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.)
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.
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 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.)
Fernando Zóbel was a big fan of Lee Aguinaldo’s Linear series, particularly this Linear No. 36, as he said so in his letters.
Romulo Olazo’s Diaphanous No. 528 is a dazzling emerald green — that glows in the dark.
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.
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.)
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.
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.)
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.
Victor Oteyza’s “First Homage to Salvia” is not about a young lady but the common garden plant, the salvia.
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.
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.
All images courtesy of Leon Gallery.