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.