For many who have grown up in a traditional Filipino home, no memory of the house is complete without a religious image or two. Religion, deeply-ingrained into the country’s culture, is also woven into the interiors of many homes in different ways - a statue of the Virgin Mary adorned with sampaguitas, a crucifix at the center of the family altar, or a painting of the Last Supper hanging in the dining area.
Now, whether it is because of culture and tradition, historical value, or simply nostalgia, religious pieces continue to be sought-after items among many Filipino collectors in the local art scene.
Recently, Casa de Memoria, the country’s premiere auction house for European fine art, hosted its 12th auction which featured many decorative art pieces including various religious artworks for the home.
The highest-selling lot of the auction was a late 19th-century Hispano-Filipino Crucifix with Ivory Cristo Expirante. It depicts a dramatic image of the Cristo Expirante or the dying Christ mounted on a graded cross decorated with silver cantoneros at the edges and intricate silver rays behind the polychrome ivory body of Christ. At the bottom part of the cross is a faded gilding of a skull, the symbol of Golgotha.
Another stunning focal point for the home altar is the Holy Land Crucifix in olive wood and mother-of-pearl. Hailing from Jerusalem, this Terra Santa crucifix features the Cristo Expirante in metal. Its cross is made out of olive wood with iridescent mother-of-pearl carvings and inlays.
Aside from unique altar centerpieces, the auction also featured religious paintings dating back to 18th century Europe.
One of the artworks was a European school painting in oil on canvas, enclosed in a silver-toned wooden frame. The painting showed the Madonna and Child holding a bunch of grapes, symbolic of Eucharistic wine.
The other was a piece entitled, the Mystical Marriage of Saint Catherine of Alexandria. The Italian school oil on canvas painting was enclosed in a profusely-carved giltwood frame. The image portrays the Blessed Virgin carrying the child Jesus on her lap, holding the left hand of Saint Catherine, while Jesus offers the latter a ring, a symbolic act of spiritual grace conferment. Kneeling before him reverently, Saint Catherine is presented with long blond hair.
Another fascinating lot sold at the auction was a set of bronze medals of the Holy Family and the twelve apostles. The 14 Portuguese commemorative bronze metals were dated to the 1970s. Two of these are signed by Cabral Antunes, and depicts reliefs of “St. Joseph with the child Jesus” and, again, the “Madonna and Child”. Inscribed at the back of both medals is a poem by Portuguese lyricist, Antonio Sousa Freitas. The rest of the set features the twelve apostles and their iconography while the reverse has inscriptions related to each of them.
These were just some of the many pieces sold during Casa de Memoria’s 12th auction. And while religious art pieces were favorites among the auction crowd, the Casa also catered to varied tastes of collectors by showcasing a wide range of decorative arts that would add old-world sophistication to any home.
Casa de Memoria’s next auction is set to be bigger and better, continuing to offer conversation-starting art pieces rich with history.
Step into the Casa de Memoria showroom at Jupiter Street in Makati City. For inquiries, visit casadememoria.com or call (02) 7720414.
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