FERNANDO CUETO AMORSOLO (Filipino, 1892-1972)
FERNANDO CUETO AMORSOLO (Filipino, 1892-1972)

Rice Harvesting

FERNANDO CUETO AMORSOLO (Filipino, 1892-1972)
Rice Harvesting
signed, inscribed, and dated 'F Amorsolo MANILA - 1946' (lower right); inscribed 'RICE HARVESTING by F.C. AMORSOLO MANILA PHILIPPINES' (on the reverse)
oil on canvas
91 x 126 cm. (35 7/8 x 49 5/8 in.)
Painted in 1946
Private Collection, Missouri, USA
Donated to All Saints Episcopal Church, Kansas City, USA in 1987 by the above owner
Collection of St. Peter & All Saints Episcopal Church, Kansas City, USA

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Eric Chang
Eric Chang

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Lot Essay

Fernando Amorsolo is widely recognized as the foremost artist of 20th Century painting within the Philippines; acclaimed for a peerless realist technique honed from the best traditions of the Spanish school, broad popularity with art patrons particularly during the American occupation years, and a prolific legacy of beautifully romanticised landscapes, awash in heaven's own light. The prevalence of his works 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 succeeding generations of artists even until today. It is often commented that no Philippine artist in history has insinuated himself so successfully into the popular consciousness as Fernando Amorsolo. Genre types such as 'Planting Rice', 'Under the Mango Tree', 'Sunset at Manila Bay' or 'Harvesting' were given elegant and lucid form under Amorsolo's brush, with the dalaga or beautiful Filipino maiden as his muse. Without Fernando Amorsolo, the face of modern Philippine art would have been drastically different.
Amorsolo was born in 1892 in Paco, Manila, but spent his boyhood in Daet, Camarines Sur, amist the rice fields and abaca plantations that were to eventually grace his most famous works. His mother was the first cousin of lauded painter, Fabian de la Rosa, to whom the young Amorsolo was apprenticed at age thirteen. Under de la Rosa, Amorsolo acquired the rudiments of painting in the Spanish style, developing a mastery of portraying light and shade within a composition. This was further augmented by a period of study in Madrid in 1919, financed by art connoisseur and patron, Don Enrique Zobel. During this sojourn Amorsolo spent a great deal of time in the Prado Museum, interacting with the works of the Spanish masters such as Velasquez, Goya, El Greco and Sorolla, further refining his already formidable artistic technique. Like de la Rosa, Amorsolo was proficient in portraiture and genre scenes, and critically, displayed a rare ability to capture quintessentially Filipino elements with great skill and sophistication: a provincial vista of lush foliage, rippling rivers under rich tropical sunlight, robust workers in the field, and women in traditional native outfits or elaborate Maria Clara gowns.
The 1920s to 1940s are the decades 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, there was a steady demand for these bucolic scenes from local and foreign patrons. Patronage aside, Amorsolo himself was fundamentally an idealist, genuinely desiring to portray the most beautiful aspects of his beloved country and immortalize these moments upon his canvas for future generations.
Painted in 1946, just after the Second World War, Rice Harvesting (Lot 18) is a glorious example of Amorsolo's resplendently halcyon landscapes. It exemplifies Amorsolo's classic genre scene: the industrious native peasant at work in the fields, surrounded by earnest compatriots amidst the vast rolling splendor of the Filipino countryside. All the archetypes embraced by Amorsolo are present: the honest laborers bringing in the harvest; the nurturing female preparing a mid-day meal; the carabao as beast of burden; the sturdy trunk and spreading branches of the mango tree providing respite from the tropical sun; and of course the great sheaves of golden rice - the mainstay and sustenance of Filipino rural life.

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