Master Paintings

Master Paintings

View full screen - View 1 of Lot 54. Cuadro de Comedor (Guacamaya, barril, frutero de cristal cortado y calabaza).

José Agustín Arrieta

Cuadro de Comedor (Guacamaya, barril, frutero de cristal cortado y calabaza)

Auction Closed

May 25, 03:13 PM GMT


80,000 - 120,000 USD

Lot Details


José Agustín Arrieta

1803 - 1874

Cuadro de Comedor (Guacamaya, barril, frutero de cristal cortado y calabaza)

oil on canvas

canvas: 29¾ by 39¾ in.; 75.5 by 101.1 cm

framed: 42 1/10 by 52 3/10 in.; 107 by 133 cm 

Please note: This painting may be considered an artistic monument of Mexico and, if so, could not be exported without the approval of the Instituto Nacional de Antropología e Historia (INAH). Accordingly, it is offered for sale in New York from the catalogue and will not be available in New York for inspection or delivery. The painting will be released to the purchaser in Mexico in compliance with all local requirements. Prospective buyers may contact Sotheby's representatives in Mexico City and Monterrey for an appointment to view the work.

Mari Carmen de Valenzuela, Mexico City 
Private Collection, Mexico 
Acquired from the above by the present owner 
Elisa García Barragán, José Agustín Arrieta, Lumbre de lo cotidiano, Mexico City, 1998, no. 49, p. 25, illustrated in color 

This is one of the most accomplished and vibrant works by Agustín Arrieta (1803-1874) to come to auction in nearly a decade. A native of Tlaxcala, Arrieta emerged from the local European-style art academy in Puebla, a small city not far from Mexico City, and rose to be one of the most outstanding painters of his day outside of the Mexican capital. Celebrated for his mastery across several genres, Arrieta was familiar with European old master paintings by such artists as Diego Velázquez and Bartolomé Esteban Murillo through prints, which he sometimes cited visually in his own religious compositions and portraits. However, he is most known today for his contributions to still life and the specific tradition of costumbrista painting (akin to genre painting but with a proto-anthropological focus on the mixture of cultures and races) that emerged in Mexico in the late colonial period.  

Arrieta's still lifes are, alongside his costumbrista paintings, among his most desirable compositions. These still lifes bear a close relationship to the European tradition and could more strictly speaking be referred to as "Dining Tables," as they have a strong affiliation with Flemish vanitas, which were very much in demand by mid century Poblano (Pueblan) collectors and important patrons of Arrieta himself. While they are neither painted in the Spanish manner nor in the inanimate nature of the Italian tradition, these works do allude to the dessert tables and banquets of Northern painters like Frans Snyders (1579-1657). These pictures were largely executed for a local audience of criollo and Spanish aristocrats in New Spain; they celebrate the bounty and diversity of the region and generally feature a mixture of Mexican fine silver, copper and ceramics—highlighting both the skill of local artisans and the wealth of the colony—and indigenous fruits, vegetables, and fauna, such as the vibrant macaw featured here.

Originally painted in sets of 2, 4, 6, 8 and even 12, only one painting in each group was signed. These series correlated to different seasons, religious festivals, harvesting cycles, as well as the values and customs of the region of Puebla-Tlaxcala. By the year 1853, Arrieta had excelled in his craft, painting dining tables with virtuosic technique, notably in the handling of different textures, nuanced chromatic choices, and carefully calibrated of scale and proportion that united natural and man-made materials, from fruits, meats, breads, and sweets to barrels, cups, trays, and plates all of which shared the same compositional space. This extraordinary example is especially notable for the complexity of the composition and the prismatic range of the palette, both qualities prized in Arrieta's best work.