Kahlo portrait, Botero works to be sold at auction

Thu Apr 28, 2011 8:17am EDT
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By Walker Simon

NEW YORK (Reuters Life!) - A locket-size self-portrait by Mexican artist Frida Kahlo and a historical sweep of works by Fernando Botero will be sold next month at Sotheby's auction of Latin American Masterpieces.

Sotheby's said "Autorretrato en Miniatura," or self-portrait in miniature, which sold for $225,750 in 2000, could fetch up to $1.2 million.

It is Kahlo's smallest work, measuring just 2 inches by 1-5/8 inches, the auction house said. In the oval portrait, she appears youthful and serene and wears chandelier-like earrings that emit a muted sparkle.

"This is one of the sexiest Kahlos I've ever seen. She is sending it to her lover, so she is presenting her best face forward," said Sotheby's Latin American head Carmen Melian.

"Instead of looking straight on to you as she does in a lot of paintings, she looks to the side," Melian added. "In some of the other (paintings with) sideways glances her eyes are kind of dead but here these are coquettish."

Kahlo portrays herself as glamorous, unlike other better-known works showing her in tears or spilling blood, an allusion to lifelong suffering from a teenage accident which broke her spine and pelvis.

Using a pseudonym, Kahlo signed the portrait with love to Jose Bartoli, a Catalan artist with whom she began an affair in the mid-1940s. The affair continued for years before her death in 1954 at age 47.

Sotheby's said the auction record for a Kahlo work is $5.61 million for "Roots," an oil on metal sold at Sotheby's in May 2005.   Continued...

<p>A locket-size self-portrait by Mexican artist Frida Kahlo and is pictured in this undated photograph released April 27, 2011. REUTERS/Sothebys/Handout</p>