León auction celebrates PH independence’s 125th year 2
Details of Vicente Manansala's Pounding Rice and Anita Magsaysay-Ho's Women with Flowers. Images courtesy of Leon Gallery

León auction celebrates PH independence’s 125th year with great Filipino art from noted collectors

Also in the remarkable lineup are works and mementos connected to Jose Rizal who is marking his birthday this month
Adrian Maranan | May 28 2023

Leon Gallery welcomes the 125th anniversary of the country's declaration of independence by unveiling and offering the finest in Philippine art in The Spectacular Mid-Year Auction, happening this June 17, 2023, Saturday, at 2 PM. 

"Milestones are always a cause for celebration—and none more so than the 125th year of our nation's birth as we mark a momentous, glorious 12th of June this 2023," says Leon Gallery Director Jaime Ponce de Leon. “In this year's Spectacular Mid-Year Auction, we have sought to gather the very best of Filipino art to commemorate this watershed moment."

Emmanuel Garibay's Bagumbayan
Lot 81 Bagumbayan by Emmanuel Garibay. Signed and dated 2010 (lower right). Acrylic on handmade paper. 23 1/4" x 18 1/2" (59 cm x 47 cm)

The highlight of this sale is master Vicente Manansala's Pounding Rice (1973), a consummate exemplar of his "Transparent Cubism." The work is from the collection of Doña Hideliza "Delly" Tambunting-Ongsiako, a philanthropist who supported various religious organizations and a passionate collector of the arts. She and her connoisseur group of friends—Judy Araneta-Roxas, Bessie Bautista-Legarda, and Aurora Silayan Go—became good friends with Manansala whom they met in the 1970s. They started collecting his paintings from then on. It was also Manansala who advised them to collect works by other equally renowned artists, such as Ang Kiukok, Anita Magsaysay-Ho, H.R. Ocampo, and Cesar Legaspi. Doña Delly was among the first founders of the "Friends of Manansala."

Emmanuel Garibay's Dakila
Lot 82 Dakila by Emmanuel Garibay. Signed and dated 2012 (lower right). Oil on canvas. 48" x 48" (122 cm x 122 cm)

Doña Delly was the fourth child of Don Antonio Tambunting, who inherited the Casa Agencia de Tambunting, and Doña Aurora "Nena" Paraiso, also a philanthropist who funded the construction of a number of churches.

Sucesos de las Islas Filipinas
LOT 144 Sucesos de las Islas Filipinas by Antonio de Morga, annotated by José Rizal. Libreria de Garnier Hermanos, Paris, 1890. First Edition

Part of the proceeds from the sale of this work will benefit Doña Delly's supported organizations: Leaven of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, Oblate Apostle of the Two Hearts, and Alliance of the Holy Family International.

Lot 139 Calvario. Binondo, Manila and San Miguel de Mayumo, Bulacan. 1890s. Ivory, silver, velvet, silvergilt threads, baticuling wood, glass, enamels. Property from the Don Maximo Viola Collection 

Another equally stunning highlight of the coming auction is Anita Magsaysay Ho's Women with Flowers (1993), made during her prolific Hong Kong years. It is from the collection of Zita Feliciano, a dear friend of the artist. The said commissioned piece is said to be Mrs. Feliciano's "birthday gift" to herself. 

San Jose y Niño Jesus, La Inmaculada Concepcion
Lot 140 San Jose y Niño Jesus and La Inmaculada Concepcion. Binondo, Manila and San Miguel de Mayumo, Bulacan. Ivory, silver, velvet, baticuling wood. 1890s. Property from the Don Maximo Viola Collection 

Mrs. Feliciano's son, Ito, writes that Women with Flowers was his "mom's piece de resistance” in the family living room, “which had an Amorsolo, a Sanso, Manansala, and Ocampo, all surrounding visitors to the heart of our home."

El Katipunan o el Filibusterismo en Filipinas: Cronica ilustrada con documentos, autografos y fotograbados
LOT 145 El Katipunan o el Filibusterismo en Filipinas: Cronica ilustrada con documentos, autografos y fotograbados (The Katipunan or the Subversives in the Philippines, Illustrated Chronicle with Documents, Manuscripts and Photogravures) by Jose M. Del Castillo y Jimenez. Asilo del Huerfanos del S.C. de Jesus, Madrid, 1897 leatherbound, 396 pages

'Works deeply connected to our country's struggle for self-determination are among the most coveted lots in this sale. "June is also always made memorable thanks to the birth anniversary of our national hero Jose Rizal,” says Ponce de Leon. And two works by Emmanuel "Manny" Garibay in this sale capture Rizal’s heroism. So does a rare copy of Rizal's Sucesos de las Islas Filipinas by Antonio de Morga, one of his three books that spurred and defined our country's identity. Maximo Viola, the man famous for rescuing Rizal's “Noli Me Tangere” from oblivion by lending him the money to publish it, is represented through his collection of extraordinary ivory tableaux. 

Marcos del Rosario Ortega (active 2nd half of the 19th century)
Lot 126 George M. Curtis (Letras y Figuras) by Marcos del Rosario Ortega (active 2nd half of the 19th century). Signed M. Ortega (lower right)

Also worth mentioning is a monograph by the Spanish official Jose M. del Castillo y Jimenez titled El Katipunan o el Filibusterismo en Filipinas [The Katipunan or the Subversives in the Philippines], a compelling account narrating and detailing the origins and beginnings of the revolutionary society that led the armed struggle for independence. 

Talim Island II by Jose Joya
Lot 121 Talim Island II by Jose Joya. signed and dated 1966 (verso) • Oil on wood • 32" x 24" (81 cm x 61 cm). Property from the Don J. Antonio Araneta Collection

Not to be ignored is a stunning Letras y Figuras by the 19th-century artist Marcos y Ortega del Rosario, a rarity of its kind as it is among the few that bear the signature of its painter.

Marina by Fernando Zóbel.
Lot 50 Marina by Fernando Zóbel. Signed and dated 1974 (lower right and verso); inscribed '74-66 / Marina / Sevilla, 23 / Dec. 1974' (verso)

Filipino global artists likewise take center stage in the June 17 auction. This exceptional batch includes Jose Joya who is represented by his Talim Island (1966), which is from that golden period where he was the country’s representative to the Venice Biennale; Fernando Zobel who is behind Marina (1974), an exemplary work showing the artist's sublime transition into his now iconic and coveted Serie Blanca; Federico Aguilar-Alcuaz is represented by his coveted opuses from his "Golden Period," the "Barcelona Series.” There’s also Benedicto Cabrera's entry to the 1969 Paris Biennale, Imaginary Portrait of Sabel II (1969); and Ronald Ventura's Profile (2010), Home Screen (2010), Into the Woods 3 (2012), Cross Turismo (2014), and Hunter (2015), all of which have graced international publications. 

Lot 123 Barcelona Series by Federico Aguilar Alcuaz
Lot 123 Barcelona Series by Federico Aguilar Alcuaz. Signed, inscribed Barcelona and dated 1964 (lower right). Oil on canvas

Of course, passionate art collectors who are key to ensuring the continued flourishing of Filipino art are also protagonists in this auction: Dr. Victor Reyes, pioneering Filipino neurosurgeon and friend to Filipino modernists, including H.R. Ocampo and Vicente Manansala; statesman and diplomat Carlos P. Romulo; legal luminary J. Antonio Araneta; revolutionary hero Gen. Benito Natividad; and the Father of Philippine healthcare, Dr. Roberto Macasaet, Sr., and his wife, Teresita Montinola. 

Lot 150 Night in Marantz by Federico Aguilar Alcuaz
Lot 150 Night in Marantz by Federico Aguilar Alcuaz. Signed, inscribed Barcelona and dated 1961 (upper left). Oil on wood

A rare Amorsolo moonlit scene, A Firelit Night with Musicians, from the collection of former Rizal Province Governor Dr. Wenceslao Pascual, as well as one of the earliest documented works by the maestro that he made during his first year of studies at the UP School of Fine Arts—a piece showing one of the earliest depictions of his favorite muse, the dalagang bukid—from Carlos P. Romulo's collection, are not to be missed. 

Lot 63 Imaginary Portrait of Sabel II
Lot 63 Imaginary Portrait of Sabel II by Benedicto Cabrera. Dated 1969 (verso). Spray paint on wood. Property from the Zita Feliciano Collection 

For this auction, Leon Gallery partners with the MovEd (Molding Optimism and Values Thru Education) Group in raising funds for the organization's mission of "providing free holistic and accessible early childhood education to underprivileged communities around the Philippines." The late Justin "Tiny" Nuyda's Painting the Sky (1985) will be sold to benefit the various charitable projects and initiatives of MovEd. 

Profile by Ronald Ventura
Lot 172 Profile by Ronald Ventura. Signed and dated 2010 (lower right). Mixed media. 72" x 48" x 11 1/2" (183 cm x 122 cm x 29 cm)
Home Screen by Ronald Ventura
Lot 47 Home Screen by Ronald Ventura. Dated 2010 • Fiber glass/resin, polyurethane paint. 30 1/4" x 51 3/4" x 18 1/4" (76 cm x 131 cm x 46 cm)

"This auction is really an invitation to once again revel in the imagination of the Philippines' greatest artists, tirelessly gathered by some of the country's most seasoned collectors," says Ponce de Leon. "We assure everyone of a wonderful journey through our country's art, and on behalf of Team León Gallery, I wish you all the best on this 125th year of the formation of our identity as a people."

[To browse the rest of the offerings in this Spectacular Midyear Auction, which is co-presented by ANCX, visit the Leon Gallery website.]

Images courtesy of Leon Gallery