Art/Style/Travel Diaries

From Murano glass to Charlie Co art: The Maurice Arcache collection

Possessions acquired through the decades by Manila's 'dahling palangga' are now on view

Maurice Arcache
Manila’s ‘dahrling palangga’ (Photo courtesy of Maurice Arcache’s family)

Maurice Arcache was a sybarite, an influential  socialite who partied with  nobility, high society revelers, and beautiful syncophants. He made a career out of social status, and enhanced his image as a social chronicler by leveraging media to further build his name and establish a long-standing relationship with the press.

A glamorous figure in a number of ways, he was the ground zero of the Manila’s social scene. He held this position for decades and through three generations of Manila’s high-born, slowing down only when the betrayals of health and age nudged him into retirement. He was truly an original, of the breed raised in a manner of proper social graces, born to privilege in a house awash with antiques and objects of fine art. This was his starting point, and it shaped the way he looked at the world.

‘Anita Magsaysay-Ho: In Praise of Women’ by Alfredo C. Roces, signed by the artist (Est. P10,000–11,000)

Everybody knew this of him.

So perhaps it is the mystery, the enigma of the man who called everyone “Dahling,” that picks your curiosity as his collection now opens a portal into public discourse and scrutiny.

The Maurice Arcache  Collection is driven by a vision that has less to do with hunting and more to do with gathering. Proclivities, impulses, idiosyncracies informed his collecting. It was intuitive and always about what appealed to him.

Maurice Arcache in his younger years (Photo courtesy of Maurice Arcache’s family)

It was an idiomatic and temporal collection.

The eclectic mix includes Murano glass pieces; Bohemian cut glass crystal; glazed ceramic Chinese tradeware; the ivory head of a Philippine santo; a wooden San Antonio; a small tapestry of Our Lady of Guadalupe; porcelain designer ashtrays: Cartier, Hermès, Piaget, Escada;  paintings and prints by BenCab, Charlie Co, Pandy Aviado, SYM, Popo San Pascual, Mideo Cruz, and Ivan Acuna; and antique furniture pieces.

Ashtrays by Cartier (left) and Hermes (right)

Charlie Co, (left) ‘Galloping on the Beach,’ (right) ‘Looking Out the Carnival Window,’ 2013, pastel on paper (P16,000–18,000)

Popo San Pascual, untitled and undated works, oil on panel (Est. P180,000–P200,000 each)

Mideo Cruz, “Lion, 2011, oil on canvas (Est. P40,000–45,000)

Noteworthy and remarkable are the Murano glass pieces in various shapes and sizes, each fragile piece with a story behind it. The intricately cut Bohemian crystal , still one of Europe’s most distinctive luxury products, and the Baccarat decorative glassware, take on a life of their own, privy to many secrets, like their owner.

(Left) An early 20th century Japanese display cabinet (est. P25,000–30,000); a 19th century Qing dynasty Khalok brown glazed jar (est. P15,000–16,000)

From another angle, the validation of Maurice’s eye can be found in the way he selected paintings by unknown artists. Somehow the works almost convince you that they are much better than you imagined. They may not have blown up in the mainstream like their colleagues who enjoy massive fame, but they hold their own in terms of the way their unbridled approaches expressed their ideas.

Clearly, Maurice had an eye for exploring different kinds of artistic expression. The coffee table art books have become collectibles over the years and include some of the following titles: Juan Luna Drawings; Anita Magsaysay Ho: In praise of Women; Felix Resurreccion Hidalgo and the Generation of 1872; Parallel Texts : Federico Aguilar Alcuaz; Triumph and Tragedy: The Life and Works of Felix Pardo de Tavera;  Portrait of an Artist: Betsy Westendorp; and Homage: Jaime Zobel.

A mix of high and low, the precious and the ordinary, the sacred and the profane, these possessions define the person: the ebullient original, Maurice Arcache.

Salcedo Auctions invites you to go through the artistry and diversity of this collection where a range of fine art and obscure objets d’art will be showcased.

Sofronio Ylanan Mendoza (SYM), untitled, 1984, oil on panel (est. P4,000–4,500)

Versace by Rosenthal ceramic canape dishes (P3,000–4,000)

 gavel&block’s art+design “the estate sale”  is supported by exclusive bank partner HSBC. Preview starts October 10, Tuesday and runs until October 14, Saturday, 9 am–6 pm. For  inquiries,  email [email protected] or call +63 917 825 7449 | +63 917 591 2191 | +63 917 107 5581. For updates, follow @galvelandblock on Instagram and Facebook.

About author

Articles

A former magazine editor, she writes about arts and culture, both as journalist and as friend to many of the country’s foremost artists, designers and the culturati.

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