February 22, 2020 01:00 PM EST Caza Sikes


The Lime Porters by Ricardo Martinez de Hoyos (Mexican, 1918-2009)

 Ricardo Martínez De Hoyos (1918-2009)

Cargadores de Cal, 1953

Oil on canvas

148 x 90 cm (58.3 x 35.4 in.)


This work has been registered with Fundación Ricardo Martínez (FRM000769). We wish to thank the foundation for their gracious assistance in the provenance research process.



Galería de Arte Mexicano

Private collection, New Orleans (1950s)

Thence by descent



Mexico City, Galería de Arte Mexicano, Óleos de Ricardo Martínez, April 21 – May 22, 1954.



J. Fernandez, Catálogo de las exposiciones de arte en 1954, Anales Del Instituto De Investigaciones Esteticas, 1955, p. 22.


Lot Essay

An important and transformative oil painting by Mexican master Ricardo Martínez de Hoyos. Cargadores de Cal (The Lime Porters) bears crimson-brown ground layered in beige and gray pigments; a common characteristic for mid-century oil paintings by the artist. Depicted are three shrouded figures engaged in the manual transport of quicklime or limestone destined for kilning. Martínez uses a linear, almost geometric, approach to the porter’s garment, terminating in a shrouded expression and featureless eyes. Contrasting color has been thoughtfully used to create depth, atmosphere, and movement in each figure.


In 1943 Martínez moved his studio from the family home to Mexico City’s Anzures neighborhood. During this time neighboring artist Federico Cantú had become a friend and artistic mentor to Martínez. Cantú introduces him to Galeria de Arte Mexicano (GAM) the same year. The gallery, then under direction of Inés Amor, would promote Martínez in eleven solo exhibitions spanning years 1944 – 1964. For the 1954 exhibition, titled “Óleos de Ricardo Martínez”, Galeria de Arte Mexicano presented twenty oil paintings.[1] Amidst Cargadores de Cal were a series of exemplary landscapes, portrayals of musicians, and scenes of local laborers.[2] In the mid-1960s, Martínez distanced himself from Mexico’s private art galleries, yet continued to exhibit his work within the country and abroad.[3], [4]


Ricardo Martinez, largely a self-taught artist, drew inspiration from pre-Hispanic art forms. He was a consummate collector of artifacts and is known to have assembled over three-hundred Mesoamerican (primarily Olmec) pieces adorning his Etna Street studio.[5] The Lime Porters embodies the very beginning of Martínez’s costumbrismo phase: a movement portraying the local life of indigenous peoples, so often preoccupied by physical work or social activity. Earlier works by the artist explored the metaphysical, surreal, and sometimes ideological themes popularized by Mexican muralist contemporaries (e.g.  José Clemente Orozco[6]). During the transitional period of the early 1950s, Martínez began to place great importance on the less literal, more stylized, character forms. He would expand the size of the canvas and bring his monumental figures to the foreground. We can best cite the emergence of this new style in Cargadores de Cal (1953) and again in Fumador en Rojo (1953).[7] Martínez continued to further develop his plástico[8] manifestations in the decades to come. In retrospective exhibition, the Museo de la Ciudad de México would define later periods by the “closeness to more platonic or archetypal human figures, in which the features and brushstrokes show that they are human figures, but there is no longer the reflection of a specific human race or its social status; it impacts only the human presence, primal”.[9]



[1] R. Bonifaz Nuño, Ricardo Martínez, Instituto Nacional de Bellas Artes, 1965

[2] See Atmósferas: Ricardo Martínez. P. 225; “Musicos nocturnos, 1954”

[3] "Cronología". Mexico City: Ricardo Martínez Foundation. Accessed 2020.

[4] J. Fernandez, Catálogo de las exposiciones de arte en 1954, Anales Del Instituto De Investigaciones Esteticas.

[5] C. Paul (June 14, 2011). "Abrirán en 2012 el Centro Cultural Ricardo Martínez en la capital". Mexico City: La Jornada. p. 4.

[6] José Clemente Orozco (Mexican, 1883-1949)

[7] Recordando a Ricardo Martínez en su Centenario. Fundación Ricardo Martínez de Hoyos y Canal 22. (November 9, 2018). Accessed 2020.

[8] Reference to “artes plásticas”, an encompassing term for Latin visual art.

[9] M. Marcin in "Abrirán en 2012 el Centro Cultural Ricardo Martínez en la capital". Mexico City: La Jornada. p. 4.; author's translation

Estimate: $80,000 - $120,000


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