New “Old” Filipino Master Paintings Surface and Break Auction Records

New “Old” Filipino Master Paintings Surface And Break Auction Records

Myles A. Garcia

In recent years, several new works by Juan Luna, the Philippines’ acknowledged old but very disturbed master and the calmer, more stable Felix Resurreccion Hidalgo, have surfaced from out of nowhere and gone on to break auction records in the Philippines.  

The two painters, friends and contemporaries who perfected their artistic techniques in Europe, have been enjoying a resurgence, their European works re-appearing and being given 21st century due worth.  Two Luna paintings especially, one hitherto unknown to scholars, the other considered long-lost, made their “global” reappearance at recent auctions in Manila and drew record prices. 

One of the few surviving photos showing Juan Luna, right, and Felix Resurreccion Hidalgo, left, together, at ages 27 and 29 respectively. (Man in the middle is Pedro Paterno.) This was supposedly taken in Rome sometime before they submitted their individual entries to the 1884  Exposicion Nacional de Bellas Artes  in Madrid where they would make history. (c/o Ambeth Ocampo and inquirer.net)

One of the few surviving photos showing Juan Luna, right, and Felix Resurreccion Hidalgo, left, together, at ages 27 and 29 respectively. (Man in the middle is Pedro Paterno.) This was supposedly taken in Rome sometime before they submitted their individual entries to the 1884 Exposicion Nacional de Bellas Artes in Madrid where they would make history. (c/o Ambeth Ocampo and inquirer.net)

Why The Recent Spate Of Old Classical Filipino Masterpieces? 

At some time or another, the skeletons have to come out of the closet.  Unknown Lunas, etc., which don’t really mean much in the European and American art circles, have found their way home to the Philippines.  There are these following reasons:  

·      There is flush cash.  There are probably at least two dozen serious collectors and social-climbing families in the Philippines with lucre to spare to make for exciting bidding wars the way Van Goghs, Vermeers or Warhols create a frenzy at Christie’s London or Sotheby’s New York.  Probably more nouveau riches than olde money, but, hey, cash is cash. 

·      Salcedo Auctions, which has found several of the long-lost canvases, seems to be at the right place at the right time.   Make hay while the sun shines.  Who knows when the next economic downturn will hit?   There are no longer Sotheby’s and Christie’s satellite offices in Manila now, but there are two or three other auction houses doing a brisk business in the retail fine arts and furnishings trade.

Per Artprice, an online database which tracks arts sales and auctions, as of mid-2015, the Philippines was already the world’s 17th busiest art auction marketplace, only behind Belgium; and higher than Japan in an average transaction price tabulation, with each recorded transaction above $28,000 compared with Japan’s average price of less than $6,000.”

·      “Repatriation” is the now buzz word in the art world wherein collectors and art institutions are more open to returning works of art to their indigenous lands of origins (or at least of that of their creators).  For the right price, it can be done and it seems the fashionably “right thing to do.” 

·      There is the cachet and allure of being part of your own “Antiques Roadshow” or “Fake or Fortune”—two of the most popular shows on the genre—moment in which you/your work is “discovered” for all the world to see and your new objet d’art on its way to fame and fortune to perhaps breaking new auction records.  You may not buy Da Vinci’s Salvator Mundi for $450 million smackeroos, but you can still have an authentic Luna or Hidalgo.

·      There is a limited but dwindling supply of authentic “old master” canvases.  Unlike the French Impressionists, which seem to have an endless supply (and many are well preserved and documented) or Amorsolos, which are more recent, more concentrated in the Philippines and of cheerier subject than the Lunas; therefore, an owner has more affinity to care for them.  For old Filipino master paintings, the threats to their survival are posed by time: (i) when canvas and paints were of inferior quality vs. more contemporary ones); and (ii) the ravages of sudden transport from the kinder climes of Europe or North America to Manila’s heat and humidity, both contribute to lesser chances of the old Filipino canvases surviving into a presentable state. 

(We once had an old abuela portrait by Damian Domingo in the family, but it was so badly disfigured and deteriorated from neglect when it came to my attention, that it was beyond restoration.)  Furthermore, because of natural calamities and wars, countless artworks and a record of them were irrevocably destroyed and lost.  It is believed that is how many Juan Luna canvases in Manila perished. 

·      Today, there is enough knowledge, experience, sophistication and financial guarantees available to make these auctions legitimate and above board, attracting the most money from more knowledgeable collectors.    

Of course, all of this transcontinental commerce of art on a global scale would not have been possible without the internet.  Leonardo da Vinci could not have spent his final years in the comfort of the French court had the French king, Francis I, not invited him to come to Amboise. (Surely not by Evite or email, but by courier and equine messenger).  Whereas today, with a few strokes of the keyboard, a “long lost” painting from Cordoba, Argentina, can find its way to a Manila auction in a matter of a few email exchanges and agreements. 


A Chosen Few  


I have chosen to tell the stories of a select few of the recently surfaced paintings and give their winning bids in US dollars as well (since that is the international currency noted for record-winning auctions sales).   But first, let’s take a refresher course on the important points in the two artists’ lives to gain some context on history and appreciate the strides made over the centuries. 

1855 February 21 – Felix Resurreccion Hidalgo is born in Binondo, Manila.

1857 October 24 – Juan Novicio Luna is born in Badoc, Ilocos Norte.

1877 – Luna travels to Europe with his older brother, Manuel, enrolls at the Real Academia de Bellas Artes de San Fernando in Madrid.  He is unhappy with the method of instruction there, so he moves to Rome in 1878. 

1879 - Felix Resurreccion Hidalgo sails to Spain as a pensionado in fine arts for the Ayuntamiento in Manila. (A pensionado was a promising young man sent to the Mother country by the colonial governments to gain knowledge and experience in the ways of the colonizing power and came back after a few years to apply what he had learned whether in culture, education, judicial or civil service systems to his society of origin.) 

1878-84 – Years Luna spent in Rome where he finds inspiration for his greatest work, Spoliarium.    

Here is a very untypical Luna from his Roman period:

Las Damas Romanas, Roman Maidens , 1882. Brighter than usual but still, note the very dark interior, a foreboding of things to come. Proportions of the two human subjects, the whippets, the doves and the height of the steps are all off. It’s all very light and playful; so unlike the mood of Luna’s later work. In a private collection.

Las Damas Romanas, Roman Maidens, 1882. Brighter than usual but still, note the very dark interior, a foreboding of things to come. Proportions of the two human subjects, the whippets, the doves and the height of the steps are all off. It’s all very light and playful; so unlike the mood of Luna’s later work. In a private collection.

1881 –  Luna’s La Muerte de Cleopatra (Death of Cleopatra) wins 2nd place  in Madrid.

1883 – Luna starts the Spoliarium boceto in Rome. 

1884 – For the 1884 Exposicion General de Bellas Artes salon in Madrid, Luna submits the Spoliarium while Hidalgo submits Las virgenes Cristianas expuestas al populacho (The Christian virgins Exposed to the Populace) which takes a silver medal. 

Felix R. Hidalgo’s   Las virgenes Cristianas expuestas al populacho   took the silver medal at the 1884  Exposicion  in Madrid. (Strangely, this canvas looks more Luna-esque than by Hidalgo.)

Felix R. Hidalgo’s Las virgenes Cristianas expuestas al populacho took the silver medal at the 1884 Exposicion in Madrid. (Strangely, this canvas looks more Luna-esque than by Hidalgo.)

The Filipinos managed to pull a double coup when the Spoliarium took the gold medal while Las Virgenes took the silver.  The prevailing sentiment at that time from the aggrieved (local) losers must have been something like:  Imagine, these indios winning the top prizes at these very European competitions?  How cheeky of these colonial upstarts, but we must’ve schooled them well! 

[Note: At these international art salons of the 19th century-early 20th century, several gold or silver medals and Diplomas of honor were awarded.  It’s like the dog shows of today where several gold/silver/bronze or Best of Show ribbons are simultaneously awarded.  So, some of these awards are of relative significance.  Bronze medal/3rd placements didn’t become standard until the 1904 St. Louis World’s Fair and Olympic Games—both in the athletic and artistic competitions there.] 

1884 – 1893 – Luna moved to France.   

1885 – Luna submits “¿A Do… Va La Nave?” to that year’s Exposicion General de Bellas Artes in Madrid where it wins a silver medal. 

1886 December – Luna and Paz Pardo de Tavera get married in Paris.   

1889 – Hidalgo’s La barca de Aqueronte (Charon’s Boat) wins a gold medal at the Exposicion General de las Artes Filipinas in Madrid (which begs the question:  how does something dealing with Greek mythology, get included in an exhibit of things Philippine, other than its painter being Filipino?). 

La Barca de Aqueronte  now resides at the National Museum of Fine Arts of the Philippines in Manila.

La Barca de Aqueronte now resides at the National Museum of Fine Arts of the Philippines in Manila.

La barca de Aqueronte becomes Hidalgo’s most awarded work, also winning:

-       Paris Exposition competition, 1889, silver medalist

-       Exposicion de Bellas Artes, Barcelona, 1891, Diploma of Honor

-       Exposicion Internacional de Bellas Artes, Madrid, 1893, gold medal.

In the same year (1889), the government of France makes Hidalgo a Chevalier de la Legion d’Honneur, the first Filipino to be so named. 

Early 1892 – Not to be outdone, Juan Luna paints The Parisian Life in France.

Juan Luna’s “The Parisian Life” or (“ Interior d'un Café” en française) , 1892

Juan Luna’s “The Parisian Life” or (“Interior d'un Café” en française), 1892

September 1892 – Luna shoots to death his wife, Paz Pardo de Tavera and mother-in-law, Juliana Gorricho de Pardo de Tavera, and wounds brother-in-law, Felix Pardo de Tavera in Paris, in a fit of jealous rage.

February 1893 – Luna is acquitted of the murders.  How paradoxical that where one Filipino artist is awarded the distinguished Chevalier d’Legion d’Honneur another gets away with two murders due to France’s spurious crime passionel laws. Otherwise, it would have been the guillotine for Luna.  Quelle ironie supreme!  

Shortly after his newfound notoriety, Luna is asked to curate the Philippine showcase at an exhibit in the Museo Arqueológico de Madrid where his boceto for the Spoliarium and La Pintura by Felix Resurreccion Hidalgo are known to have been exhibited.  This fact is important in the provenance of both paintings. 

1894 –  Luna returns home to Manila after 17 years.   

1898 – Spanish rule in the Philippines ends; Americans take over.

December 7, 1899 – Luna eventually succumbs to a heart attack in Hong Kong, age 42.  Luna’s remains lie at San Agustin Cathedral in Manila. 

1904 –  The new American colony of the Philippines has a large presence at the St. Louis (Missouri) World Exposition of 1904.  The most infamous exhibit is the vast recreation of an Igorot village, which is meant to show how “primitive” the Filipinos are.  At the same time, as a counterbalance to that condescending display, the best of Filipino oil portraiture and sculptures are ably represented by several Hidalgo and Luna works, among others.  One Luna canvas known to have been exhibited at the 1904 Fair and then returned to Manila is Peuple et Roi (People and Kings); but sadly, it is destroyed in World War II and very few records of it exist.   

1913 – Felix Resurreccion Hidalgo died in Barcelona. 

1936-38 – The Spanish Civil War.  Supposedly, a number of Hidalgo’s paintings in Spain are destroyed. 

1941-45 – World War II.  More of Luna’s works in Manila, as indeed many other works of lesser Filipino artists, were destroyed in the war. 

1958 – The Spoliarium is repatriated from Madrid and finally came home to Manila.

1988 –  Post 21 years of the Marcos regime, the Imelda-free Metropolitan Museum of Manila mounts the 1st National Juan Luna and Felix Resurreccion Hidalgo Commemorative Exhibit. 

2000 - In the new century, the resurgence of old Filipino masterpiece paintings returning home and their astonishing run of record bids in both foreign and Manila auctions begin, made possible by the use of the internet. 

2002 October – Luna’s “The Parisian Life” is sold at Christie’s Hong Kong to the GSIS Corpo-ration, for a record Php45.4 – 46 million / US$870,000, already a record at that time. 

2006 –  The National Museum in Manila unveils a restored Spoliarium and presents a staging of the opera Spoliarium with music by Ryan Cayabyab and libretto by Fides Cuyugan Asensio.  The opera interweaves the story of the Spoliarium canvas together with the dastardly personal deeds of Juan Luna. 

2013 – In the city where Luna died in exile, one version of his España y Filipinas was auctioned for (Php156.52 million / US$3.34 million) at Sotheby’s Hong Kong, making it the most expensive painting by a Filipino artist sold at a foreign (i.e., non-Filipino) location to date.  

A pair of “ España y Filipinas”,  1886, belonging to the National Gallery of Singapore. Note the back-view of the two women, i.e., their faces turned away from the viewer. This seems to be a prevalent “cheat” of some painters and is present in several of the canvases discussed here.

A pair of “España y Filipinas”, 1886, belonging to the National Gallery of Singapore. Note the back-view of the two women, i.e., their faces turned away from the viewer. This seems to be a prevalent “cheat” of some painters and is present in several of the canvases discussed here.

There are five versions of España y Filipinas painted by Juan Luna in varying sizes and color combinations known to exist.  One is this España y Filipinas auctioned off in Hong Kong in 2013 which originally came from the Castiñeira family collection in Spain.  The other versions of this work are the pair in Singapore (above), one at the Prado in Madrid (the largest in size), and a fifth one at the Lopez Memorial Library in Manila.  There is supposedly a sixth version out there.  A fuller telling of this Hong Kong canvas’ provenance is detailed further down (2018). 

2014 – A historical novel, The Brothers Luna: Madmen of Geniuses? by Jules Delgallego, is launched in Manila.  (Disclaimer:  Delgallego is a friend of the author.) 


An Email From Cordoba, Argentina


2015 – “¿A Do… Va La Nave?” surfaced with an email to Salcedo Auctions from Cordoba, Argentina. 

“¿A Do… Va La Nave?”  (oil on canvas, 21½” x 41”), probably Luna’s only seascape and one with brighter colors no less. Six maidens in a lifeboat. Were they left behind or are they trying to chase an unseen ship?

“¿A Do… Va La Nave?” (oil on canvas, 21½” x 41”), probably Luna’s only seascape and one with brighter colors no less. Six maidens in a lifeboat. Were they left behind or are they trying to chase an unseen ship?

“¿A Do… Va La Nave?” won a silver medal at the 1885 Exposicion General de Bellas Artes in Madrid but after one documented exhibition, disappeared from record.   The painting’s strange title comes from an unfinished poem, El Diablo Mundo,  by Spanish poet, Jose de Espronceda (1808-1842):

 Alla va la nave.  Quien sabe do va?    (There goes the ship.  Who knows where it goes?)

Ay, triste el que fia / Del viento y la mar!”(Oh, sad the one who trusted, by wind or by sea.)

Presently, “¿A Do… Va La Nave?” arrived in Manila from Argentina via Cuba.  While there is no exact documentation on the painting’s travel provenance, somehow, it ended up in Cuba under the ownership of one Goar Mestre.  Supposedly Mestre owned the painting for some seven decades until he was forced to flee in 1959 with the overthrow of Batista and the entry of the Castro communist regime.  Mestre ended up in Argentina with the canvas abruptly or shortly thereafter.  The last Argentine owner from Cordoba, Argentina, who contacted Salcedo Auctions has chosen to stay anonymous but one story shared with the Salcedo Gallery is that the owner’s sister was seriously interested in just the painting’s frame and they were about to dispose of the canvas ignominiously. 

The plate identifying the work by Juan Luna, however, caused the brother to do a little research online, and only then did they learn of more of its provenance.  He contacted Salcedo Auctions via email, and the rest is history.  The Luna canvas, long thought to be lost entirely, was intact and had surfaced.  The man from Cordoba personally hand-carried the painting to Manila.  True to its subject of chasing after a ship whose destination is unknown, another record that ¿A Do… Va La Nave? can notch up to its provenance, is that it is probably the most “traveled” of Luna’s paintings: from Madrid to Cuba to Cordoba, finally to Manila chalking up some 22,330 miles (both air and sea miles). 

Salcedo sold ¿A Do… Va La Nave? for Php 46,720,000 (U$916,000) making it the second most expensive old master/19th century painting and seventh overall, in the Philippines. 

Heneral Luna, a commercial film bout Juan Luna’s brother, Antonio, another hothead, and supposedly the most expensive Filipino film ever made, opens in Manila and breaks box office records. 

 

A Child’s Portrait


At the same 2015 Salcedo auction, this portrait of Rosa Nalda Gil by Hidalgo also came up for sale. 

Portrait of Rosa Nalda Gil, an antecedent of Rosemarie Gil’s present-day clan, by Felix Resurreccion Hidalgo, Madrid, 1890.

Portrait of Rosa Nalda Gil, an antecedent of Rosemarie Gil’s present-day clan, by Felix Resurreccion Hidalgo, Madrid, 1890.

Even though the painting was made in Spain in 1890, there is a present-day Philippine connection in that the child Rosa was the daughter of Pablo Nalda Gil, a military officer of the 1890s in Spain, and that the family of actress Rosemarie Gil are related.  Rosa’s branch, however, appears to have remained in Spain where this canvas resided for years.  How the painting eventually came to the Manila auction is unrevealed but the exquisite painting drew a winning Php13 million (US$260,000) bid.


A Local Hidalgo Goes On The Block


The end of 2016 saw the appearance of La Inocencia (Innocence), Félix Resurrección Hidalgo’s painting of youthful innocence inspired by his long-time companion in Europe, Maria Yrritia. 

La Inocencia , 1901. A winsome portrait inspired by Maria Yrritia, Hidalgo’s longtime companion. With the original frame by master woodcarver Isabelo Tampinco.

La Inocencia, 1901. A winsome portrait inspired by Maria Yrritia, Hidalgo’s longtime companion. With the original frame by master woodcarver Isabelo Tampinco.

Unlike the other canvases discussed here, La Inocencia stayed in Manila for decades.  It is also very much a 20th century painting in that it was painted in Paris in 1901.  Because the Legarda-Tuasons and the Hidalgos were neighbors in old Quiapo, the Legarda-Tuason patriarch, Benito Cosme Legarda, acquired the canvas directly and ostensibly sometime in the first two decades of the 20th century.  It is not specified if Benito took ownership of the canvas in Europe or in one of Hidalgo’s rare visits home to Manila.

In one of those home visits, Hidalgo brought Maria with him to introduce her to his family.  However, it seems that his mother, Mrs. Barbara Padilla Hidalgo conveyed in no uncertain terms that she did not approve Yrritia as a suitable match for her son.  Said rejection reportedly caused Hidalgo to return to Europe quickly and visit Manila less. 

La Inocencia first resided at the Legarda residence on Hidalgo Street in Quiapo.  In 1938, shortly before World War II was to break out, La Inocencia was bequeathed to Dr. Alejandro (“Mandu”) Legarda y Roces, who moved it to his new residence on San Rafael Street in the then-exclusive San Miguel district until 2016.  There, it survived the privations of World War 2 and the dining on-lookers of the heritage-restaurant, La Cocina de Tita Moning.  When the restaurant closed in 2015, it was consigned for auction. 

La Inocencia sold for P40,880,000 (US$887,000) at the León Gallery.  That set a world record for Hidalgo.   

2017 – The National Gallery of Singapore mounts a show, “Century of Light” which features, among others, La Muerte de Cleopatra by Juan Luna, loaned and exhibited for the first time in 136 years by the Prado Museum of Madrid. 

2018 – The Spoliarium boceto surfaces.   

Having achieved an auction record with the sale of their España y Filipinas in Hong Kong in 2013, the European representing the old Castiñeira collection contacted Salcedo Auctions to inform it of the existence of a boceto for Juan Luna’s masterwork, Spoliarium, and their desire to sell.  This was enough for Salcedo executive Ramon Lerma to travel to Europe to actually view, ascertain the authenticity of the piece and conclude a consignment deal.

The Boceto (smaller study) of the Spoliarium, with Salcedo Auctions’ Ramon Lerma. Note how much more vibrant and vivid the colors and details are in this Boceto than in the original. (c/o Esquire Philippines magazine)

The Boceto (smaller study) of the Spoliarium, with Salcedo Auctions’ Ramon Lerma. Note how much more vibrant and vivid the colors and details are in this Boceto than in the original. (c/o Esquire Philippines magazine)

That sent Salcedo-Lerma on a circuitous route to try and build a provenance for this boceto.  Working backwards, Salcedo traced two possible story lines for the boceto and how several Fil-Hispano paintings of Luna and Hidalgo have ended up with the Castiñeira family all the way in Sarria, Galicia, in northwestern Spain. 

One route might have been with a Don Matias Lopez y Lopez who was Commissioner of the Spanish exhibit at the 1889 World Exposition in Paris where the Eiffel Tower also made its debut.  These paintings by Luna and Hidalgo were known to have been part of the Spanish exhibit.  Was it possible that Lopez might have acquired them at the Exposition and taken them back to Sarria?  One of Lopez’s neighbors was Don Xose Vasquez Castiñeira, who was also mayor of Sarria. Although Lopez died shortly thereafter in 1891, the physical proximity of their homes and the fact that both men were involved in civic activities of the city, would not have made it inconceivable that various objects, including the paintings, were transacted between the neighbors, or even among Don Matias’ heirs at a later time. 

Another possibility: Luna curated an exhibit at the Museo Arqueológico de Madrid in 1893 where it was documented that both the Spoliarium boceto (and Hidalgo’s La Pintura) were exhibited.  It can be conjectured that (a) the Lopez heirs and/or the Castiñeiras loaned the canvases to that exhibit or (b) Lopez’s heirs might have then purchased them from Luna after the exhibit was over. 

Later, a transfer was made from the Lopezes to Mayor Vasquez Castiñeira, then to his son Francisco Vasquez Gayoso, on to Gayoso’s widow, Maria Nuñez Rodriguez, and finally to the present Castiñeira descendant who contacted Salcedo directly. 

A pivotal and convincing detail of the  Spoliarium  boceto’s authenticity is the “Q T” marks “Bu” and “La(n),”  baybayin  (the ethnographic old Filipino/Malay script) signifying “moon.” (Luna is Spanish for “moon”) in the Ilocano dialect. Then the letter “R” just before the “1883” year mark, denotes the canvas was made in “Rome” in the year 1883, indeed—as Luna had coded his paintings executed in Rome. (Source: Rappler)

A pivotal and convincing detail of the Spoliarium boceto’s authenticity is the “Q T” marks “Bu” and “La(n),” baybayin (the ethnographic old Filipino/Malay script) signifying “moon.” (Luna is Spanish for “moon”) in the Ilocano dialect. Then the letter “R” just before the “1883” year mark, denotes the canvas was made in “Rome” in the year 1883, indeed—as Luna had coded his paintings executed in Rome. (Source: Rappler)

The boceto painting sold for Php74 million / US$1.48 million, a record sale for an “old master” (19th century) painting and second most expensive painting sold at public auction on Philippine soil, as of 2018.  

Footage of the actual bidding for the boceto:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HTUoxIQOqRU

2019 - Another boceto by Luna surfaces, locally

Which brings us up to date to 2019, some 152 years after Juan Luna’s birth.  His latest work to surface is also another boceto, for La Muerte de Cleopatra (The Death of Cleopatra), painted in 1880.  This boceto was previously owned by the late Dr. Eleuterio Pascual, a Manila art collector and Imelda Marcos confidante and neighbor in Bonifacio-Global City, Taguig—so it didn’t have to travel very far to get to the auction block.

The “Cleopatra”  boceto  (10 in x 15 in) which Juan Luna dedicated to his father per the inscription, lower left: “To my dear father, I dedicate this study/canvas of ‘The Death of Cleopatra,’” 1880.

The “Cleopatra” boceto (10 in x 15 in) which Juan Luna dedicated to his father per the inscription, lower left: “To my dear father, I dedicate this study/canvas of ‘The Death of Cleopatra,’” 1880.

Mort du Cleopatra , Jean-Andre Rixens, 1874, in the Musée des Augustins, Toulouse, France.

Mort du Cleopatra, Jean-Andre Rixens, 1874, in the Musée des Augustins, Toulouse, France.

La Muerte de Cleopatra , Juan Luna, 1881, owned by the Museo del Prado, Madrid, Spain.

La Muerte de Cleopatra, Juan Luna, 1881, owned by the Museo del Prado, Madrid, Spain.

La Muerte de Cleopatra was unabashedly inspired by French painter Jean-Andre Rixens’ artwork, 1874, but is a more melodramatic, even campier, version of same. La Muerte de Cleopatra was Luna’s silver prize-winning entry at the Madrid Exposition in 1881. The prize came with the work’s acquisition by the Spanish government, and for various reasons, it was never displayed by the Prado Museum in 136 years.  Finally, in late 2017, it was restored and loaned to the National Gallery of Singapore for the show, A Century of Light. Too bad that it didn’t travel on to the Philippines only three hours away.  However, Pascual had obtained his boceto of the same painting long before that. 

The Pascual boceto for the Prado canvas sold for Php9.3 million / US$186,000 (est).


What, Where Are The Other Surviving Hidalgo And Luna Works? 


Why are Luna paintings from around the world suddenly coming out of the woodwork?  A more appropriate question is what was lost when the Pardo de Taveras supposedly, and understandably, destroyed the Luna paintings in their possession in Paris, upon the murder of their kin?  Perhaps this will never be known.    

Hidalgo’s fame and legacy, on the other hand, as great a technician and a contemporary of Luna, have always played bridesmaid to Luna’s in renown.   Because Hidalgo lived most of his adult life in Europe and made his livelihood there, his works are more scattered but in some ways, might be more documented than Luna’s. Luna’s works and clientele were more concentrated in Manila than Spain. It’s said that several Hidalgo works were lost during the Spanish Civil War. But I think that more Luna works were lost in the Philippines during World War II. 

One otherwise unknown Hidalgo still in European hands came to light on Salcedo Auctions’ Ramon Lerma’s trip to Europe last year to secure the consignment of the Spoliarium boceto.   It turns out that the present Castiñeira heir (who wishes to remain anonymous, hence the blocking out of his face in the picture below) has hung on to this Hidalgo work, La Pintura (once again, another female subject with her face turned away) for the present time.   

Ramon Lerma of Salcedo Auctions, left, with  La Pintura  by Felix Resurreccion Hidalgo, and the anonymous owner of several Filipino paintings, at an undisclosed location in Europe. What price will it fetch if and when it is put on auction?

Ramon Lerma of Salcedo Auctions, left, with La Pintura by Felix Resurreccion Hidalgo, and the anonymous owner of several Filipino paintings, at an undisclosed location in Europe. What price will it fetch if and when it is put on auction?

Because of the internet and everybody trying to be more transparent, the hitherto scattered world of lesser-known painters (like Hidalgo) may be coming together.  Thus, the scope of existing Hidalgo’s oeuvre may become clearer—at least that’s what historian Ambeth Ocampo is working on with a new book exclusively on Hidalgo.  He opined, however, that creating a catalog raisonne for Hidalgo would be more difficult to put together than for Luna because they are more scattered. 

Demise of Hidalgo

Having been expatriates, Hidalgo, like his friend Luna, also died abroad.  Hidalgo’s last visit to Manila in 1912 was some six months with his ailing mother.  He, however, had to rush back to Europe.  In March 1913, he suddenly died in Barcelona.  Maria Yrritia, once rejected by Mrs. Hidalgo, dutifully accompanied his remains back to Manila.  (The embalming had to be so good at the time to survive a nearly three-week voyage to the Islands.)  Supposedly, the surviving Hidalgos now invited Yrritia to stay in the Philippines.  She accepted their offer but had to return to France first to close out some matters in Paris.  Sadly, Yrritia never even made it back to Europe that year.  Somewhere off the coast of South Africa, her ship was unfortunately wrecked at sea and she died. But Hidalgo’s remains were entombed at the Cementerio del Norte in Manila.

Yes, the missing masterpieces have come home to roost.  Now, if only the new, private owners will make these historic canvases available for the masses to see and appreciate the way they do in France.  After all, ars longa, vita brevis.  Art is long but life is brief.   

SOURCES:

 

https://salcedoauctions.com/

 

Email correspondence with Ambeth R. Ocampo

 

The “Nave” - https://lifestyle.inquirer.net/206702/long-lost-luna-found-in-argentina-goes-up-for-auction-in-manila/

 

http://naquem.blogspot.com/2015/09/juan-lunas-do-va-navesold-for-php40-m.html

 

https://www.rappler.com/business/personal-finance/107474-rare-juan-luna-painting-record-auction

 

https://www.esquiremag.ph/culture/recovering-juan-luna-s-lost-paintings-and-letters-a1729-20180119-lfrm3

 

https://www.philstar.com/lifestyle/modern-living/2014/09/06/1365696/long-lost-luna-comes-home

 

Cleopatra - https://www.esquiremag.ph/culture/lifestyle/filipino-travel-trends-sweetescape-a00290-20190415?ref=article_featured

 

https://lifestyle.mb.com.ph/2019/03/03/you-didnt-know-about-lunas-hunting-party/

 

https://www.bworldonline.com/2-lunas-and-a-hidalgo/

 

Spoliarium boceto:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cCp_3G7gZdw 

https://www.rappler.com/life-and-style/arts-and-culture/210947-juan-luna-boceto-spoliarium  

https://news.abs-cbn.com/ancx/culture/art/03/15/19/lunas-study-of-death-of-cleopatra-sells-for-php-93-million-at-auction

https://opinion.inquirer.net/119853/why-hidalgo-is-less-remembered-than-luna

https://opinion.inquirer.net/120528/luna-and-hidalgo-in-europe?fbclid=IwAR0hfBwd5RytdnR5VV87f8eNPB74GxkwZjQLNFbadZR4M-S76Zsi-agEcUQ

https://lifestyle.inquirer.net/288087/death-cleopatra-catch-juan-luna-exhibit-singapore/

https://lifestyle.inquirer.net/300264/top-10-expensive-philippine-art-works-sold-auction/  

La Inocencia:  https://www.philstar.com/lifestyle/arts-and-culture/2016/11/28/1646139/felix-resurreccion-hidalgos-homage-youth-and-love

Myles A. Garcia

 Myles A. Garcia is a Correspondent and regular contributor to  www.positivelyfilipino.com. His newest book, “Of Adobe, Apple Pie, and Schnitzel With Noodles – An Anthology of Essays on the Filipino-American Experience and Some. . .”, features the best and brightest of the articles Myles has written thus far for this publication.  The book is presently available on amazon.com (Australia, USA, Canada, Europe, and the UK).  

Myles’ two other books are:  Secrets of the Olympic Ceremonies (latestion, 2016); and Thirty Years Later. . . Catching Up with the Marcos-Era Crimes published last year, also available from amazon.com.  

Myles is also a member of the International Society of Olympic Historians (ISOH) for whose Journal he has had two articles published; a third one on the story of the Rio 2016 cauldrons, will appear in this month’s issue -- not available on amazon.    

Finally, Myles has also completed his first full-length stage play, “23 Renoirs, 12 Picassos, . . . one Domenica”, which was given its first successful fully Staged Reading by the Playwright Center of San Francisco. The play is now available for professional production, and hopefully, a world premiere on the SF Bay Area stages.  

For any enquiries on the above: contact razor323@gmail.com  


Published on : 11/05/2019 by Puerto Parrot

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