Lot 200
  • 200

MARIO CARREÑO | Mujeres en la mesa

250,000 - 350,000 USD
bidding is closed


  • Mario Carreño
  • Mujeres en la mesa
  • Signed Carreño and dated -46 (lower left) 
  • Oil on canvas
  • 30 1/8 by 36 1/8 in.
  • 76.5 by 91.8 cm
  • Painted in 1946.


John Stephan, Connecticut
Private Collection, Richmond
Acquired from the above by the present owner 


Washington, D.C., Pan American Union, Carreño, 1947, no. 14, illustrated in the catalogue 

Catalogue Note

“Mario Carreño is the most versatile, learned, and courageous [artist] of the new generation.”— Alfred H. Barr (as quoted in Alfred H. Barr, “Modern Cuban Painters” in The Museum of Modern Art Bulletin, April 1944, Volume XI, Number 5, pp. 4-5.) Like fellow Cuban painter Wifredo Lam, Mario Carreño’s work reflects a cross-cultural dialogue between vanguard modernist practices of the first half of the twentieth century with a unique subject matter rooted in the Caribbean’s rich synthetic cultural heritage. The precocious Carreño entered Havana’s prestigious Academia de San Alejandro at the age of twelve. His education continued as he traveled extensively throughout most of the 1930s and early 1940s, spending brief sojourns in Spain, Mexico, France, Italy, and later New York shortly after the start of World War II. As a member of Cuba’s second generation of vanguard painters—including such noted figures as René Portocarrero, Mariano Rodríguez, and Cundo Bermúdez—Carreño shared his contemporaries' interest in adapting and infusing the new international style with aspects of their personal and regional circumstances. In their quest to create an art that straddled both of these worlds and a nascent sense of national identity constructed around notions of afrocubanismo, these artists borrowed from a number of sources including European modern art (best exemplified by Picasso’s primitivism), contemporary Cuban literature and music, and Cuban colonial and nineteenth-century art.

In Mujeres en la mesa, Carreño renders a placid interior scene wherein two female figures appear to enjoy the domesticity surrounding the daily ritual of a mid-afternoon tea. Synthesizing European modernist influences and traditional depiction of women in Cuban society, the scene is painted in Carreño’s characteristic color palette of the mid-1940s; a rich harmony of warm pinks, salmon tones and luscious greens applied in a singular impasto technique. Both the diamond-shaped background and the intricate stylized hatching on the back of the chair serve to connect Carreño to the European avant-garde: namely Picasso’s experimentation with Synthetic-Cubism through his use of collage masterly achieved in Still-Life with Chair Caning (1912). Carefully delineated in black and sufficiently abstracted to reveal a multitude of potential readings, the composition anticipates Carreño’s eventual geometrization of the 1950s where he would lead the ascent of Concretism in Cuba to international recognition.

We wish to thank the Fundación Mario Carreño for their kind assistance in confirming the authenticity of this lot.