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signed and dated 'F Amorsolo 1949' (lower right)
oil on canvas
74.5 x 95 cm. (29 1/2 x 37 3/8 in.)
Painted in 1949
Anon. Sale, Sotheby's Singapore, 29 April 2007, Lot 37
Acquired from the above sale by the present owner

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Annie Lee
Annie Lee

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Lot Essay


Amorsolo was born in 1892 in Paco, Manila, but spent his boyhood in Daet, Camarines Sur, amidst 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.

One of Amorsolo's favourite genre scenes, his series of works depicting men, women and children taking refuge under the wide dense leaves and thick branches of the distinctively tropical mango tree. These are intimate scenes away from the work of harvesting in the field – a brief reprieve from the heat and activity of the day, and the perfect occasion for Amorsolo to capture the warmth of the relationships that are at the heart of Filipina community. With an expert rendering of light, we can imagine the scenes occurring at different times of the day made clear by the fading light of the evening sun filtering through the leaves of the tree in Resting Under The Mango Tree (Lot 324) compared to the glaring afternoon sun of Under the Mango Tree (Lot 326).

Bathing Girls (Lot 325) displays Amorsolo's nuance and mastery of depicting the female form as he showcases their beauty from the front as well as the back. Painting from live models that posed within his studio, and later filling in the background of the scenes with resplendent views of the natural Philippine landscape, Amorsolo sought to express the symbolic fertility of the rich Philippine soil. This connection between man and nature is brought to fore in Padi Field (Lot 327) that shows the physical nature of planting rice. Amorsolo presents a people sustained by their land in a symbiotic relationship, highlighting the importance of communal cohesion and man's place within the cycle of life.

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