Conversations about: Fernando Cueto Amorsolo, 1892 – 1972, painter

What a laugh…  I grew up in my Lola Charing’s house which was proudly hung with oil portraits by THE Fernando Cueto Amorsolo.  Unfortunately, all of them, save for Lolo Augusto’s posthumous one from 1947, were from the 1950s, a period decried by serious collectors and scholars for mediocre works because of his deteriorating eyesight.  The one of Tito Willy looked specially sad;  Amorsolo had explained to Lola Charing that he was mimicking the style of Rembrandt.  It looked like Rembrandt on downers.  In any case, they were perfect for Disneyland’s “Haunted Mansion” ride.  Fearing that we grandchildren would neglect and eventually sell them, my uncle Brother Andrew donated the whole spooky lot to the various art gallery units of the DLSU De La Salle University.  They must be haunted by now.

So when I found myself in the houses of family friends with magnificent, blindingly lit Amorsolo genre paintings, I was surprised by how sunny and happy they looked, so unlike ours.



  1. Jose Galvez Tan said,

    January 4, 2014 at 6:41 am

    I personally saw 2 canvass paintings of FERNANDO J. AMORSOLO JR.and was told of 3 others done on WOOD which Junior used to pay the Doctor who treated him. The 2 Canvass painting are currently for sale.

  2. Julio Ledesma Arenas said,

    September 6, 2011 at 6:32 pm

    I have just reframed and still in it’s Bubble wrap my late mother’s Wedding Portrait by F. Amorsolo. Last Sunday would’ve been her 79th natal day_ I miss her So verily. I did say a simple birthday prayer/wish/entreaty to intercede, for Assuntas and my firstborne IF it be GodsWill. Not because it is my mom’s but even if done right after her wedding [6Aug.1950@La Salle Taft] Her youth plainly evident, the work befitting.

    To the ARTS first. Like Dons’ input which I just read now ‘HI Don must be a blast up there say hi to All and to all ‘a votre sante’. The ‘gentle giants of Taft. Manny was my classmate but like their Lola Charing a close friend of my late aunt Loreto Ledesma de Mapa; my mother eschewed arts and antiquities.

    In an interview, I have it but am to lazy or is it my Bombay Sapphire nice & flinty, and as ‘whispered to me by the Maitre d’ at the Ritz 11celsius, is as important as your ‘cut’. But I DIGRESS, she said ‘I want my children to be children_ go hither and dither, willy-nilly without having to worry about them crashing into a vase, or an objet d’ art which would be a terrible disaster; traumatize them, and most certainly give me a nervous breakdown. The only pieces of Fine Art are & where of Her as subject.

    Like her Couture I guess it helps when you get the best. Her portraits aside from the Wedding (she was 17-goingon-18..and I didnt want to study anymore..) was another by Alcuaz and the last by the recently departed Edsel Moscoso an Ilonggo. She also had and this my favorite of the lot a bust by Agustin Caedo of which Im certain Toto and or Enrique can amplify ‘His’ getting interwovern allegedly on a major story appropriate in this series. The last are a set of Pholographs done by Gyenes when he was corralled here for quite a bit and did portraits and sittings at the Hyatt for well,- them.

    Everytime she’d visit Marivi and I later Assunta & I and see another painting why are you getting when youve no more space for them. Id rather rotate them than store them Mom. And Id rather look at them than numbers at a passbook or a piece of paper that has no therapeutic value ESPECIALLY AFTER A MANIC DAY. A cocktail or a claret or samesuch and the right light and even just soaking in one piece is- as good AS IT GETS. Besides you force us as kids to trundle along all those museums and not expect some percolation or infusion c’mon. My next TASK SELF-Inflicted is how to best frame or execute her Couture as Art.

    I just went to our den kanina and saw her Queen of Jaro Portrait with her twin Lulu (sheeet I knew I forget something yesterday which was the fifth but it had relevance) lo and behold my tita is in Vancouver. Damn. The first and still only ever jointly crowned Queen of the Jaro Fiesta.

    Don was correct, she did three sittings- and his render alone of the belgian lace veil one could rapture in appreciation. It always had a delicate gossamer ethereal essence regardless of the time of day,
    nor the light or lack of- ANY EFFECT on that veil. Not even and perhaps more so, because of the de rigueur brown as a hershey bar backdrop. My apologies, to all I do terribly miss my mum.

    I shouldve been the fifth not her firstborn. Such are lifes vicissitudes;
    and Karma. My second wife was situated age wise like my mums. And their paths to their marriages also fraught with symmetries diametrically trined circumstance and attendant static. Karma IS. Para ti Mama.

    Again my apologies.

  3. January 18, 2011 at 4:31 am


    Please be reminded:

    From now on, comments with no real names, no email addresses that can be confirmed, and no reliable identity checks will no longer be allowed.

    Please upload your comment again with the required information.

    Thank you.

    Toto Gonzalez

  4. Enrique Bustos said,

    November 27, 2010 at 4:17 am

    Other Amorsolo family members who are also artist Adrian Amorsolo and Cesar Amorsolo

  5. November 17, 2010 at 1:23 am


    The portrait is certainly in his style. If it is really by him, I can’t tell from a photograph. Fernando Amorsolo signed his portraits, where is the signature? 🙂

    Toto Gonzalez

  6. November 16, 2010 at 11:59 pm

    Some people in my family say this portrait of our grandma is by Amorsolo, but my family is so vague about what inspires others into a name-dropping frenzy that one can’t really be sure about such things.

    Can anybody tell if this is indeed by Amorsolo?

  7. Enrique Bustos said,

    October 10, 2010 at 3:37 pm

    Guillermo Tolentino designed a grand Commonwealth Arch similar to the Arch de triomphe in Paris France because of world war II it was scrapped after the war the plan was revive and it was to be placed in Quezon City then our country new capital but because of lack of funds it was again scrapped

    Forgotten Triumphs
    CITY SENSE by Paulo Alcazaren

    Most historical narratives leave out unrealized plans and unbuilt monuments. Quezon City is one big unrealized dream – that of a transformation to the grand capital of a new nation. It is no wonder then that it has more than its share of monuments that did not see the light of day.

    Nationhood was a long and difficult road that took the country over half a century to achieve. Each stage was marked by great celebration. Quezon City was to have built a huge triumphal arch to celebrate the attainment of independence from the United States of America in July of 1946. The arch was designed by Guillermo E. Tolentino, premier sculptor of his day. It was supposed to have graced the rotunda that marked the intersection of Highway 54 and Quezon Boulevard, a fitting gateway to the planned new capitol complex beyond.

    Triumphal Origins
    The story of this arch of triumph actually began much earlier,On October 25, 1935, the University of the Philippines Alumni Association, under the guidance of the current UP president at the time, Jorge B. Vargas, announced its plan to construct a monument to commemorate the inauguration of the Commonwealth of the Philippines.

    Tolentino was the sculptor chosen. He was the natural choice, being connected with the university’s school of Fine Arts and having just completed the magnificent Bonifacio Monument in Caloocan. His first task was to design and build a model of the arch for approval of then President Quezon and the National Assembly.

    It did not take Tolentino long to produce the maquette. This was presented and quickly approved by Quezon and then sent to the National Assembly, which promptly passed an Act authorizing the erection of the monument in Manila.

    The cost of the monument was set at P500,000, a huge sum at the time. To raise this money, the Post Office issued commemorative stamps, which the public was enjoined to buy. P350,000 was raised in two years. Funds were short but on November 15, 1938, Mrs. Aurora Quezon laid the first trowel-full of cement on the monument’s foundation. Unfortunately, the war got in the way and a triumphal arch was furthest from anyone’s thoughts for the next decade.

    The Triumph Of Independence
    With liberation quickly came the promised independence. America was quick to rid itself of any more responsibilities and hightailed out of the country, leaving us with little of the promised aid Roosevelt had assured President Osmeña. Still we managed to pick ourselves up and rebuild the city and the country albeit almost brick by brick.

    In 1958, the idea for a triumphal arch was revived by the Philippine Historical Association. It was now intended to commemorate the inauguration of the Republic of the Philippines. Tolentino revisited the design and made appropriate changes. A new site was also selected, on the intersection of Quezon Boulevard or what is now known as EDSA.

    The arch was to be 27 meters tall, 22 meters wide and 8 meters thick. Although it may sound small by today’s standards, its scale was matched to the size of the rotunda at the intersection. The triumphal arch was, according to Tolentino, “characteristic of our native singkaban (festival arch).” The sculptor had fashioned the flat arch with rounded or streamlined edges in the Art Deco style, he did not change this basic shape.

    Supporting the arch on both sides were figures of men moving a house a la bayanihan. Tolentino meant this to signify national community and cooperation, saying that this encompassed “Christians and Non-Christians alike…” The two bases on each end would carry sculptural relief. One end would have a mother breast-feeding a child with an older one clinging to her. On the other side would be a grandmother telling stories to her grandchildren, as Tolentino put it, “narrating the achievements of Filipino heroes to the youth of the land.”

    Elevators would be provided to carry visitors up an observation deck where they could take in the vista of a young Quezon City (remember that there was no taller structure around – the Quezon memorial was to take another 15 years to build).

    Tolentino planned to further embellish the arch with bas-reliefs of outstanding historical events like Lapu-Lapu’s victory over Magellan, Rajah Soliman’s resistance to the Spanish, Bonifacio’s Cry of Balintawak, Jose Rizal’s martyrdom, the inauguration of the First Philippine Republic in Malolos, the inauguration of the Commonwealth, the last stand in Bataan and finally the inauguration of the new republic on July 4, 1946.

    The arch was meant as a monument to the Filipinos’ quest for freedom and nationhood. The triumph was one that came after four centuries as a colony. One could say that it was a monument more fitting as it symbolized collective effort, compared to those that had been built or planned at the time; that focused on heroic deeds or influence of single men like Rizal, Magellan, Legaspi, Bonifacio and Quezon.

    The arch was also a fitting landmark for the neo-classic template of Quezon City, one that had grand avenues, large rotundas and sweeping views. The city’s original planners traced their pedigrees to Daniel Burnham and the patterns on which he based his re-working of Washington DC and the original Manila Plans at the turn of the century. These plans were all evolved from models like London, Rome and Paris.

    Tolentino had visited all these cities and was impressed by them. He studied in Rome, had walked down the Champs Elysees and admired the Arc de Triomphe. He felt that the premier city of the Philippines deserved no less. Many others felt the same. Plans were being threshed out in the late 1940s and all through the ’50s for the new capitol complex in Novaliches, a plan whose grandiose proportions saw actualization only in the megalomaniacal building spree of the Marcos era (and in a different location, land reclaimed from the beaches of Pasay).

    The Triumph Of Urban Blight
    Quezon City was never fully built out as the capital. Few of the buildings planned were built. The arch was never built and exists only in Tolentino’s archives.

    The rotunda on which it was supposed to stand lasted until the 1970s. Instead of the grand arch, a sculpture consisting of two large hands shaking was put up to celebrate Philippine-American friendship. That disappeared in the onslaught of EDSA’s road widening.

    The grand vistas of Quezon Boulevard are now blocked by the MRT and other infernally -built infrastructure. The sweeping panoramas of Quezon City are today blighted by informal settlements, the spaghetti of utility wires and the patchwork of countless subdivisions punctuated by mega-monstrosities that house what today passes off for social activity and community – shopping.

    There is little today to celebrate as triumphs. People Power 1 and 2 have their memorials, but these fail as landmarks because they are neither sited prominently nor are they appreciated well under the steadily thickening layers of soot and grime that EDSA produces. Our recent triumphs seem to just be worthy of left-over roadside space, traffic islands or small donations of land overwhelmed by flyovers.

    Triumphal Failure And Hope

    I suggest then that we build triumphal arches to celebrate real triumphs and real heroes – like our overseas workers (whose sweat, suffering and dollars are keeping us afloat). We should erect monuments to the likes of Paeng Nepumeceno, RJ Bautista, Django Bustamante, and Antonio Lining. The elegant image of Mikee Cojuangco-Jaworski on Rustic Rouge would be perfect for a grand sculpture jumping across EDSA!

    We need to be reminded that if we just stop horsing around, the Filipino can succeed. And oh yes, I’ll bet Ateneans are thinking of building a Blue Eagle Triumphal Arch as we speak.

  8. Enrique Bustos said,

    October 6, 2010 at 6:10 am

    Juvenal Sansó
    Spanish by birth, Filipino at heart

    Juvenal Sanso was born in Reus, Catalonia, Spain in 1929, but moved to Manila five years later, where his family established El Arte Espanol, a wrought-iron business. The young Sanso spent his boyhood in Paco and had many wonderful memories of halcyon days swimming in the Pasig River and family outings to Montalban in Rizal.

    The blond and blue-eyed young Sanso learned to speak Tagalog fluently and freely mingled with boys his age, forming many lasting friendships, with Henry Sy, foremost among them.

    It was an unusual childhood for Sanso but as Nick Joaquin said “There were other things to remind him that he and his family were ‘different’. They didn’t go to church; not only that, the children didn’t go to school either. They were tutored at home. And though there were other Spaniards in town, the Sansos did not associate with them, being anti-Fascist.”

    When World War II broke out in the Philippines, the wrought-iron business of the elder Sanso was ruined having refused to work for the Japanese war effort. The elder Sanso then embarked on an entirely new business: he constructed horse-drawn buggies in the “dokar” style using car tires for wheels. When Liberation came, he plied the streets in a home-made bus with his son Juvenal serving as conductor on the Santa Ana to Quiapo route.

    The war years left scars on the sensitive artist’s soul. From his idyllic childhood in Manila, he experienced privations and came upon the ruins of his beloved city devastated by bombs. “I had a very traumatic experience as a result of the War. Our fortunes were destroyed, my family had to flee back and forth between Montalban and Sta. Ana, and I myself suffered severe injuries when an artillery shell blasted through our house during the liberation. I’m still deaf in one ear because of that,” Sanso said.

    This resulted in Sanso’s Black Period when he painted exclusively in black and white with gruesome imagery and hideously deformed beggars.

    Sanso’s first art teacher was Alejandro Celis. His father thought that such artistic training would be of great help when Juvenal took over the wrought iron business. But it was not to be so. The young man realized that his true vocation was not in wrought iron but in painting. He was able to persuade his father to enroll him as a special student at the University of the Philippines School of Fine Arts. It was to be his only experience of formal schooling. At the UP School of Fine Arts he studied under such professors as Fernando Amorsolo, Dominador Castaneda and Ireneo Miranda then he took special classes at the UST.

    The years 1950 and 1951 were turning points for the talented young artist. During the first year, his work “Incubus” won first prize in the watercolor category of the Art Association of the Philippines competition. He repeated the feat the following year with “Sorcerer” which won first prize in the AAP oil category. During the same year, he also won third place in the Shell Art Competition and left for further studies in Europe at the Academia di Belle Arti in Rome after establishing residence in Paris. He also enrolled at L’ Ecole Nationale Superieure des Beaux-Arts.

    Sanso held his first one-man show in Paris then came home in 1957 for his first local one-man show at the Philippine Art Gallery. He has since continued traveling extensively and holding solo exhibitions in Italy, the United States, England and Mexico and coming back to Manila regularly for occasional shows. In 1964, another significant year, his works “Leuers ” was adjudged Print of the Year by the Cleveland Museum of Art, giving Sanso the rank of previous winners like Henri Matisse and Salvador Dali. In the same year he held a major all-media one-man show at the Cleveland Museum of Art, as well as one-man shows at the prestigious Philadelphia Print Club and New York’s Weyhe Gallery.

    In 1966, Sanso had a 20-year retrospective show at the Makati Commercial Center. In 1974, a 25-year retrospective was held at the Cultural Center of the Philippines. In 1976, in commemoration of the Manila World Bank and the International Monetary Fund summit meetings, Sanso held a one-man retrospective of some 1,000 works, released a portfolio of 10 lithographs on Philippine subjects, and was the subject of a book written by Alejandro Roces. In 1989, he made a milestone by doing six simultaneous exhibits in Manila at the Metropolitan Museum, the Lopez Museum, the Ayala Museum, the Center Cultural de Espaha, the Alliance Francaise and the Finale Art File.

    In 2009, he marked his 80th birthday with a series of shows in some of the premier venues in the county such as Galerie Stephanie, Mandarin Oriental Suites in Gateway Mall in Cubao, and at the SM Art Center.

    The angst-filled grotesqueries of his Black Period which evolved into stunning surreal bouquets of faces and heads, were eventually replaced by genuine blooms which still appear, however, in the most striking shades of red, green, orange and blue. His catharsis came in the mid fifties when he spent summers vacationing in the Brittany coast with the Le Dantec family, a lifelong friendship that was a balm to his soul.

    Today, he paints in watercolor, acrylic and his favored ink and dry brush medium. He also continues to produce fine etchings in a very dynamic, strong-lined style. Sanso remains an innovative, respected and highly in demand artist today.

    As a way of giving back to the art community in his adopted country, Juvenal Sanso has played a significant role in encouraging young Filipino artists to excel in their field. From 2008 to 2009, he served as artist in residence for the Art Interaction program of the Shell National Students Art Competition.

    In 1980, Juvenal Sanso decided to come home and establish permanent residence in his beloved Manila.

    Major Awards and Distinctions

    Juvenal Sanso has won critical acclaim all over the world but of all the accolades he has chalked up in his illustrious career, he cherishes most the awards given by the three countries that have been home to him. Among these are:

    The Presidential Medal of Merit, awarded by President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo to Juvenal Sanso on May 20, 2006. It is the most prestigious award given by the Philippine government to an artist for his invaluable contribution to visual arts in the country.

    The Distinguished Cross of Isabela was awarded to Sanso by the Spanish King Juan Carlos on January 8, 2007. The award was given in recognition of his exemplary work across national boundaries. It is akin to a knighthood or to the Member of the British Empire given by the Queen of England.
    The Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres was conferred on Sanso on February 26, 2008 by the Ministry of Culture and Communications of the Republic of France.

    Sanso’s works are in the following Collections


    Museum of Philippine Art
    Cultural Center of the Philippines
    National Museum, Manila
    Ateneo Art Gallery, Manila
    Musee d Art Moderne, Paris
    Cabinet des Estampes de la Bibliotheque Nationale, Paris
    Collection de la Ville de Paris
    Museo de Arte Contemporaneo, Madrid
    Smithsonian Institution, Washington
    Rosenwald National Gallery, Washington
    Library of Congress, Washington D.C.
    National Collection of Fine Arts, Washington D.C.
    Metropolitan Museum, New York
    Museum of Modern Art, New York,
    Brooklyn Museum, New York
    New York Public Library
    Baltimore Museum
    Achenbach Foundation, San Francisco
    Chicago Art Institute
    Cleveland Museum of Art
    Philadelphia Museum of Art
    San Francisco Museum
    La Jolla Art Center, San Diego
    Rosenwald National Gallery, Washington
    Rhode Island School of Design Museum
    Allen Museum, Oberlin College
    Princeton University
    Yale University, New Haven

    Private Colletions

    Former President and Mrs. Ferdinand E. Marcos
    President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo
    President Soeharto
    Georges Auric
    Count de Sabran
    Countess Pastre
    Valerian Rybar
    Jean Francois Daigre
    Princess Chumbhot of Thailand
    Jean Cocteau
    Gabriel Dussurget
    Prince Michel of Greece
    Gian-Carlo Menotti
    William Pahlmann
    Nelson E. Rockefeller
    Isabel de Rouault
    Baroness Edouard de Rothschild
    Dunoyer de Segonzac
    Elsa Schiaparelli
    Vincent Price
    Joseph Pulitzer, Jr.
    John Newberry
    Oliver B. Jennings
    Dorothy Hales-Gary
    Mrs. Murtogh David Guiness
    Fernando Zobel de Ayala
    Alfonso Osorio
    John Schlesinger
    William McCormick Blair
    Henry and Hans Sy
    The Lopez Foundation
    Jack Teotico

  9. angelo monroy md said,

    October 1, 2010 at 7:21 am

    Re: Dr. Taddy Buyson Gonzales comment last Aug 4, 2010. RE: Fernando Amorsolo Jr. few paintings. Have one painting done by him in 1956. How few are these? Got it from our old home in Sta. Mesa Heights.

  10. Enrique Bustos said,

    September 20, 2010 at 1:34 pm


    I suggest you go to Salcedo Auctions, they may able to help you. Here is their website: . Their senior specialist on classic Philippine art is Santiago “Jack” Albano Pilar.


  11. Victor Velasco said,

    September 15, 2010 at 8:55 pm

    Thank you, Mr Bustos. This “conversations” can be an excellent source for a great series of TV docus on tracing artwork provenance. As I’ve mentioned before, the movements of these (choice) art pieces reflect well the shifts in power/influence in Philippine society.

    Imagine an episode on a commissioned-Amorsolo: from his studio to a well-decorated mansion in Iloilo to a palatial house in Manila, to a mid-century duplex in Quezon City to gated, high-fenced mansion in Forbes to a high-rise condo in Makati CBD, all the while giving us glimpses of the fun, intrigue, tensions and jubilations in those domiciles — all through the eyes of these silent artworks. This can be more fun than the expression, “if these walls can talk,” can’t it? Add to this a melange of incognito transactions in seedy places, hostile banks and corporate board takeovers, frenzied international auctions, accidents (or murders?) involving restorers, hushed rumors among framers, gallery owners, exhibit curators and museum directors.

    Now, who wants to produce? 🙂

  12. Enrique Bustos said,

    September 15, 2010 at 2:58 am

    The “Portrait of Fernanda de Jesus” by Fernando Amorsolo now belongs to Butch Campos.

  13. Enrique Bustos said,

    September 13, 2010 at 2:43 pm

    A Major Part of this came from an Article in the New York Times By CAROL STRICKLAND

    Alfonso Ossorio Born into a wealthy Philippine family his father is Miguel Ossorio and his mother is Paz Yangco daughter of business tycoon Luis Yangco the Ossorio’s founded the Victoria’s Sugar Milling Co one of the biggest sugar refinery in Asia,Alfonso graduated from Harvard in 1938 and became an American citizen in 1939 he lived most of his life in the Hamptons, where his friends included Willem de Kooning, Jackson Pollock and Lee Krasner. During World War II, Ossorio served in the United States Army as a medical illustrator,

    He was friends and patron to artists like Jean Dubuffet, Jackson Pollock and Clyfford Still. Alfonso Ossorio amassed an outstanding collection of avant-garde work Alfonso Ossorio also supported the arts by running the Signa Gallery in East Hampton from 1957 to 1960. “Ossorio” was as big a contributor to East Hampton culture as anyone who ever lived here,” said the art critic B. H. Friedman, who wrote a monograph in 1972 on Mr. Ossorio’s work

    In 1952 Alfonso Ossorio purchased the Creeks Main Estate for $35,000 and $20,000 for an additional 48 acres from Christian A. Herter, Secretary of State in the Eisenhower Administration

    The 57-acre estate with a four-car garage, dramatic oval pool, nine fireplaces and outbuildings including a studio-theater where Enrico Caruso, Isadora Duncan and Anna Pavlova performed.

    The Mediterranean villa, built for the painter Albert Herter in 1899 by Grosvenor Atterbury, architect of the Parrish Art Museum, is the largest and most spectacular estate in the Village of East Hampton, with more than a mile of frontage on Georgica Pond and a view of the Atlantic Ocean beyond.Under the Herter’s the Creeks was a showplace with extravagant Victorian gardens including a solid acre of blue irises, tended by 30 Japanese gardeners

    The Creeks, as the estate is known because of two creeks bordering the property, is a Monticello, said a realty agent, Allan M. Schneider, president of Allan M. Schneider & Associates. “It’s the most important house in East Hampton.”

    The grounds themselves, which are home to hundreds of specialty plants, shrubs and trees, are considered a living work of art, with thriving specimens of some of the most unusual and rarest conifers on earth, including trees with three different plants growing from grafts on the same tree.

    The house contains an equally spectacular mix — of major art, idiosyncratic collectibles, religious art, sculpture and statuary, “tramp” art, rarities from every conceivable corner of the world — all deftly arranged in a homelike setting.

    Mr. Ossorio spent the last 20 years of his life creating a conifer sculpture garden that, as Elaine Benson, director of the Elaine Benson Gallery in Bridgehampton, said, “is not like anything else.It’s like a theme park from another planet,” she added.

    Spending $4 million to import specimens, Mr. Ossorio “painted with trees,”He planted the trees exactly the way he would do a congregation or a painting,

    A recent American Conifer Society Bulletin called the Creeks “the eighth wonder of the horticultural world” and “the most outstanding private conifer collection in the United States, a living work of art.”

    More than 500 species of evergreens, including rare large cultivars, cover the grounds in a profusion of shapes, including vertical, creeping, weeping and spreading varieties. In a startling range of color, gold and blue foliage competes with many shades of green.

    Even in the dead of winter when other estates have that hangdog look, this place stays bright and cheerful with the brilliance of the evergreens

    More than 100 huge brightly painted sculptures by Mr. Ossorio are interspersed among the trees. Constructed of found objects like airplane fuel tanks, hubcaps, rubber tires, giant sea buoys, a hot-water heater and even cesspools, the sculptures reflect the title of an Ossorio work, “Waste Not, Want Not.” In his hands, trash became treasure.

    His works called congregations were just as eccentric and miscellaneous, made of driftwood, syringes, costume jewelry, bones, antlers, and glass eyes.

    “His work may evoke horror,” Ms. Benson said. “But it’s so artfully put together, it works.”

    For nearly 40 years, the Creeks was a hub of artistic activity on the East End, with figures like Pollock and his wife, Lee Krasner; Grace Hartigan, Franz Kline, Elaine and Willem de Kooning, Robert Motherwell, Barnett Newman and Mark Rothko attending small dinner parties or gala fund-raising concerts for 400 to benefit Guild Hall.

    “It was a magic time,” Mr. Dragon said, recalling the mansion lighted with 1,000 candles and the two miles of roads with Japanese lanterns. Champagne punch flowed freely, as costumed opera singers strolled through the rooms singing Mozart. Larger and Smaller Figures

    A longtime friend, Barbara Hale, remembered a birthday party for the sculptor Louise Nevelson. Mr. Ossorio was “always dignified, like a Buddha,” and Ms. Nevelson, “with her footlong eyelashes, looked very spectacular.”

    The Creeks did not cater just to the elite of the art world. One hot day when Ms. Hale took a class on a tour, “all the little children were invited to sit around the pool and dangle their feet.”

    Mr. Friedman and his wife, Abby, were frequent guests at the Creeks, where the dinner partners included Mrs. Douglas MacArthur; Julian Schnabel, the painter; Paul Tillich, the theologian, and Dr. Lewis Thomas, the writer.

    “Alfonso was one of the most brilliant and broadly cultured people I’ve ever known,” Mr. Friedman said. “He had an elegant generosity of a kind that doesn’t exist much any more.”

    The 6,000-bottle wine cellar and the theatrical flair made meals memorable. The table was always set with a seasonal theme like orange and black for Halloween and lavish flower arrangements. they could take a weed and make it absolutely extraordinary,” Mr. Friedman said. Featured in Magazines

    The interior of the copper-roofed house. “Alfonso did the art work and trees

    Magazines like Town and Country, Connoisseur and Elle Decor have published features on the estate, which Ronald Stein, the painter, a frequent guest with his late aunt Lee Krasner, called “the most unusual house I’ve ever encountered.”

    The walls, painted black with red-white-and-blue trim, were covered with arresting objects. “Paintings hung on the inside of closet doors,” Mr. Stein said. “Magnificent works were in various bathrooms. Incredibly beautiful Oriental rugs were piled two and three deep.”

    The decor today is just as Baroquely ornate and eclectic as the congregations and conifer collection. “The whole place is a collage,” Ms. Benson said, “a very complex work of art.”

    A partial inventory of just one small room includes an African mask, an Art Nouveau bronze, a Chinese screen, a carved ivory dragon, Victorian glass paperweights, Filipino wind chimes, fans from Sri Lanka, an Indian temple frieze and silver Victorian reflector balls.

    Elsewhere are a 15,000-volume library of rare books, six-foot elephant tusks, Waterford chandeliers, Rose Medallion porcelain, lanterns from the Grand Canal in Venice, Oceanic carved heads, a Chinese opium bed, tramp-art furniture and a dried shark. “I mixed everything, all periods and styles

    With the combination of very unusual plants and very unusual sculpture in a beautiful setting, there’s certainly no other place like it,” said Bill Thomas, education division manager of Longwood Gardens in Kennett Square

    Before Alfonso Ossorio died he offered the estate to institutions like Harvard University, the State University at Stony Brook, the Nature Conservancy and the New York Botanical Garden to prevent its being divided. But there were no buyers.

    The maintenance costs $1 million a year, and there is no endowment. Several times over the years, Mr. Solomon said, Mr. Ossorio sold Pollocks and Dubuffets to pay for the landscaping and maintenance when Alfonso Ossorio passed away it was acquired by Ronald Owen Perelman the 18th richest American, and 52nd richest person in the world, with an estimated wealth of USD$11 billion his holding includes Revlon Corp the giant cosmetics company

    Neighbors on the pond include Calvin Klein, Christopher Whittle, the publisher, and Arnold Glimcher, owner of the Pace Gallery in Manhattan.

    From the late 40’s on, Ossorio worked under the influences of Pollock and Dubuffet,His works are in major museums like the Metropolitan, the Museum of Modern Art, the Whitney Museum of American Art and the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum

  14. September 4, 2010 at 12:37 pm

    I had chance to conserve two amorsolos owned by an old lady from Greenhills San Juan who said that she got these as gifts from FC Amorsolo himself. I also met and talked to Ms. Sylvia Amorsolo, the daughter of FC Amorsolo, at the recent ManilArt at SMX. By the way, if there is anyone who might have paintings for restoration or conservation, you can count on me. I have been restoring paintings since 2001 and had a chance to study it in Rome, Italy. Websites where my latest restoration works may be seen: (type Cris_Paner in the “Search” button) (type in the email button)


    Prof. Crisencio M. Paner
    Cellphone #09094847996

  15. August 18, 2010 at 2:55 pm

    Thank you, Enrique.

  16. Enrique Bustos said,

    August 18, 2010 at 2:41 am

    “Assignment In Washington” by Eduardo Z. Romualdez.

  17. Franz Jerusalem said,

    August 15, 2010 at 6:53 am


    Are you well versed on the subject of Felix Martinez and his paintings? I have an old relief painting signed Martinez labeled at the back as “La Lechera” from 1903 depicting a Filipina in period custume holding a basket on her head with a town background. I really think this is a work of Felix Martinez and I need it authenticated.

  18. August 12, 2010 at 2:21 pm


    Please do not forget your sources.

    Thank you.

    Toto Gonzalez

  19. Enrique Bustos said,

    August 12, 2010 at 9:01 am

    History of some of the Philippine Ambassador’s Official Residence in the U.S.A and Japan

    The cream-colored, three-storey sandstone mansion located at 2253 R Street, NW, Washington, D.C., was built in 1904 by William Lipscombs & Co. for retired General and Mrs. Charles L. Fitzhugh. It was designed by Waddy B. Wood of the firm, Wood, Donn and Dunning. A namesake and descendant of a Confederate General, Waddy Wood was the architect of such government buildings as the Department of the Interior and the old State War Navy Building. The Residence is a stone’s throw from what were once the homes of four (4) former U.S. Presidents – William Howard Taft, who was the first American Civil Governor of the Philippines, Woodrow Wilson, Warren G. Harding and Herbert C. Hoover.The Official Residence became, successively, the temporary home of Clarence M. Wooley, Sherman Flint and the Czechoslovak Legation. In 1931, Republican Congressman from Illinois, Frederick Britten and Mrs. Alma Hand Weiner Britten took up residence in it. Even after Britten retired from public life in 1935, the Brittens continued to live at the Residence, and on 19 June 1941, bought the property from Mrs. Emma J. Fitzhugh, widow of General Fitzhugh.

    In 1946, Philippine Resident Commissioner in the United States and later, first Ambassador to the U.S., Joaquin M. Elizalde, negotiated for the private purchase of the Residence from Mrs. Britten, widow of the Congressman. On 14 October 1946, ownership of the mansion was turned over to Ambassador and Mrs. Elizalde.On 30 August 1949, the Philippine Government bought the property from the Elizaldes for $130,582.78. Elizalde stayed on as Ambassador until January 1952. Since then, it has been the Official Residence of Philippine Ambassadors to the United States

    During The Martial Law years then First Lady Imelda Marcos decided to lease a large private apartment along the elegant Avenue Foch for the Philippine ambassador, separate from the embassy, where she entertains her guests when she is in Paris

    In Tokyo Japan the Kudan, the official residence of the Philippine ambassador to Japan, was built in a half-hectare estate at the Chiyoda district. Business tycoon Zenzaburo Yasuda built it in 1934 following Mediterranean architecture. It features a watchtower for viewing Mt. Fuji. The Imperial Palace, which used to be the site of Tokugawa Shogunate’s castles, is located five minutes away from the residence. The Tokugawa stables were located at the Kudan site in ancient times.
    Later, the heritage history of Kudan included Yoko Ono-Lennon since her parents, heir to Mr. Yasuda, lived in this huge “noble” house. The Philippine government purchased the Kudan property for $20,000 in 1944 it was Jorge Vargas who choose the Kudan Mansion Jorge Vargas is the Chairman of the Philippine Executive Commission during the Japanese Occupation he later donated most of his art collection to the University of the Philippines to form the Jorge Vargas Museum.the Kudan mansion’s colorful sakuras (somei yoshino) or cherry trees encircle a huge garden, the first of which, by the gate, commemorates the release of Japanese prisoners from Muntinlupa by President Ramon Magsaysay in 1954. Its beautiful pink blossoms aptly symbolize the renewed friendship between the Philippines and Japan after World War II. The Kudan property includes the mansion with its huge music room, diplomatic room, dining room, bedrooms including the Macapagal guestroom, the collection of Filipino paintings, and the shrine garden

  20. Victor Velasco said,

    August 12, 2010 at 4:25 am

    Speaking of the diplomatic corps: in the US, I met a former staff of IRM who claimed he was part of a committee tasked to decorate Philippine consulates and embassies around the world with cultural artifacts and artworks by Philippine masters and then-younger-artists (who are highly collectibles now). He also decorated some of the mansions of IRM’s friends, most of whom demanded to have their living rooms look like the stage designs of CCP opera productions — but that’s another story. (Some of them may be following this blog; I assure you I have neither malice nor judgment in my post, just sharing a story.)

    The day after the Marcoses fled the Palace, this designer said most artworks also disappeared from the consulates and embassies. Later, some of them turned up in private and public auctions. He further claimed that whenever he goes back to Manila and gets invited to the houses of his former clients, he knows exactly which of the masters in the wall came from which consulate and embassy.

  21. Presy Guevara said,

    August 11, 2010 at 3:48 pm

    The Philippine Ambassador’s residence on R Street NW, Washington DC, has a few Amorsolos. Distinctly identifiable is a scene showing a family of farmers, with baskets of their harvested fruits, resting under the shade of a mango tree. The most prominent piece is the picture of a bare-chested Filipina sitting among the rocks by a small river framed by bamboo trees behind her. The captured light over her head, shoulders and arms are characteristically his impressionistic style. What’s catching of this painting are her subtly draped folded legs that looked longer in proportion to her arms. The way they were rendered show some lack of attention from the artist. One might think it was not Amorsolo who finished the lower limbs. They even looked a bit masculine. Another striking piece is a copy from Fabian de la Rosa of farmers in a rice field. It is aptly and labled in Spanish as a copy on the lower right hand corner of the canvas and dated 1934. Perhaps someone can offer the story behind these works.

  22. Enrique Bustos said,

    August 8, 2010 at 12:25 pm


    From what i heard in the grapevine that Gallery is owned by Banker Carlos “Chukie” Arellano

  23. Joel Cruz said,

    August 6, 2010 at 3:44 pm

    There was an art gallery in Megamall that had just recently closed—the space right next to the comfort rooms at the far end of Bldg. B (I think) on the fourth floor, with all the galleries.

    Browsing around, I saw two Amorsolos on separate occasions just last year before it closed. One was a rather dark and IMHO poorly rendered circumcision scene on a river. Another one was grander yet visibly wanting of restoration or cleaning—a large, beautiful portrait of a very beautiful woman. I asked the shop keeper and she murmured it was a portrait of a Planas lady—obviously not Charito, but I’m not sure which of her other sisters.

  24. Dr. Taddy Buyson Gonzales said,

    August 4, 2010 at 9:58 pm

    Fernando Amorsolo JUNIOR was also a painter in the footsteps of his father.

    Unfortunately he died young, leaving very few paintings.

  25. Victor Velasco said,

    August 2, 2010 at 10:22 pm

    The Fernanda de Jesus portrait was the front cover of the exhibition catalogue for 100 Years of Philippine Painting, held in 1984 at the Pacific Asia Museum in Pasadena, CA. It was listed as a piece from the collection of Tony Nazareno (of the Antique Dealers Association of the Philippines?). It last surfaced to the public at the 2002 Christie’s HK auction and got a final hammer price plus buyer’s premium of $377,947.00. Who got it? It’s fun tracing provenance. And in the constantly-shifting sand dunes of Philippine economy and politics, the movements of these art pieces reflect the movement of our history — which are less of big movements and more of frantic stirrings. 🙂

  26. Ipê Nazareno said,

    August 2, 2010 at 7:17 pm

    In 2001, it was sold at auction at Christie’s in Hong Kong to an undisclosed buyer. 9 years after, it still holds the record for an Amorsolo sold at auction.

  27. August 2, 2010 at 5:37 pm


    The portrait of Fernanda de Jesus is one of the most beautiful Fernando Amorsolos ever.

    Where is it now?


    Toto Gonzalez

  28. Myles Garcia said,

    August 2, 2010 at 5:24 pm

    Well, what about Juvenal Sanso and the sculptor Guillermo Tolentino?

  29. Enrique Bustos said,

    August 2, 2010 at 5:08 pm

    I hope there will also be discussions about Juan Arceo, Felix Martinez, Severino Flavier Pablo, Telesforo Sucgang, Miguel Zaragoza and Lorenzo Guerrero.

    Another old rich Modernist Painter like Fernando Zobel and Alfonso Ossorio is the late Lee Aguinaldo he is an important pioneer of the modern abstract movement in the Philippines

  30. Ipê Nazareno said,

    August 2, 2010 at 2:47 pm

    My favorite Amorsolo is the Fernanda de Jesus portrait.

  31. Myles Garcia said,

    August 2, 2010 at 5:02 am

    Victor, I stand corrected. Obviously, my memory fails me often now.

    I really thought it was much higher; it looked like a very high quality Amorsolo.

  32. August 1, 2010 at 8:23 pm


    Alfonso Ossorio. Of course, he is considered a major Filipino artist.

    We were about to stop discussing Filipino painters with Victorio Edades, since too many artists have mushroomed since then. But now that you mentioned Alfonso Ossorio, perhaps he merits a discussion too…

    Toto Gonzalez

  33. Victor Velasco said,

    August 1, 2010 at 6:57 pm

    *I mean the Amorsolos in the US are being sold — not bought — by children of American GIs.

  34. Victor Velasco said,

    August 1, 2010 at 6:56 pm

    The Antiques Roadshow Amorsolo was estimated between $25,000 and $35,000. The record is online. A lot of Amorsolos are coming out in the US market lately. They were bought mostly by children of American GIs who once resided in the Philippines, are now passing away and have passed their pieces to their children who don’t have any emotional or historical connection with the pieces. Even portraits of American ex-expatriates are turning up. A corporate-looking portrait of a Mr Magnuson got sold for about $6,500. Interestingly, another corporate portrait done by Edades is being sold online for the about $6000 but no takers for a month now.

    Toto – I’ve been a lurker in this site for a while now, since the time Alex Castro’s blog brought me here. I tremendously enjoy your postings and get equally amused by the comments. I think you are the only blogger I know who gets a lot of comments by just posting titles. How about that?

    I’m very much interested in your series on conversations about Filipino artists. It is rare to get an insider view of what the moneyed elite – the ones who can actually afford national treasures – think about these pieces. Any conversations about Alfonso Ossorio, he who himself came from money, close friend of Jackson Pollock, subject of George Platt Lynes’ photographs and supposedly one of those who established the South Hamptons?

    Thanks much.

  35. July 31, 2010 at 4:08 am


    Hi there!!! I’ve been wondering where you were!!! So you’ve been traipsing the world, as usual. Tell us more about your latest wanderings. 🙂


    Toto Gonzalez

  36. Myles Garcia said,

    July 30, 2010 at 3:43 pm

    A largish Amorsolo landscape onced appeared on the US version of “Antiques Roadshow” like five years ago. It was evocative of his best work: bright and colorful. If I remember right, that one was appraised at around $80,000.

    Speaking of Larry’s inflight Amorsolo story, I just got back Prague, Greece and Paris, and no one is Business (nor First) was showing any Amorsolos or art work. But a picture “How to Train Your Dragon” was great!! 🙂 🙂

    Prague was humid; Greece, of course, was a scorcher, but I got to see the Lighting of the Flame at Olympia (for the new Youth Olympic Games which open in Singapore in about 9 days). BTW, Toto, it is Berthillon (with an “h”).

  37. July 29, 2010 at 10:34 pm


    Hi!!! Where have you been all this time??? I’ve been wondering where you were…

    Great to have you back!!! We need your input about the families of Old Batangas and we need an input solely on the political Leviste family.


    Toto Gonzalez

  38. July 29, 2010 at 10:04 am

    My favorite Amorsolo painting story is when I flew to Los Angeles with BFF Francis Belling Marquez in the 70’s. We visited Connie Apacible Lichauco who was in First Class, we were in Business and on her lap was this painting wrapped in brown paper, asked to why she was cradling it on her lap, Connie explained her Mom’s explicit orders for her to do so.

    At one point deep into the night flight, she showed it to us, in the pin reading light light of a PAL jet, there was the famous postcard picture of a woman in 40’s Filipiniana blowing on a tube to heighten the glowing coals under a claypot on a clay lutuan. The flames in the fire, looked so real.

    Amorsolo dipped his paint brushes in light.

  39. Josh Moya said,

    July 27, 2010 at 6:47 pm

    How i wish i can buy grand Amorsolo paintings of my own… my mom has one but it was sooooo small. Just as big as a computer monitor. She keeps it on her bedroom. Well… maybe i can paint one of my own and sell it… (as if i have the talent)

  40. July 27, 2010 at 6:32 pm


    Great to hear from you!!! I missed Tito Ado’s birthday lunch because schedules were piled one on top of the other. I was with Tats at dinner last Tuesday and she told us that you two had dinner the week before and that you looked great, she also mentioned that Ugi was recovering well; we were all happy to hear that!!!

    Yes, those Fernando Amorsolo portraits of your grandparents are beautiful. The tension is palpable in your Lola Charing’s portrait. Can you imagine if your Lolo Sening and Lola Charing bought a truckload of Fernando Amorsolo canvases???


    Toto Gonzalez

  41. Don Escudero said,

    July 27, 2010 at 10:30 am

    Hi Toto. Missed you at Tito Ado’s lunch. Lolo and Lola’s life-sized Amorsolo portaits, commissioned for their silver anniversary in 1948 are both well done. You have pictures of them in one of your earlier blogs. Lolo sat once, said “Take a picture” and never came back. Lola religiously came back for a total of 12 sittings, and it shows in the brushwork and the treatment of the subject which became almost abstract. The further you get from her face, the less detail there is, so that her face and skin glow against her brown terno and dark orange background. Her fan and diamond jewelry and hands are merely impressionist daubs of paint. Lolo’s is a competent likeness, well painted but no drama. Lola regretted not having accepted Amorsolo’s offer to do portraits of her children for P200 each, and her pick of his paintings at P20 each! The portraits had already cost P800 apiece. so she felt guilty about spending more. Sayang.The moral of the story: It pays to sit for your portrait, and keep an open mind about buying art. Imagine how many Amorsolos she would have had. Unfortunately, paintings were not something she liked to collect, she who collected everything else…

  42. July 27, 2010 at 5:34 am


    Please be reminded:

    From now on, comments with no real names, no email addresses that can be confirmed, and no reliable identity checks will no longer be allowed.

    Please upload your comment again with the correct information.

    Thank you.

    Toto Gonzalez

  43. Alicia Perez said,

    July 25, 2010 at 6:33 am

    Imelda Cojuangco as Audrey Hepburn? More like Nancy Kwan! Ha ha ha!

  44. Enrique Bustos said,

    July 25, 2010 at 1:33 am

    The portrait of Imelda Cojuangco is now in the Central Bank of the Philippines art collection. They say the reason why Imelda Cojuangco did not like the finished portrait was because when she commissioned Fernando Amorsolo to paint her, she requested him to make her look like Audrey Hepburn in the movie “Roman Holiday.” But Fernando Amorsolo would not, or could not, grant her request.

  45. Adrian Lizares said,

    July 25, 2010 at 1:02 am

    Though it is the common consensus that the later years has reduced the vigor of Amorsolo’s works I have seen fantastic portraits emerge from this era as well.

  46. Enrique Bustos said,

    July 25, 2010 at 12:22 am

    The portrait of Imelda Cojuangco is now in the Central Bank of the Philippines art collection. They say the reason why Imelda Cojuangco did not like the finished portrait was because when she commissioned Fernando Amorsolo to paint her, she requested him to make her look like Audrey Hepburn in the movie “Roman Holiday.” But Fernando Amorsolo would not, or could not, grant her request.

  47. Dr. Taddy Buyson Gonzales said,

    July 24, 2010 at 12:08 am

    My last personal visit to Mrs. Maria Amorsolo, early 1970’s in their house in Sta. Mesa Heights, I saw an oil portrait of a lady in a terno, half body length, unframed, by the staircase landing.

    I asked who it was of and Mrs. Amorsolo replied it was Imelda Cojuangco’s portrait and she did not like the finished work, she did not get it.

    It had been sitting there for years already. It was up for sale.

    I am wondering what happened to that. Regardless of who it was, it was a portrait of a Filipina in a terno, well done.

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