An exquisite and very rare mesa altar from the late 18th century, referred to as “Batangas 1” because it was made in Southern Luzon by Chinese artisans who had intermarried with Filipinos, will be bidded out by León Gallery during its annual Kingly Treasures auction on Dec. 1.
Made entirely of balayong, such altar table with Ming-type cabriole legs could found only in the homes of the richest families during the Spanish era. So rare it is that only 18 of its kind are extant.
“The Batangas 1 furniture is the holy grail of Philippine furniture,” said Jaime Ponce de León of León Gallery. “It is the rarest and most distinguishable of all furniture. There are only 18 at last count authentic pieces of this kind that are known to exist.”
“No other furniture could claim more importance than this. The piece is all original and it is very hard to find a Batangas 1 (that’s) entirely original.”
Bidding will start at P8 million.
Another important antique furniture is the narra rococo table.
According to social historian Martin Tinio Jr., tables made in the Parian during the early colonial period were inspired by square tables that were placed before the family altar to hold offerings of food and incense.
“The rococo table is one of extremely fine proportions,” said Ponce de Leon. “It is a fantastic piece of the 18th century.”
Floor price is P1.8 million.
Another significant item is the Gabaldon-Tinio sideboard from the second quarter of the 19th century.
“The piece has a serpentine front with a wide, central bow-shaped apron flanked by a drawer on either side,” Tinio said. “The faces of the latter follow the symmetrical S-curve at the sides of the front and are line-inlaid in kamagong and bone with a rectangle with quadrant corners.”
Bidding will begin at P700,000.
The statue of San Miguel Arcangel carved from ivory has a starting price of P2 million. The figure depicts the angel with his right hand raised in the act of smiting the devil with a sword.
Among works by old masters, a most important piece is Felix Resurreccion Hidalgo’s (1855-1913) beautiful piece of the Normandy seascape.
The Hidalgo painting is descended directly from the family, said Ponce de León. It has a starting bid of P8 million.
Modern artists are also well-represented in the auction.
Lao Lianben’s 1992 untitled mixed-media work is the artist’s only known free-standing sculpture. It consists of Zen-scapes in three-dimensional forms. Floor price is P400,000.
Meanwhile, Juvenal Sansó’s untitled oil-on-canvas depicts a haunting landscape, with layers-upon-layers of rocks. Bidding will start at P500,000.
Manuel Rodriguez Sr.’s 1969 oil-on-canvas “Sungka” is an example of the artist’s experimentation in color and form. Floor price is P1 million.
Also an important piece is Romeo Tabuena’s untitled oil-on-canvas painting, which shows a mother nursing her child and a man plowing the rice field in the background. It has a starting price of P700,000.
Nena Saguil’s untitled oil-on-canvas painting conveys the artist’s visual vocabulary with its constellation of spheres in different permutations: from closed to open forms, from autonomous discs to interpenetrating outlines. It has starting bid of P500,000.
A part of his famous “Jai-Alai” series, Danilo Dalena’s 1982 oil-on-canvas “Game Over” has a starting bid of P2 million.
Among contemporary works, a key highlight is Roland Ventura’s oil-on-canvas “Embrace,” in which bidding opens at P5 million. —CONTRIBUTED
Preview will be on Nov. 24-30, 9 a.m-7 p.m., at G/F, Eurovilla 1, Rufino and Legazpi Sts., Legazpi Village, Makati City, Visit www.leon-gallery.com.