Hidden Fernando Zobel’s art revealed

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Becky Garcia

Becky Garcia

Works of painter Fernando Zobel de Ayala y Montojo (b.1924-d.1984) excited Manila’s art market as Leon Gallery and Auction House opened to public view the long-hidden masterpieces before they went on the auction block.

On February 6, the exhibit titled “The Jim and Reed Pfeufer Collection: A four-decade friendship with Fernando Zobel” featured over 70 pieces, including sketches, oil paintings, prints, watercolor pieces, and letters illustrating how the Spanish-Filipino artist’s friendship with American couple Jim and Reed Pfeufer flourished throughout the years. All these are offered at the Leon Gallery and Auction House, the country’s leading gallery specializing in historically important and museum quality Philippine art.

Gracing the exhibit’s opening on January 19 were: Patsy Zobel de Ayala, Honorary Consul,  Philippine Consulate in Monaco, daughter of Jaime Zobel de Ayala and sister of Jaime Augusto and Fernando Zobel de Ayala; the Pfeufers’ son Eric, as well as luminaries from the world of art like National Artists Benedicto “BenCab” Cabrera with Annie Sarthou, National Artist Arturo Luz with his wife Tessie Ojeda Luz, painter Jack Salud, Silvana Diaz of Galleria Duemila, art gallery director Patrick Kraft and former Philippine Ambassador Virgilio Reyes Jr.

Credited as an important part of Zobel’s artistic life, the Pfeufers are now represented by their surviving son, Eric.


Zobel’s works were accidentally discovered by Eric Pfeufer when he was going through the art portfolios in various storage places in his parents’ home. He then entrusted the exhibit and auction to Leon Gallery and Auction House, through respected international art dealer Sheldon Geringer, who had also produced a documentary on the Zobel collection.

Besides artworks, Leon Gallery possesses around 500 letters from Zobel to the Pfeufers, a correspondence that began in the mid-1940s to 1981. Most of Zobel’s moving letters, written in longhand or typed, often came with an illustration unique to the mood of the letter.

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