The Lady of Elche through the eyes of Manolo Valdés

Valdes’ vision of the iconic Iberian sculpture

Since its discovery on 4 August 1897 in an orchard in La Alcudia, the image of the bust of the Lady of Elche has exerted an enormous fascination and influence that endures to this day. An example of this is the iconic “Iberian Lady” by Manolo Valdés, which will be auctioned at Setdart. In this work, the artist creates an authentic masterpiece that transports us to the deepest roots of our cultural identity, inspired by the ancient Iberian sculpture of the Lady of Elche, dated between 500 and 300 BC. In fact, works such as this demonstrate a profound knowledge of the history of art and absolute admiration for its great masters, with whom Valdés has forged one of the most successful careers on the international contemporary art scene.

Proof of the prestige achieved by the Valencian-born artist can be found in the 18-meter monumental sculpture composed of 22,000 cobalt blue ceramic heads that presides over the Avenida de las Cortes Valencianas in his hometown. Inaugurated in 2007 thanks to a patronage agreement signed by the Valencia City Council, Manolo Valdés and the promoters Lladró and Vallehermoso, this work has become a true symbol, not only of the city, but also of our cultural roots.

"Dama Ibérica" de Manolo Valdés- 2007

The sculpture that Setdart presents is the reduced scale model that Valdés made in 2003. Through it we can appreciate how the artist carries out an apotheosic exercise of reinterpretation and recontextualization of the history of art itself, rescuing and taking from it those aspects he considers most appropriate. Each element of the sculpture, made with a meticulous assembly technique, becomes an excellent testimony to Valdés’ mastery of materials and his ability to create forms that transcend convention. In a perfect fusion of tradition and modernity, Valdés interweaves elements of ancient statuary with a contemporary vision that challenges and redefines the limits of art.

Lote 35316783

The formal elements of Iberian sculpture, characterized by the complex headdress profusely ornamented on both sides of the woman’s face, are synthesized in Valdés’ work with surprising simplicity and geometric symmetry. This synthesis shows a modern aesthetic conception that, at the same time, maintains the elegance and majesty of the original theme. In addition, the glazed ceramic reflects and refracts light, capturing the chromatic changes that occur throughout the day and creating a hypnotic effect that varies according to the perspective of the observer.

Detalle del lote 35316783
Detalle del lote 35316783

The work that acts as a bridge between our past and present is, therefore, a magnificent investment for collectors, not only for its undoubted artistic value, but also for the tangible connection it establishes with Spain’s cultural heritage. Undoubtedly, whoever adds ‘La dama ibérica’ to their collection will acquire a piece that is absolutely representative of the legacy of one of the most influential and prestigious artists on the current art scene.