As queenly—and a tad sexy—highlight of its annual Kingly Treasures December Auction, León Gallery will be auctioning off the very important “La Inocencia,” a portait of a beautiful young lady painted by Félix Resurrección Hidalgo y Padilla in Paris in 1901. Its starting bid is a whopping P10 million.
Formal bidding will be held on Dec. 3, 2 p.m., at Eurovilla 1, Rufino and Legazpi Streets, Legazpi Village, Makati City (call 8562781).
León Gallery director Jaime Ponce de León said “La Inocencia” comes from the Don Alejandro Legarda family and has been owned by the illustrious family for over a century.
“León Gallery is honored to having been chosen to auction this work that is inarguably among the most important Félix Resurreción Hidalgos’ in a private collection,” Ponce de León said.
Hailed as one of the great Filipino master painters of the late 19th century, Hidalgo inspired members of the Philippine reform movement whose members included José Rizal, Marcelo H. del Pilar, Mariano Ponce and Graciano López Jaena, and other Filipino expatriates in Madrid and Europe.
Art critic and historian Ramon Villegas said Hidalgo strived to capture the essence of innocence in “La Inocencia.”
“A guileless young woman is in an almost transparent shift,” he wrote in the catalog notes. “Her body is mature, but she is unaware of it. However, she is holding a bright red flower, a symbol of desire for worldly knowledge and growing sexuality. Like Hidalgo’s other depictions of women, ‘La Inocencia’ is ethereal: It is not quite like his women in moonlight and shadowy forests, but it is almost pre-Raphaelite in its romanticism.”
Among the works by old masters in the auction is Jorge Pineda’s 1945 oil-on-canvas “Magpaparol,” which has a starting price of P1 million.
According to Ponce de León, this “never-before-seen” work of the turn-of-the-century master is a stereotypical “tour de force.”
Another important piece is Fernando Zobel’s 1959 oil-on-canvas “Saeta” #248, which has a starting bid of P1.2 million.
“‘Saetas’ are the most sought after in the oeuvre of Fernando Zobel,” Ponce de Leon noted. “These were works done in the late 1950s. Much rarer still to find one in the predominant color red. In my years as an art dealer, this is yet the first time that I have encountered such color in a ‘Saeta’ work by Fernando Zobel.”
Also part of the sale is Hernando R. Ocampo’s 1955 oil-on-canvas “The Wall,” which has a starting bid of P1.4 million. The work is interesting because many art connoisseurs would argue that the best works of Ocampo were done in the 1950s.
“’The Wall,’ descending from a missionary couple in the United States who lived in the Philippines in the ’50s, made me certainly agree that it is a stellar work of the national artist from his best period,” Ponce de León said.
Another national artist is Ang Kiukok, whose 1988 oil-on-canvas “Fish,” which combines the artist’s expressionist and formalist aspect of his art, will be sold starting at P1.4 million.
Fernando Amorsolo’s 1954 oil-on-canvas “Flame Tree at Sunset on Manila Bay,” an image of the Philippine countryside from the bygone era, displays the artist’s take on romanticism.
An untitled work on canvas by Roberto Chabet is also included in the auction. It has a starting price of P600,000.
“Perhaps it is in the single digit percentage in the output of Chabet that he used canvas,” Ponce de León said. “We present one in this sale.”
Meanwhile, Juvenal Sansó’s 1968 oil-on-canvas “Leafy Corner” will be auctioned off starting at P400,000.
Also a significant piece is Lao Lianben’s 1992 acrylic-on-wood “Presence,” which has a starting bid of P1.2 million.
Vicente Manansala’s 1973 charcoal-on-paper “Nude,” a stunning play on light and figuration, has a starting price of P220,000; while Mauro Malang Santos’ 2002 gouache “Woman” has a starting bid of P100,000.
Bearing the artist’s signature style, Cesar Legaspi’s 1975 untitled oil-on-board diplays human torsos that classify themselves as rock formations. Its starting bid is P500,000. —CONTRIBUTED
Auction preview will be on Nov. 26 to Dec. 2, 9 a.m.-7 p.m.