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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59 |

Carlos “Botong” Francisco  (1912-1969)

Philippine Saga
Ca.1950s
watercolor on paper
15” x 40” (38 cm x 102 cm)


PHP 500,000

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Provenance: Given as a gift by the artist to his friend and art protégé, Perdigon Vocalan (of Angono, Rizal); Acquired from the above by Roy Ronquillo; Acquired from the above by the present owner in 2004

This study is the half of the study for a mural on plywood that was executed by Botong in the early 1950s for the Philippines International Fair held in Sunken Gardens, Manila in 1953. The said mural is nowhere to be found because history has it that after the Fair, the mural was dismantled and various pieces of it even ended up as plywood boards in certain shantytowns. Botong was not yet famous at that time and it was his first mural work. This watercolor study is the last vestige of that famed mural for the First World Fair held in Asia. This first section of a two-part study depicts the "Myth of Malakas at Maganda," the journey to the Philippines of Australoid and Sakai migrants from the South, the arrival of the Malays during the Iron Age, the Chinese expedition and the arrival of Chinese merchants on Philippine shores, the reign of Princess Urduja, the landing of Ferdinand Magellan, the first mass at Limasawa, a depiction of Lapu Lapu (the first Filipino freedom fighter), the rule of El Adelantado Miguel Lopez de Legaspi, and finally, Limahong's effort to seize Intramuros in 1574.
According to the National Library of the Philippines, Botong Francisco was commissioned by the government to create an 88 meter long and 8 meter wide mural with a theme covering "500 Years of Philippine History" for the 1953 Philippines International Fair, the First World Fair held in Asia. The mural was reportedly featured in Newsweek and Time magazines in 1953 during the Fair. Since only certain remnants of the mural have been recovered by the National Library of the Philippines and other half of the watercolor study has not surfaced (according to Roy Ronquillo, Perdigon Vocalan had said that Botong had given the second half of the study to one of his relatives who then brought it to New York), this mural study is unique and a significant artifact of Philippine history.

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