Will Anita Magsaysay-Ho break her own P86-million record this September?

Earlier this year, Anita Magsaysay-Ho—known for her portraits of Filipino women carrying out domestic duties—made headlines after her 1957 oil painting, “Fruit Market,” set a record-breaking sale of P86,432,000, inclusive of buyer’s premium. 

The record-setting ”Fruit Market.” Photos from León Gallery.

The feat comes two years after “Tinapa Vendors,” also painted by the acclaimed modernist (and Magsaysay-Ho’s personal favorite work), set a record price of P84 million (inclusive of premium), making it the most expensive Philippine painting at the time. 

“Tinapa Vendor”

What makes Magsaysay-Ho a darling of the auctions? It might be the sheer rarity of her works among galleries and private collections—the artist was known to only paint a handful of pieces. 

Or, it could be her penchant for egg tempera, a permanent and durable medium comprising pigments mixed with a water-soluble binding agent such as egg yolk (which isn’t to say that her oil paintings aren’t up to par; after all, her record-breaking “Fruit Market” is an oil-on-canvas work). It may also be her mastery of light and shadow to capture jovial atmospheres, which art aficionados have often praised. 

Regardless, one thing remains consistent: Magsaysay-Ho was driven to depict the essence of Filipino women in her paintings. In this year’s The Magnificent September Auction catalog, León Gallery curator Lisa Guerrero Nakpil recounts the moment that defined Magsaysay-Ho’s artistic sensibilities:

“[Vaclav] Vytlacil, [Magsaysay-Ho’s teacher,] would always tell his students, ‘Paint what you want.’ And when the young Anita produced a work showing Igorots going down a hill, it drew this comment[:] ‘I don’t care how your people dress, paint their spirit.’

[Thus began] a journey of a lifetime, painting gestures and emotions, captured in expressions and movements that have come to embody and capture the spirit of the Filipino [woman] for several generations of art lovers.”

It isn’t far-fetched to think that “Laughter,” which headlines León Gallery’s The Magnificent September Auction 2023, might break records anew. Depicting women in scarves and engaged in a joyful conversation, the 24”x20” oil-on-canvas work, signed and dated 1957, will have a starting price of P22 million. 


If it doesn’t, the work will still most likely fetch a hefty sum, if we’re going by the sale of her other paintings at previous auctions. At The Magnificent September Auction in 2021, “Egg Vendors” sold for P61,904,000.

“Egg Vendors”

Meanwhile, at The Kingly Treasures Auction in the same year, “Fish Vendors” peaked at P49,056,000.

“Fish Vendors”

All eyes will be on León Gallery this September for another year of record-setting paintings and prices.

The Magnificent September Auction takes place on September 9, 2023. Previews will be held from September 2 to 8, 2023, at León Gallery, located at the ground floor of Eurovilla 1, Rufino St. cor. Legazpi St., Legazpi Village, Makati. For inquiries, visit León Gallery’s official website, Facebook page, or Instagram account. You may also contact them at info@leon-gallery.com or +632 8856-2781.

The new lifestyle.