mujer con peces is a magnificent example of the transformation undergone in the work of Peláez at the beginning of the 1950s, a fascinating painting on a permanent state of evolution and regeneration.

Ramón Vázquez Díaz, Art Historian
September 2016

1. María Elena Jubrías: Amelia Peláez. Cerámica, Ediciones Vanguardia Cubana, 2008. See especially:  “La cerámica en la pintura de Amelia, pp. 104-127.