Last ‘Botong’ reaps highest bid in León Gallery auction

Francisco’s “Camote Diggers,” an 88 x 149 cm oil on canvas, was sold at a whopping price of P23.4 million. (Photo by Genielyn Rosario M. Soriano/The Varsitarian)

THE FINAL artwork of the late National Artist for Painting Carlos “Botong” Francisco, a former professor at the old College of Architecture and Fine Arts (CAFA), was the highlight of León Gallery’s mid-year auction last June 22 in Makati.

Francisco’s “Camote Diggers,” an 88 x 149 cm oil on canvas, was sold at a whopping price of P23.4 million.

Based on Van Gogh’s “Potato Eaters,” “Camote Diggers” is an unfinished piece made sometime in 1969, just before the muralist’s death, and was meant as a sequel to his earlier work “Kaingin,” which was finished in 1945.

Works by several other big names in the country’s visual arts scene were also auctioned.

The Spanish painter Fernando Zobel’s first painting “Wheat Field with Cypresses,” was sold for P3.2 million.

“Cuidad del Pasado,” a mixed-media piece by Arturo Luz, National Artist for Visual Arts and a CAFA alumnus, was sold for P2.4 million.

National Artist and fine arts alumnus Ang Kuikok’s oil on canvas “Fifth Station: Simon Helps Jesus Carry His Cross,” was sold for  P10.5 million.

Renowned Filipino painter and Thomasian Felix Resureccion Hidalgo’s artwork titled “After the Typhoon” was auctioned off at P9 million.

“The Victim,” an oil on paper work by National Artist and fine arts graduate Jerry Elizalde Navarro, went for P300,000.

Artworks by other distinguished Thomasian artists such as Romulo Olazo, Juvenal Sanso, Hernando Ocampo and Andres Barroquinto were also sold at the auction, as were some rare historical documents and handwritten letters of Jose Rizal, Pio del Pilar and Juan Luna.

“These major auctions feature the most coveted artworks in the country,” Jaime Ponce de Leon, the gallery’s director, said. “For León Gallery, it was both an honor and a privilege,” he said.

By holding these auctions, the León Gallery, founded in 2010, aims to make museum-quality and historically important Philippine Art” accessible to the world, he said.

Holding four major auctions annually, the gallery sold approximately 150 lots in 2019’s mid-year auction.


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