The Spectacular Mid-year Auction 2019

June 22,2019 | 02:00 PM
G/F Eurovilla 1, Rufino corner Legazpi Street, Legazpi Village, Makati City, Philippines

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Fernando Amorsolo  (1892-1972)

Crossing The River
signed and dated 1924 (lower left)
oil on canvas board
12 1/2”x 16” (32 cm x 41 cm)


PHP 3,600,000

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Provenance: Acquired and commissioned by La Compania General de Tabacos de Filipinas / CdF (La Tabacalera) in 1924 from Barcelona, Spain. Purchased in 2006 from Tabacalera under a private collector. This painting has been on loan to the Ayala Museum since 2006.

The Philippines, as seen through the mythical eyes of Fernando
Amorsolo, may be espied in three works from the legendary House
of Tabacalera, arguably the country’s biggest and richest company
at the end of Spanish rule.
Social historian Augusto “Toto” Gonzalez writes that the "Compania
General de Tabacos de Filipinas" aka "La Tabacalera" was a behemoth
whose businesses grew from tobacco to include “abaca" (hemp),
“copra, coconut oil, sugar, shipping, and liquor.”
"La Tabacalera" established the "La Flor de la Isabela" cigar factory in
1887. It was the biggest and most modern cigar factory at the time with
the capacity for large-scale export which made Manila cigars as famous
as their Cuban counterparts.
"Compania de Filipinas" aka "Compania General de Tabacos
de Filipinas" was established 26 November 1881. The original
shareholders were the Spanish Crown and various European banks
in Spain, France, and the Netherlands. The company was even listed
on the Madrid and Barcelona stock exchanges. Eventually, it was time
for the wavering colonial government's tobacco business to be turned
over to more capable private hands.”
The oldest of the Tabacalera Amorsolos at hand is a masterpiece entitled
“Crossing the River”. It is a 1924 work that was commissioned by La
Tabacalera and became an emblem of the company — even being
utilized in an advertisement for its presence in the Barcelona Exposition
of 1929.
Intriguingly, rising in the distance from the tobacco fields are the
sprawling edifices and smokestacks of the Central Azucarera de Tarlac,
which would eventually become the Hacienda Luisita, the source of
power and privilege of Cory Aquino’s family. The Tabacalera archives say
that Amorsolo actually painted it in the open air, capturing the farmers
returning home in the late afternoon.
Gonzalez notes, “The 6,453 - hectare Hacienda Luisita spanning
3 towns and 11 villages in Tarlac province was formerly the property
of the "Compania General de Tabacos de Filipinas." where it had its
profitable sugar plantation and mill "Central Azucarera de Tarlac”.
It was sold by "La Tabacalera" to the Jose C. Cojuangco Sr. family
in 1957 because of the "Hukbalahap" insurgency problem.”
-Lisa Guerrero Nakpil

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