The Salcedo Auctions has set out another paragon by the country’s most recognized artist as it marks its fifth year of selling precious artworks, valuable pieces, and collectible accessories of the highest quality.
Aptly titled The Well Appointed Life, this year’s auction highlights the discovery of of a boceto of Juan Luna’s Spoliarium, the grand oil painting dubbed as “the nation’s most cherished painting.”
Richie Lerma, director of Salcedo Auctions, explains that his team went to great lengths to check the authenticity of the boceto before it was unveiled to the public. “When a piece is brought to us, we always try to disprove any doubts that we have and we always go to great lengths. We do our due diligence before we make an attribution because we do understand that the trust of the public is most important.”
In the boceto, we get to see Juan Luna’s thoughts and visualizations as he conceptualized his masterpiece, the Spoliarium, which currently hangs in the National Museum of Fine Arts. The masterpiece, to this day, continues to amaze and intrigue Filipinos for its political allegory of agony and grandeur, reflected in the Roman gladiators dragged across the floor.
The significance of the boceto’s return to Filipino hands also resonates the First Class Medal won by the Spoliarium in the 1884 Exposicion Nacional de Bellas Artes, when the artist proved the capability of so-called indios to surpass their colonizers. The painting became a commentary for the Philippines’ situation under Spain, and was recognized not just as a form of expression but as historical representation.
This draft of the Spoliarium may be considered the most important Philippine art discovery in recent times, having been in the possession of the Vazquez Castiñeiras family of Spain prior to the current private collector.
The boceto remained in the family’s hands, maintaining a good condition through conservation, and finally prompted the current private collector to deal with the Salcedo Auctions.
“This was simply entrusted to us and it’s our role to be able to present its story and after having told that story to its fullest extent for it to go ultimately to the highest bidder,” adds Richie Lerma.
The echoes of the past define the significant role of the Spoliarium, the boceto, and all other works of art that have been passed down through generations and collectors, ultimately to show the public that the culture has never been more alive.
The Well Appointed Life is currently holding a public preview featuring the ‘Boceto for Spoliarium’ by Juan Luna y Novicio until September 21, 2018 at The Gallery, Level 3, Peninsula Manila. The auction will be held on September 22 – September 23 at The Peninsula Manila Rigodon Ballroom.