Leon Gallery Highlights 19th Century Filipino Art Masterpieces

Arts & Culture

July 5, 2016 | BY Franz Sorilla IV

Significant pieces of ivory, furniture, and paintings of the 19th Century Filipino masters take the spotlight in the ongoing special exhibition at Leon Gallery entitled, “Filipinos in the Gilded Age”.

Paintings by Juan Luna, Fabian de la Rosa, Felix and Martinez among others.jpg

Paintings by Juan Luna, Fabian de la Rosa, Felix and Martinez among others

Philippines circa 1800s is a period that Filipinos deem opulent even up to now. It was a significant period of industrialization where a class of people became affluent with great success in business before the onset of the Philippine revolution. The period had a certain sense of style and class that catapulted certain privileged Filipino personalities to the global scene. This month, Leon Gallery proudly celebrates this significant period of Philippine artistic excellence with an exhibition entitled, “Filipinos in the Gilded Age,” curated by Ramon N. Villegas, Lisa Guerrero Nakpil, and Tats Rejante Manahan. 

The room in perimmon red with Batangas altar tables and ivory artefacts

Inspired by the studio of Juan Luna in Paris, the exhibition space was coloured with hues of choice during the said period. Caca d’oie became the basis for the olive green color of the walls were the paintings are hung. Underneath is yellow ochre in strie finish, parted by hand painted chair rail in marble finish. These details pay tribute to the revival of painted finishes. The room were the ivory and the furniture displayed is in light persimmon red.

A repatriation of highly coveted ivory artefacts are also on display. Back then, ivory were sourced from Thailand then brought to the Philippines. A great number of these religious ivory pieces were designed by Chinese carvers in the Philippines and were shipped to Spain. The exhibition brings home these valuable pieces of the nation’s grandeur.

A seascape painting by Felix Ressureccion Hidalgo hung on top of a Batangas altar table

An outstanding selection of antique wood furniture also take the spotlight. Not only do these pieces bring a more classical look and feel to one’s homes, but it also create a deeper appreciation for the local heritage. Among the key pieces to look forward to at the exhibit are the two Batangas altar tables with refined carving and the Manila aparador made from kamagong with lanite marquetry. These pieces hold premium resale value, transforming these unique pieces into important investments in the eyes of collectors. 

Lastly, painted portraits became prevalent as the 19th century became an age of individuality. These placed Filipino artists like Fabian de la Rosa and Rafael Enriquez in the limelight. The exhibit showcases a number of portraits and paintings by these indio bravos. One of the more important paintings that can be seen is the portrait by Felix Martinez of a figure thought to be one of the models of Jose Rizal’s Kapitan Tiago in Noli Me Tangere, then Chinese-Filipino businessman Don Alfonso Telesforo Chuidian. Another important piece is the painting by Juan Luna of a woman in black assumed to be the then Queen Regent Maria Christina of Spain. Philippine and European sceneries painted by Felix Ressureccion Hidalgo, along with other artists, can also be seen in the exhibition. 

Leon Gallery’s “Filipinos in the Gilded Age” will be exhibited by appointment viewing until July 20, 2016. Leon Gallery is located at G/F Corinthian Plaza, Paseo de Roxas corner Gamboa Sts., Legazpi Village, Makati. For more information, contact Leon Gallery at +632-8562781 or info@leon-gallery.com. Like or follow @LeonGalleryMakati on Facebook and Instagram.

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