Asian Cultural Council Philippines Art Auction 2018

March 3,2018 | 02:00 PM
G/F Eurovilla 1, Rufino corner Legazpi Street, Legazpi Village, Makati City, Philippines

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Fernando Amorsolo   (1892 - 1972)

Noonday Meal
signed and dated 1959 (lower left)
oil on canvas
30” x 42” (76 cm x 107 cm)


PHP 3,400,000

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Acquired directly from the artist by Leland L. Gardner who first went to Manila in 1929 to work for the Manila Electric Company (Meralco). In 1941, the company sent women and children back to the U.S., but he didn't get out in time and spent the war in the Japanese prison camp for civilians at Santo Tomas. After the war he returned to the U.S. and continued to work for Meralco, first in Reading PA, then in New York City. In1958 he returned to Manila and became Executive Vice President of Meralco until his retirement in 1971, when he went back to the U.S. and settled in Florida. He brought the painting with him and it hung on his wall until his death.

When Amorsolo went to Spain as a scholar, his exposure to works of artists he admired such as Diego Velasquez, John Singer Sargeant, Impressionist Auguste Renoir, and early 20th century Spanish painters Joaquin Sorolla and Ignacio Zuloaga influenced his style.

He co-opted the Impressionists' handling of light especially Sorolla's handling of intense sunlight which became his area of expertise. Amorsolo's use of light and illumination which contrasted with the shadows; and the way he cast light on the skin of his subjects and portraits became the hallmarks of his style. However, his penchant for rural scenes and farmers; and the softness of the lines of his Realism, is similar to the French Barbizon School - an art movement which influenced the move from Romanticism to Realism. Amorsolo's choice of rural subject, his depiction of landscapes, and the composition of the scenes with rural folks were similar to Jean Francois Millet's paintings of peasants and the French farm life and landscape.
In "Bahay Kubo" we see how Amorsolo co-opted these French painting techniques and adapted them to a Filipino setting and genre. On the left side, the farmers bending over on the rice paddies are similar to Jean Francois Millet's "Gleaners". We see the intense sunlight on the farmers and the rice paddies. On the right side is a shaded darker area where a carabao is relaxing and a farmer holding a scythe is taking a break from cutting the rice stalks. His wife is assisting their toddler who is amusing her father. A lovely farm maiden, possibly a relative is cooking their lunch. The patches of sunlight and the fire gives a glow on the maiden's face. The theme of taking a break from farm work is similar to Millet's "Harvesters Resting” and "Peasants Resting". The little, fragile shanty of a "bahay kubo" is their refuge. Although they have a humble existence as farmers, there is a joy in their lives. Their feeling of contentment and happiness with what they have turns their simple life and simple meals into a feast.

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