Letters from Fernando Zóbel to Eduardo Chillida

Letter from Fernando Zóbel of 17 September 1964 in which he expresses his satisfaction with their meeting in Cuenca and gives more detail on the content of the commission:


Dear Eduardo,

The memory of your visit to Cuenca becomes more pleasing by the day. It goes without saying that I very much wanted to meet you, and now I’ve managed it, in such congenial circumstances, I’m even keener to know you and your work better.

I want to talk to you about your sculpture for our museum in Cuenca. It seems frivolous on my part to leave such an important matter summed up in the kind of words that might have gone with the wind. For your peace of mind and mine too I want to clarify my ideas on the subject in writing.

You already know the location. The theme, size and look of the work I leave entirely in your hands. I would simply venture to suggest that it might be of wood, be- cause you work that material like nobody has worked it in centuries, and because in this way it will contrast more dramatically with the other sculptures in the museum, which are all in metal. However, I repeat that I leave the decision in your hands.

Concerning the price, I know we’ll have to pursue this with your gallery. This seems only right and I would only ask you to serve as an intermediary for me

because I don’t have any dealings with your gallery. Moreover, I think I have a duty to explain my constraints to you.

After much calculation I’ve arrived at the conclusion that I can’t offer you more than 250,000 pesetas for your work. I would like to offer you ten times that but it’s absurd to pretend I can. The value of your work has no limits; the prices I know only too well, and I also know the limits of my wallet. I don’t want to find myself in the disagreeable situation of commissioning something from you that I can’t then pay for. I would ask you, therefore, to let me have what you think is fitting for the above price. I don’t expect anything huge. The size you’ll resolve yourself. What I hope [to have] is a worthy Chillida, whatever the size. The money I’m offering you isn’t much, knowing what you usually command. For me, notwithstanding the reputation I might have in this neck of the woods, it represents a small fortune and the utmost individual effort I’m making for the museum. I beg you to keep all this in strict confidence. I hope this letter doesn’t offend you. One does what one can. With it goes the admiration and a big hug from your friend,

Fernando Zóbel


Published in Zóbel-Chillida. Criscrossing paths Barcelona, 2019. Mayoral p.46-47

Letter from Fernando Zóbel of 21 July 1965 in which he refers to his immediate donation of the latter’s drawing Sin títu- lo (Untitled) (1965) to the Fogg Museum, Cambridge, Massachusetts:


Dear Eduardo,

What a great time I had with you in San Sebastián! And what great food you fed me (an unforgettable piece of hake)!

I’m crazy about our Abesti Gogorra. It has something like fourteen different driving speeds, if you get me.

I’m sending you the cheque for the two drawings.
In case you want to make a note in the list of museums that have your work, one is destined for the Fogg Art Museum, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts (USA). I’d like to coincide with you sometime in the States and show you that extraordinary little museum in which I’ve think I learnt almost everything I know.

Regards to all your family. A big and grateful hug from your great friend,



Published in Zóbel-Chillida. Criscrossing paths Barcelona, 2019. Mayoral p.50

Letter from Fernando Zóbel of 20 May 1979 in which he refers to a request on the part of Chillida for a loan of the Museo de Arte Abstracto sculpture for his retrospective at the Carnegie Institute in Pittsburgh, 26 October 1979 – 6 January 1980:


Dear Eduardo:

Thanks a million for your drawing. You know how much I like your drawings and this very personal one makes me especially happy.

The statue is at your disposal. We’d like the alabaster to be rather big, if possible, because we’d like to have it in the museum entrance, and if it’s small it won’t be magnificent enough.

Anyway, you understand these things as well as I do, and you don’t have to mention them.

I really like Gonzalo’s exhibition at Theo.

Big hugs to Pili and the boys.


P.S. Let us know well in advance when you’re going to need Abesti Gogorra.


Published in Zóbel-Chillida. Criscrossing paths Barcelona, 2019. Mayoral p.53