This is an oil on canvas by Fidelio Ponce de Leon, one of the most important Cuban painters of the 20th century. He was part of a group of Cuban artists known as the Vanguardia, an avant-garde movement which emerged in Havana and was seminal to the evolution of modern Cuban art. Fidelio Ponce de Leon, also known as Ponce, was a pioneer in this first generation of modern Cuban artists.
He was born Alfredo Fuentes Pons, and his art reflected his own life of poverty. He never left Cuba, so never felt the influence of European art. His paintings contained tragic images of poverty, sickness, and isolation. He used a heavy impasto, his canvases were filled with elongated subjects, and his choice of colors was limited too - not the brilliant colors of other artists, but a pale, almost monochromatic palette of ochres and olive green.
Ponce emphasized themes like change, transformation, and death, and his paintings evoke moody contemplation and a sense of sadness and grief. He endured alcoholism and suffered tuberculosis near the end of his life, and these themes had an enduring impact on Cuban art.
The painting here was purchased by a local artist from Sarasota who visited Cuba and bought the painting directly from Ponce. When the local artist died, the painting was bequeathed to the current owner and consignor of the painting.
The painting is an oil on canvas and has some of that heavy impasto Ponce was known for. The figures are shadowy and done in ochres and olive green, and the painting is in great condition. It is signed "Ponce" in the lower right and dated "1947" below the signature. The overall size is 30 1/8 x 30 in. wide, and the sight size is 22 7/8 x 22 7/8 in. wide.
The painting also comes with a rare photograph of Ponce taken in Havana by Loring Hayden in 1947. It shows how thin and impoverished Ponce looked. He died two years later.
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