Luxurious Philippine fine art, antiques and furniture from the Luis Ma Araneta y Zaragoza Collection are the fea-tured items in Leon Gallery’s yearend Kingly Treasures Auction 2019 on November 30, 2 p.m. at Eurovilla 1, Legaspi Street corner Rufino Street, Legazpi Village, Makati City.
The renowned architect (1916-1984) — the progeny of lawyer Gregorio Araneta y Soriano and heiress Carmen Za-ragoza y Roxas — designed the Makati Medical Center, Manila Doctors Hospital, the Immaculate Concepcion Church in Cubao and the Times Theater in Quiapo where he grew up.
Social historian Augusto Marcelino “Toto” Reyes Gonzalez 3rd remarked in the catalog that Araneta was known for making their Forbes Park residence the epicenter of Manila’s high society in the 1960s, for making his son Greggy’s marriage to Irene Marcos more pompous than the Prince Charles-Lady Diana wedding, and for passing on while shopping for Baccarat crystals.
Pieces on the auction block
On the front line are the lots of fabulous Philippine art Fabian dela Rosa’s “Landscape (Mariquina)” — which is both rare and important — coming from the third most important Filipino painter after Juan Luna and Felix Resurreccion Hidalgo and the mentor by which the Philippines’ first National Artist, his nephew, Fernando Amorsolo, developed his technique.
De la Rosa (1869-937) first studied painting at the Escuela Superior de Pintura, Grabado y Escultura under Don Lo-renzo Rocha, before he came under the tutelage of Lorenzo Guerrero and Miguel Zaragoza. Later on, he attended Academie de Julien in France and the Academia de Belles Artes de San Fernando in Spain, a most esteemed acad-emy that primed the international appeal of Luna, Hidalgo, and after him, Amorsolo. His return to the Philippines in 1910 saw him joining the distinguished faculty of the University of the Philippines School of Fine Arts.
Also on the auction block are two valuable pieces by National Artist Fernando Amorsolo, the early work “River” (1927, 18” x 12”) and a later oeuvre “Under the Mango Tree (1962, 24” x 33”). These works span the master’s artis-tic trajectory from his auspicious beginnings as a master of the Filipiniana to the peak of his critically acclaimed pop-ularity as an artist of the people.
Amorsolo as a master of light and dark captures lights transcience so powerfully as to make everything that it touches come alive, as in the ephemeral timelessness of the women in “River” and the nostalgic “Under the Man-go Tree” scene where his control of his craft as supreme draftsman and as master colorist converge.
Also from the Luis Ma Araneta Collection is an exceedingly rare “late Neoclassical” stained golden narra armchair with original mother of pearl inlays (narra wood is also known as Burmese Rosewood or Andaman redwood for its reddish or rosy tint) and a “pair of batikuling archangels with their original polychromy and gilding from turn of the 19th century Philippines Pampanga or Bulacan.”
Prophetic Bonifacio letter
Also up for bids in the Kingly Treasures Auction 2019—which coincides with the 156th Bonifacio Day celebrations—is an exceedingly important prophetic letter signed by Katipunan Founder and Supremo Andres Bonifacio in 1892.
This historically rare and revealing document exposes the secret organization’s desire to expand its reach to Min-danao, dispelling the long held myth that the KKK is a Tagalog-centric cult.
The letter has the Supremo authorizing a certain Managhas, code name for Katipunero Restituto Javier, and signing the membership expansion appointment papers with his own blood, to organize Katipunan’s membership triads in the Philippines second biggest island.
It was supposed that Javier’s excursion into Mindanao had been part of his work as a warehouseman of the ce-ment, brick and tile maker Fressel & Co which opened an opportunity for the Katipunan to expand its reach in Southern Philippines.
Previously kept in historian Don Epifanio de los Santos’s extensive collection, the document will be shown for the first time to the public to be viewed and regarded in its entirety. This extremely important document is one of the few extant foundational documents in the Philippines, in private possession, with the rest kept under lock and key in Madrid’s Military Archives.
Other rare historical pieces
Other priceless historical documents on the Kingly Treasures Auction 2019 is an exceedingly rare Katipunan blood oath by a certain Pedro dela Cruz behind the code Mapagtangol, one of only two extant known today; a battle map of the first three days of the Cry of Pugad Lawin; several cedulas personales, which serve as the period’s public ID; and a “dramatic eyewitness portrayal” by Jorge Pineda of the execution of National Hero and “The First Filipino” Jose Rizal at the Luneta, with that pale white dog appearing to whimper and bark as it runs around the dead hero’s body, marking an important period in Philippine history.
The preview of The Kingly Treasures Auction 2019 runs from November 25 to 29, with cocktails on November 27.