A National Artist’s Masterpiece Sells For P40.8 Million

Filipino folk life is elevated and admired in National Artist Vicente Manansala’s masterpiece.

This is an excerpt from Lifestyle Asia’s July 2023 Issue.

Depicting a bucolic scene of a Filipino family hard at work, “Pounding Rice” by Vicente Manansala has just broken records as the most expensive work of the artist ever sold in the country at P40.8 million including buyer’s premium, at Leon Gallery’s most recent auction.

READ ALSO: Wealth Of Artistic Treasures: Valuable Philippine Art In Recent Years—Including A ₱130-Million Masterpiece 

Dated 1973, the oil painting features a husband and wife, dehulling rice with a mortar and pestle, with three younger women engaged in various tasks. A grandmother sits with her straw baskets, sifting out the grain. It is a task that is both necessary and difficult requiring many hands, a homage to the Filipino values of unity within the household.

“Pounding Rice” by Vicente Manansala
“Pounding Rice” by Vicente Manansala

It is likewise a piece that holds a special significance for the artist, with a painting of the same theme having won him the top prize in 1941, at the First National Art Competition & Exhibition organized by the University of Santo Tomas.

Applying cubist constructs inspired by his trip to Paris, his “monumental figures” challenged the existing norms of his time. Nicknamed “Mang Enteng,” Manansala would in the 70’s become friends with four society ladies, including this painting’s previous owner, Delly Tambunting-Ongsiako. 

Vicente Manansala
Image via Wikimedia Commons

Hailing from an esteemed merchant family, Ongsiako’s coterie of art-loving doyennes would often visit the artist at his house-slash-studio in Angono, Rizal, becoming friends with Manansala and his wife, and collecting his art.

Read more by purchasing a copy of the Lifestyle Asia July 2023 magazine via SariSari.shopping or select newsstands in National Bookstore and Fully Booked. Subscribe to the E-Magazine via Readly, Magzter, and Press Reader.

Banner photo courtesy of Leon Gallery.

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