Mother and Child

Mother and Child
signed and dated 'Manansala 76' (upper right)
oil on canvas
71 x 91.5 cm. (28 x 36 in.)
Painted in 1976
Acquired directly from the artist in 1976
Collection of Barbara Johnson, New Mexico, USA

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Lot Essay

"When I say I am a cubist, I mean that I have taken Cubism's basic elements, reorganized them and added my own, creating my own style."
Vicente Manansala

Master painter Vicente Manansala is considered the most prolific and sought-after modernist of mid-20th century Philippine art, renowned for his signature visual of 'Translucent Cubism'. Mother and Child is possibly Manansala's most iconic subject, upon which he based a number of artworks. Painted in 1976, this present work displays the finest characteristics of this theme, portraying a young mother breastfeeding her infant amidst a working-class background. Its Catholic resonances can also be inferred, subtly recollecting the Madonna and child in the manger. Deeply nationalistic after surviving the American and Japanese occupations, Manansala sought to depict his countrymen with the dignity they deserved, through the joys, sorrows, tribulations and labors of everyday life. His visual legacy of market scenes, candle vendors, sabungeros, and the archetypal mother and child form the basis of 20th century Philippine art history and no other artist has so successfully characterized the conditions of working class life.

Mother and Child was commissioned from the artist by the Reverend James J. Johnson as a birthday gift for his wife Barbara Johnson. The Johnsons were American missionaries based in the Philippines for nearly two decades; in Cebu, where three of their four children were born, later moving to Baguio in 1970. They were introduced to Vicente Manansala by mutual friends, and visited his studio twice in 1975 and 1976 to commission and collect the artwork.

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