Up for auction: pieces of history

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ONE MAN’S JUNK is indeed another’s treasure. Such could be the case for the future owner of one of the highlighted items on sale at Leon Gallery’s midyear auction: a massive and elegant dining table with a rich — and funny — storied past.

The narra dining table — 21 feet long and able to accommodate 24 diners — was owned by Capitan Joaquin Arnedo, Pampanga’s gobernadorcillo back in the 1890s, said antique furniture expert Martin Imperial Tinio during the auction’s media launch.

Who is Capitan Arnedo? “He is famous for large-scale entertainment. [As long as] you’re well dressed and you have the money, well, you’re welcome to stay overnight,” said Mr. Tinio of the table’s first owner.

Numerous members of the upper crust and foreign dignitaries sat at the table, including the Grand Duke Alexis Alexandrovich of Russia and a Japanese prince who were both amused and bemused by Capitan Arnedo’s hospitality and opulence.

“The Grand Duke was so impressed that he gave the family a table service — with several hundred pieces of utensils — as a thank-you gift,” said Mr. Tinio.

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The Japanese prince was astonished when, after dining, the Capitan threw all the Prince’s used plates and utensils in the nearby river (Apparently, Japanese Imperial family etiquette at the times said that utensils once used should never be used again).

“The Prince was impressed by Capitan Arnedo’s gesture — but little did he know that the river where he threw the plates [into] had a net that caught up the all thrown plates,” said Mr. Tinio, laughing.

According to Leon Gallery’s Jaime Ponce de Leon, National Hero Jose Rizal was friends with the Arnedo children when he studied at the Ateneo, also dined at the table.

But why would the Arnedo clan consign this storied table to auction? Mr. Tinio speculated that the family could have a hard time deciding who would get to keep it.

RIZALIANA
There are many other Rizal-related items in the auction, too, including a rare wood sculpture of a man with a barbell, which he made during his exile in Dapitan between 1892 and 1896.

Also in auction are papers from his mother, Teodora Alonso, including court documents, letters, and her recipe for bolognese sausage written in English.

Other historically significant items in the auction are Gregoria de Jesus’ letters narrating the last days of her husband Andres Bonifacio and his brother. The full contents of these letters have never been revealed in full before.

There are also numerous paintings up for bid, notably a work by Lorenzo Guerrero, the mentor of Manila’s finest Spanish era artists Juan Luna, Felix Resurreccion Hidalgo, Simon de la Rosa, Fabian de la Rosa, and Felix Pardo de Tavera, among others; and early works by National Artist Fernando Amorsolo.

There are also works by National Artists Jose Joya, Vicente Manansala, Arturo Luz, and Federico Aguilar Alcuaz, and works by Mauro “Malang” Santos and Sanso.

Artworks by contemporary artists Ronald Ventura, Danilo Dalena, Emmanuel Garibay, Edwin Wilwayco, Jose John Santos III, and Manuel Ocampo are also up for bid.

Leon Gallery’s midyear auction will be held on June 9 at its Eurovilla I showroom in Legaspi Village, Makati City.

The lots and their details can be checked at the Leon Gallery’s website www.leon-gallery.com. — Nickky Faustine P. de Guzman

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