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



25 |

Carlos “Botong” Francisco  (1912-1969)

Main Altar Baras Church
signed and dated 1955 (upper right)
watercolor on paper
15” x 11” (38 cm x 28 cm)

PHP 300,000

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Provenance: Private Collection, Manila

Long before collecting antiques became fashionable, one of Botong’s
consuming interests was to travel about the towns of Rizal and the
Laguna valley, poking like a curious child among the old churches.
He delighted in the discovery of some discarded artistic treasures
fashioned by unsung artisans. One of Botong’s devotions was to
travel about the lakeshore towns, roaming around the region’s
churches, which are some of the first built by the conquistadores
— driving a black and red V-8 Buick coupe he called “Botong’s folly.”
In Manila’s sophisticated art circles, his works were frequently likened
to that Gauguin and the Mexican muralist Diego de Rivera, whose
influences he unashamedly acknowledged. It was no secret that of all
the artists he admired and emulated, Botong held most dear artists
unknown beyond the rural confines of Rizal province. At the same
time as the year of his death in 1969, Botong had just acquired a
retablo for his collection by this same anonymous artist. Carlos Botong Francisco interprets the retablo of Saint Joseph Parish
Church (Baras Church) and in this work, Botong shows a command of
space and an equal interest in its depiction. His methods of creating
space are demonstrated in this work as seen in the receding niches with
the saints and the advancing rounded half columns, but here Botong
has added a human presence with the carefully rendered pair of praying
nuns seen from the back, the crisp delineation of shadows on their
pristine white veils produces a bold spatial statement.
It has been written about church retablos that the Spanish wanted to
show how big the Catholic faith is, to impress the natives by asserting
that the confluence of cultures comprise an even bigger picture.

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