The Emilio Alvero Aparador
Narra, Various Woods, Mirrored Glass and Brass
H: 93” x L : 54” x W: 24” (236 cm x 137 cm x 61 cm)
Opening bid: P 100,000
Workshops of Emilio Alvero and Isabelo Tampinco
Lot 18 of the Leon Gallery auction on 23 February 2019. Please see leon-gallery.com for more information.
In the early 20th century, Emilio Alvero, a Maestro de Obras or Master Builder, was the most popular interior decorator of the day. The foremost exponent of Art Nouveau in the Philippines, Alvero was commissioned to design and build the Vicente Ilustre house on Arlegui Street in Quiapo. This was followed by several mansions in Malolos, an offshoot of the remodeling he did on the Bautista-Tanjosoy House in that town. He was commissioned to paint the sala of the Lazo House in Vigan, Ilocos Sur and, in 1912, remodeled the caida and sala of the Villavicencio-Marella House in Taal for the overnight visit of Gov. Gen. Harrison. The furniture he designed for the last are the most beautiful extant. He also designed and built an Italianate mansion for Dr. Barcelona in San Juan, where he showed off his mastery of painting behind glass.
This magnificent towering narra wardrobe or aparador was commissioned by a very rich man who did not bother to count the cost as long as he got the quality he wanted. The attention given to the details and the various steps and finishes involved in making the piece inevitably produced a veritable masterpiece of the furniture maker’s art.
The cabinet stands on four turned vase-shaped feet supporting a square plinth that juts out from the carcass of the piece and is joined together by a drawer rail that serves as an apron. The plinths and aprons in front and at the sides are inlaid with a wide band of darker colored wood. A large drawer with a pair of wooden handles can be found at the bottom of the aparador, its face is inlaid with Art Nouveau designs using varicolored woods.
Above the bottom drawer is a pair of framed mirrored doors, the beveled mirrors having curvilinear heads in the Art Nouveau Style. The sides and bottom of the frames are inlaid with bands of varicolored woods, while the upper areas are inlaid in marquetry with beribboned posies.
Above the doors is a wide entablature with inlaid slats instead of moldings. A very large crest overlaid with mirrors occupies center space and is flanked on either side by a series of three crisply carved tulips which is most certainly the work of IsabeloTampinco. The sides of the entablature are also of inlaid slats and are terminated by acroteria inlaid in Art Nouveau marquetry. The carcasses of the aparador are decorated with rectilinear borders of marquetry.
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