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Juan Luna's 'Spoliarium' boceto, National Gallery of Singapore's 'España y Filipinas' come from same family

New information has surfaced regarding the provenance of 'Boceto for Spoliarium' by Juan Luna y Novicio, which further cements the authenticity of the painting.
Salcedo Auctions now has in its possession email communications from the family that sold 'España y Filipinas' at the Balclis auction in Barcelona in October 2012 under the title 'España guiando a la gloria a Filipinas,' and which was eventually resold under the title 'España y Filipinas' at the Sotheby's Hong Kong 40th Anniversary Evening Sale in October 2013, where it was acquired by the National Gallery of Singapore for its permanent collection.

The emails clearly state that both 'Boceto for Spoliarium' and 'Espana y Filipinas' all form part of a family collection that was inherited from Doña Maria Nuñez Rodriguez, the widow of Don Francisco Vazquez Gayoso, and who Salcedo Auctions had previously identified as the daughter-in-law of Don Jose Vazquez Castiñeira.

As proof of their ownership, a previously unpublished photograph clearly showing 'Espana y Filipinas' in the seller's dining room with date stamp '2005 3 20' was provided.

The same email communications in Spanish to the Balclis specialists also state that the painting came into the family's collection through the ilustrado and leading figure of the Propaganda Movement Don Pedro Alejandro Paterno, whose wife Doña Maria Luisa Piñeiro de Paterno originated from Galicia, the same province as the Vazquez Castiñeira family. It is this provenance that is referred to by Ambeth Ocampo in his entry regarding the provenance of 'España y Filipinas' in the Sotheby's auction catalogue:

"The painting was originally given by Luna as a gift to Pedro Paterno, who displayed it in his home in Madrid (called by many the “Museo Paterno”). Paterno, himself an important figure in Philippine history and the Prime Minister of the First Philippine Republic, was a patron of the Philippine expatriate community. It has been suggested that Paterno proposed the theme to Luna; Paterno was then a strong supporter of Spanish involvement in the Philippines. 'España y Filipinas' was soon acquired by a friend of Paterno’s wife, whose family retained the painting until last year."


This important discovery presents the possibility that the initial theory provided by Salcedo Auctions as to how the Vazquez Castiñeiras acquired the Luna boceto and Felix Resurreccion Hidalgo's 'La Pintura' through wealthy businessman Don Matias Lopez - Sarria neighbor and commissioner of the Spanish Pavilion at the 1889 Paris Universal Exposition - may possibly be a very serendipitous coincidence, and that in fact all of the Filipino artworks in the possession of the Vasquez Castiñeira heirs had come to the family through their connection with Pedro Paterno and his Galician wife.

Paterno, who was a known friend and supporter of Juan Luna and Félix Resurrección Hidalgo, and whose art-filled home in Madrid hosted many get-togethers which brought together the Filipino expatriate community in Spain in the 1880s-90s, is recorded in the catalogue of the 1893 'Exposicion Historico-Natural y Etnografica' at the Museo Arqueologico in Madrid as having lent works to the said exhibit. The same publication lists among the artworks exhibited: 'Espana y Filipinas,' the boceto for 'Spoliarium' and 'La Pintura' by Hidalgo - all three paintings now being confirmed as having been acquired by the Vazquez Castiñeiras at some stage and passed down by Doña Maria Nuñez through bequest before her demise in 1993 to two branches of her family, since she was childless.

The Paterno connection, in the opinion of Salcedo Auctions director Ramon Lerma, also explains and sheds further understanding on the significance of two important details of the boceto: 1) the presence of the 'baybayin,' the use of which was championed by Paterno who wished to cultivate the idea among the Spaniards that the Philippines was already a sophisticated culture prior to their arrival as proven by the existence of an indigenous alphabet; and 2) the inscription of the word 'boceto' which is consistent with Luna's practice of writing descriptions or dedications on paintings that he made for friends and family.

The 'Boceto for Spoliarium' by Juan Luna y Novicio goes on public preview as part of the 'Important Philippine Art' auction of The Well-Appointed Life starting on Thursday, 13 September through Friday, 21 September 2018, 10am-6pm at The Gallery, Level 3, The Peninsula Manila.

The Well-Appointed Life by Salcedo Auctions is co-presented by The Peninsula Manila with airline partner Singapore Airlines vernissage partner Dom Pérignon, premium event specialist GBA Events Asia, Phoenix Petroleum Philippines, Inc. makers of the official fuel for 'Rare Automobiles' Phoenix Pulse Technology, and media partner ANC-X.

For inquiries, emailinfo@salcedoauctions.com or phone +632 659.4094 | 823.0956 | +63917 894.6550.

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