School of Félix Resurrección Hidalgo, After Hidalgo, El Pescador de Sucag
Culture Art

13 intriguing details behind the most coveted artworks at the León auction

It’s the little stories that make owning these pieces so much more rewarding. Here are a dozen and one
E.A. Santamaria | Nov 26 2020

Everyone loves a tantalizing list! Here are 13 little-known but mind-boggling things about the kingly treasures at the upcoming León Gallery year-end auction. (It unfurls this Saturday, November 28, starting at 2 p.m., so get those virtual paddles ready.)

 

1.

BenCab’s massive “Homage to Turing” is actually a reference to Arturo Luz’ code name “Turing.” Sources in the know say that it was Arturo’s alias when he would go on a nightclub crawl with fellow man-about-town Benedicto ‘BenCab’ Cabrera.

Arturo Luz
Benedicto Cabrera (b. 1942), Homage to Turing. Signed and dated 2006 (lower right). Acrylic on canvas 45” x 84” (114 cm x 213 cm)

 

2.

It’s almost 30 years later, and nobody knows for sure who the mystery lady is in the Annie Cabigting work “Tearing into Pieces.” Cabigting based her work on a photograph of the infamous installation by her mentor Robert Chabet at the Small Gallery of the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) way back in 1993. In this piece, Chabet stuffed the shredded pieces of the art book “Contemporary Philippine Art” by Manuel Duldulao into a trash bin.

The León Reward Poster to find out the identity of the mystery woman
140 Annie Cabigting (b. 1971), Tearing Into Pieces. Mixed media, installation. Variable dimension for female shapes, 11"  x 11"  (27 cm x 27 cm each), 48 tiles.

 

3.

The Arrowsmith Map of the Philippines of 1812/1818 is the only one of its kind in the world known to exist. Like the Murillo-Velarde Map, it shows the disputed Scarborough Shoal. (A 1760 version of the Murillo-Velarde is also up for auction at the Nov 28th sale.)

Aaron Arrowsmith (1750 - 1823), Chart of the Philippine Islands London, 1812 (1818). Hand-colored copperplate engraving, very good condition. 39 1/2” x 27” (100 cm x 69 cm)
Pedro Murillo Velarde (1696 - 1753) George Maurice Lowitz, Nicolas De La Cruz De Bagay/ Francisco Suarez Carte Hydrographique & Chorographique des Isles Philippines [Translation of the text in the upper right cartouche of the map]. Dedicated to the Catholic Majesty by the Governor-General Fernando Valdés Tamon. Drawn by the Jesuit Pedro Murillo Velarde. Copied from the 1734 edition with some changes and in reduced format by George Maurice Lowitz, Professor of Mathematics in Nuremberg in 1750. Published by the firm of Homann Heirs in 1760 [the original was engraved by Nicolas de la Cruz de Bagay, a Tagalog Indio, in Manila in 1734] Nuremberg, 1760. Hand-colored copperplate engraving. 36 1/2” x 21” (93 cm x 53 cm)

 

4.

Fernando Zóbel was a big fan of Lee Aguinaldo’s Linear series, particularly this Linear No. 36, as he said so in his letters. 

Fernando Zobel
Lee Aguinaldo (1933 - 2007), Linear No. 36. Signed and dated March 18, 1966 (verso). Acrylic (aqua-tec) on marine plywood. 36” x 36” (91 cm x 91 cm)

 

5.

Romulo Olazo’s Diaphanous No. 528 is a dazzling emerald green — that glows in the dark.

Romulo Olazo (1932 - 2015), Diaphanous No. 528. Signed and dated 1997 (bottom). Oil on canvas. 36” x 36” (91 cm x 91 cm)

 

6.

There are 16 lots belonging to the Don Eugenio “Geny” Lopez, Jr. collection. H.R. Ocampo’s “Tempo Rubato" (Robbed Time), like the Aguinaldo Linear No. 36, are just a few of the jewels in the crown.

Geny Lopez
Hernando R. Ocampo (1911 - 1978), Tempo Rubato (Robbed Time). Signed and dated 1949 (lower right). Oil on canvas. 22” x 28” (55 cm x 70 cm)

 

7.

Macario Vitalis’ ‘St. George and the Dragon’ is based on the legend of St. George —who killed a dragon to free a princess. You can see the dragon’s eye and its snout in the painting. (The princess stands on the right.)

Macario Vitalis (1898 - 1990), St. George and the Dragon. Signed and dated 1954 (lower right). Oil on canvas. 32” x 39 1/2” (81 cm x 100 cm)
 

8.

Hidalgo’s masterpiece “Per Pacem et Libertatem (Through Peace and Liberty)” was lost in the Battle of Manila during World War II. This tantalizing study of a goddess holding the cup of knowledge is a beautiful fragment that remains.

106 Félix Resurrección Hidalgo (1855 - 1913), Boceto (Study) of Per Pacem et Libertatem (Through Peace and Liberty) ca. 1903 Graphite on paper 24” x 14 1/2” (60 cm x 36 cm)

 

9.

Speaking of Hidalgo, a charming work called “A Farmhouse in Normandy” was in the Don Antonio Meer collection. Meer was a co-founder of PLDT, alongside Tonyboy Cojuangco’s father, Ramon. (Meer is shown here with Gretchen and Tonyboy.)

Gretchen Barretto, Atty Tony Meer, Antonio “Tony Boy” Cojuangco Jr.
95 Félix Resurrección Hidalgo (1855 - 1913), A Farmhouse in Normandy Signed (lower right), ca. 1900. Oil on board. 7 1/2” x 9 1/2” (19 cm x 24 cm)

 

10.

Bencab’s “A Younger Poet in Exile” features his friend, Jun Terra. Both of them are fans of vintage books and would trawl the London stores for rare Philippine editions. These would later form the basis of BenCab’s “Larawan” series.

Jun Terra article mentioning Bencab
Benedicto Cabrera (b. 1942), A Younger Poet in Exile. Signed and dated 1978 (lower right). Acrylic on paper. 26” x 20” (66 cm x 50 cm)

 

11.

Victor Oteyza’s “First Homage to Salvia” is not about a young lady but the common garden plant, the salvia.

110 Victor Oteyza (1913 - 1979), First Homage to Salvia. Signed and dated 1954 (verso). Oil on canvas. 33 1/2” x 16 1/2” (85 cm x 42 cm)
 

12.

Two lovely paintings thought to be the ‘School of Resurreccion Hidalgo’ — or even other Filipino masters — are copies of works that went to the Centennial Exposition of 1876 in Philadelphia to mark 100 years of the USA’s independence.

School of Félix Resurrección Hidalgo (1855 - 1913), After Hidalgo, La Banca. Dated 1886 (lower right). Oil on canvas. 26” x 44” (66 cm x 112 cm)
School of Félix Resurrección Hidalgo (1855 - 1913), After Hidalgo, El Pescador de Sucag. Dated 1886 (lower right). Oil on canvas. 26” x 44” (66 cm x 112 cm)

 

13.

There are identical sketches of toy soldiers by Juan Luna at the Lopez Museum as what are found in Luna’s Christmas letter to his son.

85 Very Rare Juan, Antonio and Andres Luna Private Papers, One Lot. Juan Luna (1857 - 1899) A letter with sketch, addressed to his son, Andres Luna (1887 - 1952) Dated Christmas Day, 25 December 1898, Yokohama (framed) 

All images courtesy of Leon Gallery.