South American Art

Fernando Botero and His Remakes of Classic Masterpieces

Zuzanna Stańska, Aniela Rybak 19 April 2022 min Read

I must tell you something in secret – I love Fernando Botero’s works. Many of his works were inspired by classic art. Or maybe “inspiration” is the wrong word here. For me, Botero paints remakes of famous artworks. Just look at these marvelous examples of Fernando Botero’s masterpieces.

There is something really interesting in his paintings. This Colombian figurative artist and sculptor, born in Medellín in 1932, has his signature style, also known as “Boterismo“.

“Boterismo” depicts people and figures in large, exaggerated volumes, which can represent political criticism or humor, depending on the piece. He is considered the most recognized and quoted living artist from Latin America, and his art can be found in highly visible places around the world, such as Park Avenue in New York City and the Champs-Élysées in Paris.

1. La Fornarina after Raphael

Fernando Botero masterpieces La Fornarina, 2009, private collection

Fernando Botero, La Fornarina, 2009, private collection. Plus au nord.

The first of Fernando Botero’s masterpieces I would like to present is La Fornarina. Inspired by one of the most famous female portraits of the Italian Renaissance by Raphael. It is believed that the depicted woman was his lover.

Fernando Botero masterpieces: Raphael, La Fornarina, 1518-1520, Galleria Nazionale d'Arte Antica, Rome, Italy.

Raphael, La Fornarina, 1518-1520, Galleria Nazionale d’Arte Antica, Rome, Italy.

2. La Menina after Velasquez

Fernando Botero masterpieces: Fernando Botero, La Menina, 1982, private collection

Fernando Botero, La Menina, 1982, private collection. WikiArt.

La Menina is a portrait of Infanta Margaret Theresa of Spain. This is inspired by Las Meninas by Diego Velázquez, one of the most mysterious group portraits in art history. You can read all about it here.

Fernando Botero masterpieces: Diego Velázquez, Las Meninas, 1656, Museo del Prado, Madrid, Spain.

Diego Velázquez, Las Meninas, 1656, Museo del Prado, Madrid, Spain.

3. The Arnolfini Portrait after Van Eyck

Fernando Botero masterpieces: The Arnolfini Portrait, 1997, private collection.

Fernando Botero, The Arnolfini Portrait, 1997, private collection. Christie’s.

Next up on our list of Fernando Botero’s masterpieces, we have the Arnolfini Portrait. The decoration of the room is slightly less detailed than in the original version, nevertheless, it contains all the important symbolic items: the mirror, the dog, the shoes, and the oranges.

Fernando Botero masterpieces: Jan van Eyck, Giovanni Arnolfini and His Wife (the Arnolfini Portrait), 1434

Jan van Eyck, Giovanni Arnolfini and His Wife (the Arnolfini Portrait), 1434, The National Gallery, London, UK.

4. Mademoiselle Caroline Rivière after Ingres

Fernando Botero masterpieces: Mademoiselle Caroline Rivière, 1979, private collection

Fernando Botero, Mademoiselle Caroline Rivière, 1979, private collection. Pinterest.

In Botero’s version of Mademoiselle Caroline Rivière, we can fully focus on the portrayed woman, as there is no landscape in the background. She is so chic with her white fur stole and gloves! Definitely a fashion inspiration.

Fernando Botero masterpieces: Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres, Mademoiselle Caroline Rivière

Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres, Mademoiselle Caroline Rivière, 1806, Louvre, Paris, France.

5. Federico da Montefeltro and Battista Sforza after Piero della Francesca

Fernando Botero masterpieces: Federico da Montefeltro (left), Battista Sforza (right), 1998, private collection.

Fernando Botero, Federico da Montefeltro (left), Battista Sforza (right), 1998, private collection. Pinterest.

This is a double masterpiece. Inspired by a diptych by an Italian master Piero della Francesca, but have you noticed something different? Botero decided to place Battista Sforza on the right side and Federico da Montefeltro on the left side of the diptych, contrary to Francesca. I wonder what inspired this shift.

Fernando Botero masterpieces: Piero della Francesca, Diptych of Federico da Montefeltro and Battista Sforza

Piero della Francesca, Diptych of Federico da Montefeltro and Battista Sforza, 1465, Uffizi Gallery, Florence, Italy.

7. Honeysuckle Bower after Peter Paul Rubens

Fernando Botero masterpieces: Fernando Botero, Honeysuckle Bower, 1965, private collection

Fernando Botero, Honeysuckle Bower, 1965, private collection. All Painters.

Rubens was one of the most successful artists of his time. His workshop hired many artists as the artworks were in high demand, everyone wanted to have a Rubens at home. In this portrait, he is depicted with his first wife Isabella Brant who unfortunately died at the age of 34 after contracting the plague. In this portrait, the pair sits in the bower of honeysuckle, a traditional symbol of love.

Fernando Botero masterpieces: Peter Paul Rubens, Honeysuckle Bower, c. 1609, Alte Pinakothek, Munich, Germany.

Peter Paul Rubens, Honeysuckle Bower, c. 1609, Alte Pinakothek, Munich, Germany.

8. Mona Lisa after Leonardo da Vinci

Mona Lisa, 1978, Botero Museum, Bogotá, Colombia.

Fernando Botero, Mona Lisa, 1978, Botero Museum, Bogotá, Colombia.

Last on our list, but certainly not least, is Botero’s Mona Lisa. His own version of the most famous portrait in the world. I have a question for you, and please be honest, which Gioconda do you prefer?

Fernando Botero masterpieces: Leonardo da Vinci, Mona Lisa, 1503, Louvre, Paris, France.

Leonardo da Vinci, Mona Lisa, 1503, Louvre, Paris, France.

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