Lot #036

Fernando Amorsolo

Portrait of a Lady
signed and dated 1958 (lower right)
oil on canvas
42” x 31” (107 cm x 79 cm)
Starting Bid : Php 300,000
HP + BP : Php 116,800
Provenance Private Collection, USA
Some of the best painters in history have dedicated themselves to capturing the look of a well-dressed man or woman, and this work is Fernando Amorsolo’s attempt to catch the personality of the model as much as keeping within the 19th century tradition of retratistas in Philippine art. In true retratista spirit, Amorsolo embellishes the dress with what looks like embroidery. The face and neck are subtly lit on one side, producing a soft contrast between light and shadow, and a sense of rounded form that cannot be captured if frontally lit. Fine brushstrokes give the face a character as well as a tinge of vitality. Ochre highlights suggest roundness and solidity of features of the face and shoulders, while the eyes, nose and mouth are rendered with soft precision. Amorsolo does not relax over the tiniest of detail. Instead of the usual transparent bodice common to family matriarchs, she wears a dress of thicker material but with exquisite open calado embroidery, summing up the opulence of high-society during the fifties. The earthy green in the background provides a sense of depth to emphasize the radiant face and the textured qualities of the fabric. Aside from the sitter’s beauty, the portrait conveys wealth with its access to material refinement.