FERNANDO CUETO AMORSOLO (The Philippines 1892-1972)
FERNANDO CUETO AMORSOLO (The Philippines 1892-1972)


FERNANDO CUETO AMORSOLO (The Philippines 1892-1972)
signed and dated 'F Amorsolo 1938' (lower right)
oil on canvas
17¼ x 24 in. (43.5 x 61 cm.)
Painted in 1938
Acquired directly from the artist.
From the collection of Ambassador and Mrs Paul V. McNutt.
Anon. sale; Sotheby's, Singapore, 1 April 2001, lot 65.
Acquired from the above by the present owner.
Sale room notice
Please note that the medium of this work is oil on canvas laid down on board.

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Mingyin Lin
Mingyin Lin

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Lot Essay

The first paintings that many Filipinos will remember are the beautifully romanticised landscapes of Fernando Amorsolo, awash in heaven's own light. The prevalence of his style of work within his native country cannot be adequately articulated, as they adorn the walls of national museums and prominent private collections; are reproduced on wall calendars, posters and postcards; and inspire a host of aspirational copyists even until today. It is often commented that no Filipino artist in history has insinuated himself so successfully into the popular consciousness as Fernando Amorsolo. Periodically, heated debates will arise within the artistic fraternity as to whether Amorsolo's overwhelming legacy is boon or bane, having paralysed the artistic sensibilities of the Filipino artists and audience for more than three decades. What cannot be denied is that without Fernando Amorsolo, the face of Filipino art would have been drastically different.

The years between 1920 to 1940 are viewed as Amorsolo's golden period, where his works were refined to the highest degree to achieve that evanescent splendour and breathtaking clarity. Indeed it is Amorsolo's aesthetic technique and inspired use of light for which he is most celebrated. His subject matters were usually derived from a few key prototypes, which he would then repaint tirelessly with only slight variations. These subjects were chosen for their dramatic potential, idyllic setting, heartwarming content, and nationalistic significance. Furthermore, a primary factor in their repetitive production was the consistent demand from local and foreign patrons who never wearied of them, which rather stultified Amorsolo's oeuvre in terms of thematic range and flexibility. Academic criticism aside, it is also true that Amorsolo himself was fundamentally an idealist, genuinely desiring to portray the most beautiful aspects of his beloved country and immortalise these moments upon his canvas for future generations.

Seascape is a glorious example of Amorsolo's resplendently halcyon landscapes. Painted in 1938, it depicts a fisher-family pulling in their boats at the end of a day's hard work. The entire composition is bathed in the majestic rays of the setting sun, suffusing the landscape with an exquisite glow. Based entirely on aesthetic treatment, it is unparalleled in evoking the pastoral beauty of the rural Philippines. This work was first owned by Paul V. McNutt, High Commissioner to the Philippines from 1937 to 1939, and later the first Ambassador from 1946 to 1947, following his instrumental role in negotiating independence for the new republic. He was also held the post of Governor of Indiana and the chairman of the American War Manpower Commission during the second World War, by which time this picture was already in his possession.


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