Beltran Masses, Federico

Guira de la Melena, Cuba 1885 - Barcelona 1949
Biography & List of works



Medium: Oil on canvas

Size: 97 x 106 cm

Signed: lower right: F. Beltran Masses


Estate of the artist; his wife Sra. Irene Narezo de Beltran; her heirs, by descent, Barcelona; Private collection, Los Angeles. 


Federico Beltran Masses – Enigma y sensualidad, Edición Fundación Caja Castellón-Bancaja, 2007; Federico Beltran Masses: un pintor en la corte de Hollywood, Museu Diocesà, Barcelona, 2011, ills., p.120.


Possibly Exposition d’œuvres F. Beltran Masses, Chez Trotti, Paris, 21 May – 14 June, 1931, no. 16; Possibly Paintings by Federico Beltran Masses, New Burlington galleries, London, 1938, no. 72; Federico Beltran Masses, Blue Nights and Libertine Legends, Stair Sainty Gallery, London, Oct-Nov 2012, ills., no. 16, pp.120-123. 

Beltran’s second painting set in an imagined tropical forest contrasts dramatically with the earlier painting from 1925. While the latter portrays a nude of clearly European heritage, the female protagonists here seem to be of Hispano-Caribbean heritage and exhibit an obvious sensuality which is absent in the 1925 painting. The ‘orgy of opulent fruit above tall ephemera palms which shoot out like rockets’[1] seen here is pure fantasy. Pushing aside a curtain of tropical foliage, one blood red lipped nude gazes down at another, who lies horizontal with an ecstatic expression on her face. Though one of her breasts is exposed, a mass of bananas, mango, guava and topical fruit cover her, perhaps a loose reference to Josephine Baker who since 1925 had enjoyed an astonishingly successful career in Paris. An art critic in 1920 claimed that ‘Beltran paints his canvases like a director organising a gala spectacle[2] and the image painted here is as sexually charged as any of Baker’s burlesques shows.


[1] Federico Garcia Sanchiz, ‘Federico Beltran Le Divin’ as found in F. Paillart, Sur l’œuvre de Beltran Massés, Paris, 1924, p. 19, translation our own.

[2]L’Arte mondiale alla Esposizione di Venezia MCMXX, Francesco Sapori, Istituto Italiano d’Arti Grafiche, Bergamo, 1920, p. 47.