The titans of Philippine classical and academic art reunite in this auction

A grand auction featuring five masters will take place in the second quarter of 2023.

In 1904, the Philippines under the American colonial government participated in the Louisiana Purchase Exposition in St. Louis, Missouri. More widely known as the St. Louis World’s Fair, the event showcased idyllic representations as well as tangible manifestations of the colonial imagination of the islands. Among them were hundreds of paintings by the most distinguished Filipino artists – many of whom had been dubbed as “real masters in the world of art.”

This second quarter of 2023, five of these masters reunite through the works on offer at the forthcoming "Finer Pursuits: Important Philippine Art & Rare Collectibles" sale at Salcedo Auctions.

Like most of the participants in that fair, the Philippine contingent awarded distinctions to the most accomplished participants. Not surprisingly, the awards for the Department of Art were swept by Félix Resurrección Hidalgo and Juan Luna y Novicio — by then already big names in the art scene. They both received the Grand Prize — Hidalgo for his El Violinista and Luna, posthumously for Spoliarium — while also bagging golds, silvers, and bronzes for the rest of their works.

The first Filipinos to gain international recognition, Luna and Hidalgo had a lot in common — from their academic education to their European sojourns and to their artistic influences. More than a century later, works by both artists which were recently discovered in Spain will be going under the hammer.

Félix Resurrección Hidalgo, .jpeg
Félix Resurrección Hidalgo, A presumed study of "Columbia" for 'Per Pacem et Libertatem,' 1901, graphite on paper

Hidalgo’s work is a rare boceto that he completed in Paris around 1901. The artist is known for his drawings that eventually took form as central figures in his grandest masterpieces. Meanwhile, an enigmatic painting by Luna was recently discovered in an apartment in Barcelona. The watercolor offers an insightful glimpse into the depth of the hero-artist’s imagination, depicting caricatures or metaphorical reveries relating to the then burgeoning struggle for reforms in the  colony.

While Hidalgo’s and Luna’s works swept the awards at the 1904 Exposition, many of their contemporaries equally caught the attention of the jurors and went home victorious. Among them were today’s acknowledged masters of genre painting: Fabian de la Rosa, Jorge Pineda, and Vicente Rivera y Mir.

Juan Luna y Novicio, Untitled (Phantasmagoria), c1885-1890, oil and watercolor on paper.jpeg
Juan Luna y Novicio, 'Untitled (Phantasmagoria),' c1885-1890, oil and watercolor on paper. Phantasmagoric musings of Juan Luna y Novicio, possibly dating from the period when Luna was caught up in the throes of nationalist activism.

De la Rosa, who also won gold, silver, and bronze at the Exposition, was one of the most profound influences on Philippine genre painting, ushering it to maturity. Vicente Rivera y Mir, who won a silver medal, was also among the artists who began to capture these everyday scenes, rendering quotidian moments brimming with life. Both also became faculty members of the newly established UP School of Fine Arts, and later on co-workers and peers of National Artist Fernando Amorsolo.

Meanwhile, Jorge Pineda bagged a silver medal and an honorable mention for his works in the same Exposition. These honors boosted his reputation, catapulting him into the public consciousness as one of the colony’s most sought after illustrators--drawing for Renacimiento Filipino and designing official lottery tickets, postage stamps, and currency bills, among others.

Fabian de la Rosa, Portrait of Eulalio Carmelo, 1906, oil on canvas.jpeg
Fabian de la Rosa, portraits of Eulalio Carmelo and Maxima Casas, oil on canvas. Fabian de la Rosa is best remembered for painting landscapes, portraits, and everyday scenes. These portraits are of Eulalio Carmelo de Lakandula, founder of Carmelo and Bauermann (1887-1938) publishing house, and his wife Maxima Casas.
Fabian de la Rosa, Portrait of Maxima Casas, oil on canvas.jpeg

Hidalgo’s rare boceto, Luna’s surrealist painting, Pineda’s flowering kakawate  tree, de la Rosa’s portraits, and Rivera’s idyllic landscape are currently on offer as part the upcoming Finer Pursuits: Important Philippine Art & Rare Collectibles auction on Satuday, June 3, 2023. Think of it as a reunion of sorts — another exposition of the Philippine’s finest — but this time around, these turn of the century giants are joined by a vanguard generation of artist-successors who not only transformed but also continuously revolutionized Philippine art.

Vicente Rivera y Mir, Filipino Landscape with Cabin, River, and Woman, 1933, oil on canvas.jpeg
Vicente y Mir, Filipino Landscape with Cabin, River, and Woman, 1933, oil on panel. One of the most significant painters of the early 20th century, Rivera celebrated the idyll of the Philippine countryside, which he often illumined with the presence of a tranquil body of water.

Figurative abstractionist and National Artist Ang Kiukok headlines the Finer Pursuits auction with his imposing  oil on canvas titled Man and Dog that boasts of a sterling provenance, in addition to having a formidable publication and exhibition history. He is joined by fellow National Artists J. Elizalde Navarro, Arturo Luz, Federico Aguilar Alcuaz, and Cesar Legaspi; leading modernists Justin Nuyda, Nena Saguil, Onib Olmedo, and Constancio Bernardo; and renowned contemporary artists Betsy Westendorp, Mark Justiniani, Ramon Orlina, and Ronald Ventura, whose works are among the over 200 lots selected by the premier auction house’s specialists.

To participate in "Finer Pursuits: Important Philippine Art & Rare Collectibles" auction, visit Salcedo Auctions at