(Filipino, 1892-1972)
Mutya Ng Pasig (The Nymph of Pasig River)
signed, inscribed and dated 'F Amorsolo Manila 1936' (lower left)
oil on canvas laid on board
25 x 31.5 cm. (8 7/8 x 12 5/8 in.)
Painted in 1936
Private Collection, Florida, USA

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Lot Essay

Capturing the luminous tropical sunlight of the landscape, Fernando Cueto Amorsolo is the undisputed master of the romantic landscape genre within the Philippines. The scenes that he depicted seemed to be touched with a warm backlit glow that emphasised the golden fields of wheat, the lush emeralds of the trees, and clear blue skies that characterised the ideal image of pastoralism. A successor to the great classicists, Juan Luna, Felix Resurrecion Hidalgo, and his own uncle Fabian de la Rosa, Under the Mango Tree (Lot 225) depicts an intimate scene away from the work of harvesting in the field. A brief reprieve from the heat and activity of the day, Amorsolo captures a warm scene that highlights the relationship between family, work and community. The shade of the mango tree creates a delightful scene for Amorsolo's expert depiction of light and shadow as he perfectly balances the warmth of the sun in the background of the painting with the coolness of the shade in the foreground. As the mother figure sits half in the light and half in shadow, Amorsolo displays his mastery in artistic technique.

In scenes such as On the Way Home (Lot 228) and Harvest Time (Lot 229), Amorsolo depicts scenes that focus on the richness of pastoral life. In its composition, On the Way Home pays homage to the workers, both human and animal alike who work the lush crop fields from dawn to dusk. The mood of the painting is tranquil, and the warm palette evokes a sense of familiarity and nostalgia. Harvest Time is a similar testament to the hard work of labour. The celebration and sharing of a bountiful harvest being the reward of the entire community, bringing together all generations.

Village Procession (Lot 230) is another classic theme within Amorsolo's career - the depiction of a country village complete with traditiona 'nipa' huts, a harvest haystack, roosters, and a man riding a carabao. It appears that the procession of women carrying umbrellas and men balancing farm goods in shoulder baskets are either heading to the local market or else to Sunday church - a typical recurring scene throughout Philippine provinces. It is a warm and festive painting that shows the strength of community, and the connection of man to his environment.

A rarity in the work of Amorsolo, Capitan del Barrio (Lot 227) depicts a close portrait of what can be translated from Spanish as 'The Captain of the Neighbourhood'. Amorsolo affords his sitter with a quiet dignity as he gazes measuredly at the viewer. With the warm light illuminating the weathered features of the sitter, Amorsolo's respect for his subjects is made evident in his desire to portray them as timeless guardians of the land. The sitter in the painting is portrayed heroically, his weather-worn visage bearing untold heroics that belie a sense of humanity.

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