SALE 0920 LOT 98


Chilean (1936-2011) 


charcoal on paper, signed and dated upper left 

"Claudio Bravo MCMLXXIV" 

17 1⁄8 X 22 5⁄8 inches (sight) 


Catalog Essay | September 17, 2020 | Lot 98

Claudio Bravo’s New York city debut at Staempfli Gallery in 1970 was met with critical acclaim. Bravo had a well established reputation in Madrid working as a society portrait painter. In 1972, after a trip to Morocco, Bravo expanded his repertory painting landscapes, animals, still lifes and human subjects. His work is firmly rooted in art historical traditions especially the Spanish Old Master painters Zurbaran, Cotan and Velazquez.


Bravo was born in Valparaiso, Chile and grew up on his family’s farm in Melipilla. He took some art lessons in school but was largely self-taught. He had his first exhibition at the prestigious Salon 13 in Valparaiso and when he moved to Concepcion he became a portrait painter. 

In 1961, Bravo moved to Spain and continued to paint society portraits including the portrait of Gen. Francisco Franco’s daughter. In 1968, he painted the portraits of Ferdinand and Imelda Marcos in the Philippines and other society elites. He was hugely successful and owned four villas in Morocco and an apartment in Manhattan. 

In the late 60s, he started pursuing his own subjects and painting in a style influenced by Color Field artists including Mark Rothko. He exhibited again at Staempfli in New York in 1972 and 1974, with a broad range of subjects including figurative works. [1] Vivian Sentada was likely included in one of these exhibitions as indicated by the labels on the reverse. The stain-like application of the blue and grey tones, carefully shaded, is undoubtedly influenced by Color Field techniques. 

In a review of Bravo’s Philippine portraits exhibited in 2012, critic Cid Reyes described Bravo’s work after 1968; 

“In succeeding decades, greater fame attended his international shows of classical interpretations of still lifes, human figures, packages, drapery, which were all imbued with the magical Bravo stamp: an almost hallucinatory realism in the Grand Manner, conceived in the classical vein, wrought with extreme elegance of composition, technically faultless, and seemingly haunted by a piercing silence.” [2] 

In 1994 the National Museum of Fine Arts in Santiago, Chile hosted a retrospective exhibition of his work that attracted more than 280,000 visitors. He died in 2011 at his home in Morocco. 


[1] William Grimes, “Claudio Bravo, Chilean Artist, Dies at 74.” in The New York Times, June 12, 2011, ( 

[2] Cid Reyes, “Claudio Bravo’s Philippine portraits come to life at Met,” in Philippine Daily Inquirer, September 17, 2012, ( 

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