León Gallery this weekend unveils a riveting “La Tertulia Filipina” or “salon” experience at “The Nonesuch: Fine Collectibles and Rarities” fair at the Manila Peninsula. The exhibition and sale will run Oct. 27-29, Friday-Sunday, 10 a.m.-9 p.m. An invitational preview takes place on Oct. 26, tomorrow, 5.30 p.m.
Taking inspiration from the tertulia—the Spanish term for a get-together of artists, poets and intellectuals at a private residence—the León Gallery edition promises to be as elegant and distinctive. (Incidentally, “La Tertulia Filipina” was also the title of an essay by Gen. Antonio Luna, who was adamant that the Manila gatherings were much better than those in Madrid.)
As a result of its expertise as a purveyor of museum-quality paintings and furniture, León Gallery will be presenting a selection of important paintings, ivory and furniture, as well as books, ceramics, jewelry and other accoutrements worthy of note in any century.
León Gallery’s “La Tertulia Filipina” is intended to start a conversation, a discussion, even an argument; to probe and explore; to recover and re-discover—and perhaps, even disrupt—what it is to be a Filipino in the 21st century in the context of our complex history.
Among the treasures sure to spark much avid interest is a version of Félix Resurrección Hidalgo’s immortal work “La Banca.” Dated in 1886, this comely panorama of a parasoled beauty about to float away with two boatmen is one of the lyrical sights most symbolic of Manila in that century. A companion piece, featuring a more humble yndio fisherman and his wife, is an equally remarkable window into ordinary life in our capital city, crisscrossed with the estero (or rivulets) that made it the Venice of the East at the turn of the century.
Also remarkable are several ivory statues made by Filipino artisans dating from the 17th century—a Madonna and Child, with gold-leaf decoration intact and timelessly elegant suksok drapery; the “Santo Cristo Expirante”; as well as astounding and rare ivory amulets and pendants, and many other astonishing precious objects.
There will also be various mesas altar (altar tables), inlaid sheratons, stately aparador (wardrobe) and narra tables.
On show will be a third edition “Flora de Filipinas,” the monumental botanical work by Fr. Francisco Manuel Blanco illustrated by 12 of the leading painters of the Manila Academia, including Resurreccion Hidalgo, Miguel Zaragoza and Lorenzo Guerrero.
For collectors of 20th-century art, there will be exceptional works including those by Fernando Amorsolo, such as “The Mango Sellers,” a view of a summer’s day in that painter’s idyllic countryside.
Truly, a visit to León Gallery’s “La Tertulia Filipina” at The Nonesuch will be a uniquely enriching experience to view art and objets d’art that will doubtless not be exhibited in public again.