Art/Style/Travel Diaries

Salcedo event reveals close friendships—including a sculpture of Luna by his Spanish friend

Auction highlights Magsaysay-Ho and the Lomotans, HR Ocampo and the Guevaras, Botong and Gene Cabrera

Bust of Juan Luna y Novicio by Mariano Benlliure, molded in Rome in 1884, bronze cast ca. 1920

Long-held heirlooms and prized collections that speak of legacy and strong bonds of camaraderie and friendship compose the Salcedo Auctions’ The Well-Appointed Life. The September edition of the country’s longest-running prestige auction series consists of over 275 lots with the theme Igniting Passions.

Preview is ongoing Tuesday-Sunday, 9am-6pm. Live and online auction is September 16, 2023, 2 p.m., at Salcedo Auctions, NEX Tower, 6786 Ayala Avenue, Makati.

The Important Philippine Art section boasts rare works by Filipino masters and pioneering modernists, such as Anita Magsaysay-Ho, and National Artists H.R. Ocampo, Jose Joya, Arturo Luz, BenCab, and Ang KiuKok.

An incredibly moving sculpture of Juan Luna y Novicio is also up for bid, one of only two acknowledged works by the Spanish sculptor Mariano Benlliure. The Connoisseur Collection is a must-see room of covetable antique furniture from the 19th century, all made by master artisans.

Untitled (Women with Baskets), oil on canvas, Anita Magsaysay-Ho, dated 1976

All the lots are exemplary samples of Philippine art and artisanal craft, with indisputable provenances. Anita Magsaysay-Ho’s untitled oil painting of women with baskets, for example, was the artist’s gift to Cesar Jacinto Lomotan, the former  Deputy Governor of the Central Bank of the Philippines, who was Magsaysay-Ho’s neighbor in Wack Wack village in Mandaluyong. For decades, the painting was displayed in the Lomotan home that the artist had specifically chosen for her work.

Sterling Magsaysay-Ho provenance : Former Central Bank Deputy Governor Cesar Jacinto Lomotan and Mrs. Lomotan

 

The Lomotan family with their prized 1976 Magsaysay-Ho

H.R. Ocampo’s untitled oil on canvas from 1956 comes from the collection of pioneering industrialist Domingo M. Guevara, the visionary behind the successful home-grown brand, Radiowealth, and who introduced the ‘Sakbayan,’ the first Filipino-designed and fabricated vehicle. The painting is of utmost significance, created during Ocampo’s transitional phase as he started the shift to non-representational works. One could say that the brilliant interplay of forms and constellation of colors in this groundbreaking abstract artwork perfectly encapsulates the pioneering spirit of the postwar Filipino industrialist and modernist.

“Ang Aguinaldo,” oil on canvas, Carlos “Botong” Francisco, c.1938

 

Untitled, oil on canvas, H.R. Ocampo, dated 1956.

 

Filipino industrialist Domingo M. Guevara with ads for the brands he pioneered, Sakbayan and Radiowealth.

Similarly, Botong Francisco’s pre-war oil painting, titled Ang Aguinaldo, which predates the artist’s murals, is another rare find at auction, one of less than 50 relatively smaller paintings completed by the artist in his lifetime. Depicting a warrior presenting his pregnant wife to a seated chieftain, the work brilliantly shows the joy of life and the gift of expectation in the pre-colonial community. Acquired from the artist by his friend and fellow artist Gene Cabrera, who Botong worked with at The Graphic magazine in the 1930s, this masterpiece celebrates amity that has withstood the test of time.

“Olympic and Eagle” altar table, balayong wood, 2nd quarter, 19th century, Batangas

A trio of antique furniture from the 19th century exemplifies the grand life of bygone times, starting with the Olympic and Eagle altar table from the family of Rosita Mercado in Lemery, Batangas, whose civic importance is underscored by their home being built just across the town church. Made of dark balayong wood, it could have been made by the province’s Chinese master artisans, who’ve incorporated the distinctive profile of Ming tables with the distinctive features unique to the times, like the interlocking circles (later called the Olympic motif) not found elsewhere in the islands.

Ah Tay Paterno-Villar center table, narra and marble, last quarter, 19th century, Manila

Two elegant tables were crafted out of the famed Binondo tallere of master artisan Ah Tay. A round Renaissance Revival table with marble top comes from esteemed collector Jun Pablo. Made from narra wood, it has flawless features revealing the masterful hands behind the commanding piece, from the signature calabasa or pumpkin motif, to the heavy ring turned cylinder with flutings leading to the monopodium feet.

Bust of Juan Luna y Novicio by Mariano Benlliure, molded in Rome in 1884, bronze cast ca. 1920

The Paterno-Villar marble top center table was once witness to a lavish life in a prominent family’s house, before being purchased by collector architect Chris Montoya. It bears the distinctive elegance of the Ah Tay tallere tradition, from the iconic calabasa motif to the frieze beautifully carved all around with bands of elongated bead-and-reel and rosettes.

There is finally the riveting sculpture that has captivated those who’ve viewed at The Well-Appointed Life preview —a bronze bust of Juan Luna y Novicio, one of just two acknowledged busts of the artist by Spanish sculptor Mariano Benlliure, the other one being a painted plaster version, now part of the UST Museum. It is a remarkable piece that not only displays Benlliure’s mastery of his medium, and captures the complex character of the foremost Philippine master, but also underscores the deep respect and brotherly affection of Benlliure for Luna, who he shared an apartment with during the time they lived in Rome in 1884, and whose relationship continued throughout their lifetimes, and cast indelibly in bronze, endures today.

The Well-Appointed Life, September edition, is supported by RHK Land Corporation. Preview is ongoing Tuesday-Sunday, 9am-6pm. Live and online auction starts at 2PM, Sept. 16, at Salcedo Auctions, NEX Tower, 6786 Ayala Avenue, Makati. View the online catalogue of The Well-Appointed Life at salcedoauctions.com. For  inquiries,  email [email protected] or phone +63 917 825 7449 | +63 917 591 2191 | +63 917 107 5581. Follow @salcedoauctions on Instagram and Facebook.

 

 


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