Salomé by Federico Beltrán-Masses
Salomé by Federico Beltrán-Masses Salomé by Federico Beltrán-Masses Salomé by Federico Beltrán-Masses Salomé by Federico Beltrán-Masses Salomé by Federico Beltrán-Masses
Salomé by Federico Beltrán-Masses

Salomé by Federico Beltrán-Masses

  • Monumental and highly important, this oil on canvas is by Cuban-Spanish painter Beltrán-Masses
  • Entitled Salomé, the dramatic work represents the Spanish legend’s artistic heights
  • Causing scandal in 1929, the work captures the New Testament temptress in an emotional pose
  • Today, the sensuous portrait is considered one of the artist’s finest compositions
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Item No. 30-7544
$398,500
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description
Federico Beltrán-Masses
1885-1949 | Spanish

Salomé

Oil on canvas
Signed F. Beltrán-Masses (lower right)

“Vibrant, sensuous, and mysterious, the paintings of Beltrán-Masses occupy a unique place in modern art.”
-Marquerite Tjader, International Studio, 1925

Simultaneously traditional and ultra-modern, both classically inspired and romantically inclined, the oeuvre of Cuban-Spanish painter Federico Beltrán-Masses defies classification. Highly sought after in his day as a master portraitist, Beltrán-Masses, and his remarkable work has enjoyed a revival of interest in recent years, with retrospectives dedicated to his career held in Barcelona in 2011, and Paris and London in 2012. This work, entitled Salomé, represents the artistic legend’s artistic heights, displaying the uniquely theatrical and bold style that permeates his distinctive oeuvre. A true masterpiece that boasts this level of importance is rarely seen on the market, making this a rare opportunity to acquire the masterwork of this famed Spanish painter.

Much of the artist’s success surrounds the present work – and the scandal that it caused. Massive in size and daring in subject matter, it earns the distinction of being among Beltrán-Masses’ most important works, having so scandalized London in 1929 that it propelled the artist to international superstar status. The artist had first shown the work nine years earlier at the XII Venice Biennale, where it had been praised and the artist celebrated for his dramatic achievement. Yet, the overt eroticism of the piece shocked a British audience, and it was temporarily removed from public exhibition at London's New Burlington Galleries by Beltrán-Masses himself to silence his critic.

Labeled offensive and immoral, the portrait of the beautiful Salomé sparked a controversy in the art world that immediately catapulted the talented artist - and his decision to remove the work - into the spotlight. Public interest in the scandal, combined with the Royal Academy's official appeal, convinced Beltrán-Masses to return the work to the exhibition, where it attracted 17,317 paying visitors in the space of just three weeks.

Aside from the controversy it caused, Beltrán-Masses’ infamous Salomé displays a lyrical drama that further sets it apart from the rest of his impressive oeuvre. While his other canvases employ dark shadows and dark evening light to enhance the dramatic atmosphere, in Salomé Beltrán-Masses turns to light to heighten the theatrical charge of the scene. Raking light falls across Salomé's body, illuminating her pale thighs and torso against his signature deep blue sky. Her tortured pose illustrates her emotional response as she is presented with the decapitated head of John the Baptist on a silver plate - filled simultaneously with horror and ecstasy, she physically recoils away from the man her mother instructed her to condemn.

Though Salomé is not named in the New Testament, she has appeared time and time again in art and literature over the centuries, as both an innocent and a seductress. Her mother, Herodias, resented John the Baptist, who denounced her marriage to King Herod as unlawful. At one evening meal, Salomé danced for King Herod and his guests. He was so entranced by her, that he swore to give her whatever she asked of him. At her mother's request, she demanded the head of John the Baptist on a platter. Beltrán-Masses portrays her here not only as a beautiful seductress but also a woman in agony over her part in the death of the beloved disciple.

According to the artist's wife, the work was Beltrán-Masses’ favorite of all his oeuvre, and he refused to sell it during his lifetime. While he painted the portraits of kings, princes, princesses, Hollywood stars and society's elite, his bold, ultra-modern style led him to prefer beautiful women who defied convention. Simultaneously powerful and languidly sensual, Salomé proved the perfect subject for this renowned master. Exhibiting the Spanish influence and “Beltran Blue” palette for which the artist is renowned, this masterpiece of Spanish art is truly a rarity on the market today.

Born in Cuba and raised in Barcelona, Beltrán-Masses’ Spanish roots permeate deeply throughout his work. He learned his craft under the tutelage of the great Spanish painter Joaquín Sorolla y Bastida at the Barcelona Academy of Fine Arts and quickly earned the support of the cultural elite in Spain, France, England, and, eventually, the United States. In 1920, an entire pavilion was devoted to his work, which received much critical acclaim. The artist’s unique figural style set him apart from his contemporaries, whose work was by then firmly entrenched into the stark abstract planes of Cubism. He soon emerged as the leading portraitist of society’s elite, a reputation that earned him the friendship of Rudolph Valentino and took him all the way to Hollywood in 1925. Valentino introduced the artist to a crowd of Hollywood elite who soon become both sitters and patrons, including Douglas Fairbanks, Marion Davies, Pola Negri and Joan Crawford.

Circa 1918

Canvas: 55 1/2" high x 65" wide
Frame: 65 1/2" high x 75 1/4" wide

Exhibited:
XII Esposizione Internazionale d’Arte della città di Venezia, Venice, 1920, Room 5, no. 7
Cercle Interallié, Paris, November – December 1921
Stendhal Galleries, The Ambassador Hotel, Los Angeles, 1925, no. 8
Federico Beltran Masses, New Burlington Galleries, under the patronage of His Majesty the King of Spain, London, June – July, 1929
L’Exposition des Illustrations du Triomphe de la mort de Gabriel D’Annunzio et des œuvres de Fréderic Beltran Masses, Galerie Javal et Bourdeaux, Paris, May, 1929
Exposition d’œuvres F. Beltran Masses, Chez Trotti, Paris, May – June, 1931
Federico Beltran Masses, Torreón de Lozoya, Caja Segovia, 2008
Galerie Alain Blondel, Paris, 2012
Federico Beltran Masses: Blue Nights and Libertine Legends, Stair Sainty Gallery, London, October - November, 2012, no. 5
Vice & Virtue: An Exhibition of Sex, Saints and Sin, M.S. Rau Antiques Gallery, New Orleans, April - June 2018

References:
Catalogo della XIIa Esposizione Internationale d’Arte della Città di Venezia MCMXX, Roma-Milan-Venezia, 1920, p. 22, no. 7 (illustrated)
La Dodicesima Esposizione di Venezia MCMXX, Bergamo, 1920, by F. Sapori, p. 202
Federico Beltran Masses, Estrella, 1920, no. 41 (illustrated)
"La Vie Artistique", Sur l’oeuvre de Federico Beltran Masses, 1924, by A. Alexander, p. 7
"L’Art", Sur l’oeuvre de Federico Beltran Masses, Vizzavona, 1921, by C. Mauclair
"Beltran et la Pienture Espagnole Contemporaine", L’oeuvre de Federico Beltran Masses, Vizzavona, 1921, by L. Vauxcelles (illustrated)
"Artistes Espagnols A Paris", Sur l’oeuvre de Federico Beltran Masses, Paris, 1924, by M. Alarcon, p. 6
"Paris acclame un nouveau maitre", Sur l’oeuvre de Federico Beltran Masses, Paris, 1924, by G. Teall, p. 20
"The Art of Federico Beltran Masses", Apollo, The Apollo Press Limited, 1929, by P.G. Konody, no. 54
Federico Beltran Masses: un pintor en la corte de Hollywood, Museu Diocesà, Barcelona, 2011, p. 118 (illstrated)
Federico Beltran Masses: Castizo cosmopolita, Real Academia de Bellas Artes de San Fernando, Madrid, 2012, p. 85 (illstrated)
Federico Beltran Masses, Torreón de Lozoya, Caja Segovia, 2008, p. 61 (illustrated)
Federico Beltran Masses: Blue Nights and Libertine Legends, Stair Sainty Gallery, London, 2012, pp. 58-69, no. 5 (illustrated)

Provenance:
The artist
by descent to his wife, Sra. Irene Narezo de Beltran, 1949
by descent to her heirs, Barcelona
Private collection, Los Angeles
Private collection, London
M.S. Rau Antiques, New Orleans, 2018
specifications
Artist: Beltrán-Masses, Federico
Framed:75 1/4"W x 65 1/2"H
Unframed:65"W x 55 1/2"H
Period: 1816-1918
Origin:Other Europe
Subject:Genre
Width:75 1/4 Inches
Height:65 1/2 Inches
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