30 Jun2010


A recent auction of Asian art in Hong Kong saw an Amorsolo painting reach spectacular heights price wise. The rural scenes the master painted (best before 1950) are now sought after by art collectors and art collector wannabees from near and far. My mother always bemoaned the fact that she was never able to purchase an original Fernando C. Amorsolo or two in the 1950’s (already too late for the good stuff) as she repeatedly visited the studio of the master whose eyesight was already beginning to suffer from old age and his work was probably increasingly left to apprentices to complete.

Mom was at the Amorsolo studio to tour/amuse the wives of a multinational company’s executives who were visiting from headquarters abroad. Several of those “tourists” DID in fact buy an Amorsolo, more as a souvenir or quaint reminder that they had been to the other side of the planet, and the rural scenes were so charming and would look interesting in their Dallas or Oklahoma or Tupelo suburban homes. Well, how lucky are they? Those 1950’s and later Amorsolos, not even the cream of the crop, are now hitting the gavel at some USD30-40,000 or PHP1.5 million and above. At a recent Christie’s auction in Hong Kong, an Amorsolo from the early 1920’s fetched over PHP20 million! Wow.

Which brings me back to the inspiration for many of Amorsolo’s simple country settings. The only thing different in the photo above from those depicted by Amorsolo is the addition of the jeep with motorized thresher for the freshly harvested rice. Otherwise, if you look closely at the background, the locals are in the fields cutting rice, there are thatched homes in the distance, piles of hay are all over the field, and if you panned to the right off frame, there was even a carabao taking this all in. I shot this photo in Tarlac on the drive back from Baguio. Finally, a word to the unwise… don’t stand downwind and in the direct trajectory of the refuse, grasses, etc. if you suffer from hay fever. The near total constriction of my nasal passages was worth the 5 minutes observing what is such a common, and oddly peaceful and uplifting rural scene.



  1. bearhug0127 says:

    Nice painting,( er photo ) MM.

    Jun 30, 2010 | 4:21 pm


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  3. joyce says:

    my friend married one of the kids of amorsolo’s cousin and said that his paintings used to just lie around everywhere in his house. imagine if he nicked one of those! hehe. anyways, i always used to think amorsolo was overrated but seeing several of his paintings up close changed my mind. the way he colors a canvas is amazing. he really captures the countryside’s golden light.

    Jun 30, 2010 | 4:22 pm

  4. Mel Wood says:

    Ganda nga MM. Kung may photoshop ka, puwede mo i-enhance at i-print at puwede na ikuwadro. Galing!

    Jun 30, 2010 | 4:35 pm

  5. The Artist Chef says:

    Nice photo ang sarap i-abstract painting. Modern day Amorsolo-style of painting :D

    Jun 30, 2010 | 5:11 pm

  6. witsandnuts says:

    Very nice painting!

    Jun 30, 2010 | 5:30 pm

  7. mbw says:

    my late grandfather used to have a molino or rice mill…during our summer breaks, we would stay with them and whenever the farmers would bring in the rice harvest and have them milled, my skin would break to into severe rashes…however, I wouldn’t have any sign of hay fever. No wonder the farmers wear a lot of clothing when they start to put the palay into sacks.

    Jun 30, 2010 | 6:23 pm

  8. kate says:

    I would also love to own an Amorsolo painting :)

    Jun 30, 2010 | 8:43 pm

  9. tulip says:

    Wonderful picture!

    Jun 30, 2010 | 10:58 pm

  10. farida says:

    MM, I completely agree with Mel Wood. A beautiful picture worth enlarging and framing.

    Jun 30, 2010 | 11:28 pm

  11. Jody says:

    It would be better to concentrate on more provincial auction houses. Mind you Amorsolo’s art is fetching sky high results, no matter where you raise the paddle.

    Weschlers Auction House in DC is a middle of the road venue to put it mildly and yet two tiny paintings (on Sept 26, 2009) with a guide price of 1000 to 2000 dollars ended up being hammered down at 22000 dollars plus the usual commissions (perhaps 22%).

    In general art prices from China, Indonesia and indeed the Philippines are trending upwards in a really big way. I have added the details from the above auction, such as exact measurements ect. In my view someone is going to take a real haircut when Asian Art prices abate.


    Auction Date: September 26, 2009
    Realized Price:
    Estimated Price:
    $1,000 – $2,000

    Description: Fernando Cueto Amorsolo (Filipino 1892-1972)
    Portrait of a Man and a Woman: A Pair of Works
    Each signed F. Amorsolo and dated 1914 l.r.
    Each oil on paper board
    Each approximately: 5-1/8 x 3-1/4 in (13 x 8.3 cm)

    Jul 1, 2010 | 12:51 am

  12. Footloose says:

    People with lots of money may part with it any which way they like. I suggest that the most valuable lesson we may take away from looking at an Amorsolo painting is that it trains our eyes to look at the country, the countryside and the unique beauty of our womenfolks with deeper appreciation. For example, who would have paid attention at a common harvest scene like your picture above if it did not remind us first of similar ones by Amorsolo (or his generations of followers) that we have viewed in the past.

    Jul 1, 2010 | 2:59 am

  13. zaN says:

    The rice harvest shot by MM above is still too ‘in the past’ as compared to the way they harvest rice nowadays. Imagine a two-man operation, http://www.politfarms.net/?page=harvestingmilling

    That was a nice capture MM but are you sure that that is a carabao in the right side of the frame?

    I am pretty sure that had your Mom purchased an Amorsolo, you would still keep the painting and ONLY sell the piece in time of absolute desperation which will never come.

    Jul 1, 2010 | 4:05 am

  14. FM says:

    Wow indeed. My mother tried to sell her 1920’s Amorsolo a couple of years ago and could not find a buyer. Thanks to your article she’s having the painting appraised by Christie’s. Love your blog!

    Jul 1, 2010 | 4:41 am

  15. Tugashaligi says:

    Romulo Galicano does wonderful rural scenes. But frankly I find it boring that young artists are trying to copy Amorsolo and paint rural scenes.
    I’d pay a good amount of money for someone who can paint a kick-ass inasal na baboy. I’d hang that in my dining room. It would make salads more appetizing.

    Jul 1, 2010 | 9:59 am

  16. Blaise says:

    Where are the beautiful, smiling maidens? That would have completed the “modern” Amorsolo look.

    Jul 1, 2010 | 1:24 pm

  17. kittel says:

    sigh..reminds me of home.I used to play on the hay after the harvest when i was a kid…good thing I didn’t have any allergies then!

    Jul 1, 2010 | 3:15 pm

  18. Marketman says:

    tugashaligi, after all the lechons we have cooked, I would actually find a lechon painting in my dining room a bit of overkill, :) FM, Christie’s or Sotheby’s in HK or Singapore are the best places to put a good Amorsolo up for sale. Sotheby’s used to have an office in Manila that could do appraisals as well. zaN, you are right, it’s a big white bull/cow in the back end of the photo, but if I recall correctly, there was a carabao as well off-frame, but I don’t have a photo of it. Footloose, you are absolutely correct. I always found several Amorsolo’s to be sappy and saccharin sweet, but he had brilliant moments, and was one of the finest with sunlight. I so regret passing up on a chance to acquire a small Juan Luna nearly 20 years ago when I first started working in consulting and the tiny painting then was several months salary, it would have paid for a small apartment today. Jody, for some reason, a few folks have started buying up practically every Amorsolo that hits the market, hence the recent price spikes.

    Jul 1, 2010 | 4:48 pm

  19. Footloose says:

    Yes, he painted dazzling Philippine sunlight scenes like no other but he was equally adept at tame and subdued interior lighting. Quijano de Manila claimed in an article for the Orientation magazine issue of December 1974, that what really set Fernando Amorsolo apart was his unrepressed delight in depicting sensuous nudes.

    His painting of a clothed woman tending the fire under a palayok with a bamboo pipe, her face and the rest of the tableau gradually lighted only by the fire flickering out of the earthen stove and beside her a an almires and basket of what looks like ingredients for sinigang would be a marvelous jacket or end-paper for a Market Manila cookbook.

    Jul 1, 2010 | 9:58 pm

  20. Jody says:

    You are absolutely correct Marketman and certainly if one wants to sell a painting or a book at auction, Christies or Sothebys are the venues. The minimums for a single item are often quite high and of course the House fees are drastically higher.

    I attended the auction in DC and managed to buy some old China Trade paintings of the Treaty Ports. These paintings were churned out after the opium wars by Chinese painters for the tourist trade, and it was possible a few years ago to buy one for a few hundred dollars. I thought I would also snag the two Amorsolo paintings but I was elbowed out of the way by a Filipina (no more than 35) who eventually went toe to toe with a phone bidder, and eventually prevailed. I found out later that the young woman is married to a Filipino, who works as a bond trader with Cantor and Fitzgerald. I might be wrong but I am guessing that this is the demographic from where the buyers of medium range Asian art come from.

    Jul 2, 2010 | 1:21 am

  21. anna banana says:

    Wow I love the picture MM! It’s sooo good one can almost blow it out and frame it!

    Jul 2, 2010 | 7:50 pm

  22. Marketman says:

    Jody, any idea what a signed Andy Warhol Absolute Vodka serigraph or lithograph would command these days? We bought one from a “garage” sale of Jeremiah Tower (the Chef, ex-Chez Panisse) several years ago. It went from Warhol to Tower to us. :)

    Jul 2, 2010 | 10:37 pm

  23. Jody says:

    MarketmanI will not be able to get into the database until Tuesday, ( because of the 4th of July). I will be able to give you the last three or four action results from Christies and Swann Galleries here in New York City. What are the measurements and does the text come in Italian?


    Jul 4, 2010 | 4:53 am

  24. Marketman says:

    Hi Jody, it’s framed so best I can figure it is 44 x 36 inches, including the white border. Signed in wide pencil? on the lower right hand side. Poster is stamped with (c) Andy Warhol 1985 on the lower right hand edge… thanks. :)

    Jul 4, 2010 | 8:21 am

  25. Jody says:

    Marketman. I have been using Artfact as the Artnet database was still down this morning. I have been unable to find any item with the dimensions you give. This has no great significance as the Artnet database is far superior to the competition. The first item later sold in Sothebys, London for 58000 pounds on Oct 15, 2007. There seems to be enormous spreads with Warhol. I would also like to say that I am foremost a rare book guy who buys and sells art (and anything else that come my way) when opportunity arises. LOL

    I believe condition and documented provenance would add greatly to value.

    Lot 140: ANDY WARHOL (1928-1987)
    Auction House: Christie’s

    Sept 15. 2004
    Description: Absolut Vodka
    stamped with the Estate of Andy Warhol and the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts stamps and numbered 01.004 (on the reverse)
    brush and synthetic polymer on hand made paper
    31 1/2 x 23 3/4 in. (80 x 60.4 cm.)
    Painted circa 1985.
    Realised Price :16730 dollars
    Estimated: 12000-18000

    Lot 216: POSTER: D’APRES ANDY WARHOL (1930-1987) ABSOLUMENT. 1994. 68×46 inches.

    Auction Galleries: Swann Galleries
    Description: D’APRES ANDY WARHOL (1930-1987) ABSOLUMENT. 1994.
    68 1/2×46 1/4 inches.
    Condition A: wrinkles and abrasions in image; minor tears at edges. Paper.
    In 1983 Michel Roux, the CEO of Carillon, the company that imported Absolut vodka to the United States, commissioned Andy Warhol to do a painting. “Over dinner one night, Warhol tells Michel that he’s enthralled by the artfulness of the Absolut bottle . . . Warhol proposes painting his own interpretation of the Absolut Bottle . . . when Warhol was finished, Roux was as surprised as everyone else to see the ‘black’ Absolut bottle, but he loved it and thought it would make a great Absolut ad” (Absolut p. 65). The image was a smashing success and became the start of the, now-famous “Absolut Art” series. When it first appeared, the ad campaign was considered too “New Yorkish” (ibid.) and did not appear in France (this in spite of the fact that Warhol was already known in Paris for his 1983 ad for Perrier). In 1994, Paris’ Laville Bastille gallery held an exhibition of the works of twenty contemporary artists. They received permission from Absolut to use the Warhol image on their posters, which were displayed on the advertising kiosks around Paris which were reserved for advertising cultural events. Given the small numbers of these public hoardings, there was probably a very small print run of the image.

    Realised Price: 750
    Estimate: 800-1200



    Jul 7, 2010 | 1:06 am

  26. Jody says:

    Marketman I forget to add that realised price with Christies reflects price plus commission.

    I also meant to say that condition has much to do with value.



    Jul 7, 2010 | 1:14 am

  27. Marketman says:

    Jody, MANY MANY Thanks for looking this up, I missed your comments a few days ago and have just today remembered to go back and check this post. Thank you.

    Jul 10, 2010 | 8:07 am

  28. Maria Isabel Rodrigo says:

    Very nice MM! I do take similar pictures too whenever its harvest time in Ramon, Isabela for personal hobby and to quench my husband’s longing for home. Just what is it in the countryside scenes that made it very ‘Amosoloesque’? I love it.

    Mar 23, 2011 | 2:26 pm

  29. zareena talat says:

    this painting is just looking like a photo not painting.

    May 17, 2011 | 7:54 pm


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