IN THE days leading up to its The Well-Appointed Life auction, Salcedo Auctions has acquired new information on the provenance of the boceto or study for the Juan Luna’s Spoliarium which it says further establishes it’s authenticity. This information connects it to Luna’s España y Filipinas which is now at the National Gallery of Singapore.
The boceto was established to have come from the Castiñeira family, traced back to Don Jose Vazquez Castiñeira, a former mayor in Sarria, Spain in 1890, and was eventually inherited by his son and a Public Treasury accounting officer, Don Francisco Vazquez Gayoso, who married Doña Maria Nuñez Rodriguez.
Salcedo Auctions’ investigation led to a visit to the Castiñeira ancestral home in Sarria where Don Jose’s family lived. In front of their home was the birthplace of Don Matias Lopez, founder of Chocolates y Dulces Matias Lopez.
Salcedo Auctions presumes that it is through Don Matias that the connection between Luna, Sarria, and the Castiñeiras is established.
At the peak of his fame in 1889, Don Matias was appointed President of the Spanish Committee and Commissioner of the Spanish Pavilion at the Universal Exhibition in Paris.
According to newspaper articles found during the investigation, Juan Luna was among the artists who participated in the exhibit where Don Matias was Commissioner.
According to the Salcedo Auctions’ provenance hypothesis, it was Don Matias Lopez who acquired the painting from the artist.
As figures who held high positions in Sarria, Castiñeira and Matias “would have had a political, social, and professional relationship,” as quoted from the booklet by Salcedo Auctions. A transfer of ownership of the paintings is presumed to have transpired prior to Don Matias’s death in 1891 — the same period when Don Jose held office.
Recent e-mail communications between Salcedo Auctions and a family that sold Juan Luna’s painting España y Filipinas at the 2012 Balclis auction in Barcelona state that both the Spoliarium boceto and España y Filipinas were part of a family collection inherited from Doña Maria Nuñez Rodriguez, the widow of Don Francisco Vazquez Gayoso and daughter-in-law of Don Jose Vazquez Castiñeira.
Espana y Filipinas and the boceto all belonged to the family of Jose Vazquez Castineiras, and were directly inherited from his daughter-in-law, who being childless bequeathed them to her nephews and nieces,” Salcedo Auctions director Richie Lerma wrote in an e-mail to BusinessWorld.
An unpublished photograph of the painting in the seller’s dining room was provided as proof of ownership.
Espana y Filipinas was resold at the 2013 Sotheby’s Hong Kong 40th Anniversary Evening Sale. The National Gallery of Singapore acquired it for its permanent collection.
“The same e-mail communications in Spanish to the Balclis specialists also state that the painting came into the family’s collection through the ilustrado and leading figure of the Propaganda Movement Don Pedro Alejandro Paterno, whose wife Doña Maria Luisa Piñeiro de Paterno originated from Galicia, the same province as the Vazquez Castiñeira family,” a press release said.
“There can be no question regarding the provenance of the boceto for [the] Spoliarium as it also relates to the strength of the provenance and in so far as it is an element in establishing such, the authenticity of España y Filipinas. It is a highly credible provenance that these paintings share,” Mr. Lerma wrote.
As for further negotiations regarding the boceto’s acquisition, Mr. Lerma wrote, “We cannot disclose any such information at the moment. Suffice it to say that the director of the National Museum Jeremy Barns viewed the artwork at the vernissage and gave a favorable opinion of the boceto.”
The boceto’s opening price will be disclosed on auction day.
The Well-Appointed Life auction will be held on Sept. 22 and 23 at the Rigodon Ballroom of The Peninsula Manila. The preview runs until Sept. 21, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. at The Gallery of The Peninsula Manila. — Michelle Anne P. Soliman