Some of the biggest sales in Leon Gallery’s March auction for the Asian Cultural Council art scholars were from the collection of premier society figure Nene Tuason-Quimson. The biggest star was her imposing Betsy Westendorp painting of a bouquet of flowers which was 11-ft tall and 7-ft wide and sold for PHP 17,520,000. An Amorsolo painting of a harvest scene from the same collection fetched a startling PHP 12,848,000, while her small but hugely important Odalisca by Juan Luna went for PHP 11,680,000. And those are just the top 3 items that pulled in the most money.
Clearly, provenance played an important part in the success of these lots. That they came from Quimson’s collection, and are physical representations of her lifestyle and taste surely mattered a lot. That the socialite-philanthropist lived with these artworks and antiques for a fraction of her life carried considerable weight.
The lady did have an eye for beauty—trained no doubt by all those years of traveling, and being surrounded only by the most exquisite things. Arts and antiques fans will have a chance to see more of her beloved pieces collected over the decades as Leon Gallery is once again presenting another important array of Quimson’s collection at this weekend’s Leon Exchange Online Auction.
Included in the online sale are precious items from Nene’s La Vista home in Quezon City. The selection includes two 19th-century Sterling Silver Epergnes, an array of early 20th-century art deco sculptures, Famille Verte Porcelain Vases from the Qing Dynasty, a Double-Pedestal Dining Table, and an Oriental Twelve-Panel Screen Divider.
Born Maria de los Angeles del Rosario Tuason, Nene was the youngest daughter of Jose Maria Zaragoza Tuason (from the prominent Tuason clan) and Magdalena Locsin del Rosario (who descended from the industrialist family that established the PHINMA conglomerate). Nene married Juan Tuason Quimson on February 11, 1953 and bore six children: Consuelo, John, Angeles, Ana Maria, Enrique, and Jose Luis.
Her eldest daughter Consuelo remembers how her mother was a lady of contradictions. “She was heaven and earth, fire and rain, yin and yang. At times, she was hard to figure out, hard to get on with. At other times, she was a joy to be with and super fun, discoing with us as teenagers in Regine’s.”
Nene’s elder son John, meanwhile, says his mother was very old school. She was always well-dressed, even in just her house clothes. Life at home was very organized. Breakfast was a casual affair but “lunch and dinner were formal, dressy ones. You know, all those plates and glasses and cutlery and staff to move everything.”
Nene’s residence was filled with the finest objects. The writer and antiques expert Toto Gonzales III notes: “Nene was a lady who took pride in her homes and gardens. She was ‘house proud’ and consequently had high standards regarding domestic upkeep. She had a loyal core staff whom she deployed wherever needed.”
Nene also had exquisite taste for fine dinnerware, says Gonzales III: “Nene went much further than her Tuason elders and laid her tables not only with wonderful food but also beautiful chinaware, glassware, silverware, and linens….Her lunch and dinner tables were invariably formal and set in the English style with layered chinaware and an array of silverware and glassware per place setting.”
A Sèvres Vajilla (dinner service) is among the dinnerware owned by the grand dame that are witnesses to her refined manner of living. The vajilla being offered by Leon Gallery in the above mentioned online auction was manufactured by the Manufacture Nationale de Sèvres, one of the leading European porcelain factories. It was founded in 1756 and is headquartered in Sèvres, Hauts-de-Seine in France. Since its foundation nearly three centuries ago, Sèvres has become one of the few porcelain companies that have retained its prestige and continuous demand in the market.
Salad Saucer Plate; Coffee Saucer Plate; Rimmed Bowl; Soup Bowl; Soup Tureen; Lidded Soup Dish; Extra Large Oval Platter; Large Oval Platter; Medium Oval Platter; Small Oval Platter; Footed Bowl
Sèvres is renowned for its varied styles and designs. Leon Gallery writes in its auction catalog: “The vajilla at hand, consisting of platters, saucers, and bowls, is decorated with various species of flora on the sides, which are also heavily accentuated by fine gilding in curls, scrolls, and trellis patterns. These decorations are hand-painted, a tradition that dates to the company’s foundation in the 18th century. Jeweled embellishments, in which gilt and colors are laid on like encrusted gems, highlight the edges of the crockery.”
To view more of what’s in store at the León Exchange 23rd Online Auction, ongoing from Friday, April 22 to Sunday, April 24 (starts at 11AM daily), browse the catalog at https://leon-gallery.com. For further inquiries, email email@example.com or contact +632 8856 2781/+639985172010.
All bidding will be online at www.leonexchange.com.