Unlocking the treasure trove of the âSultan of the Exquisiteâ
Leon Gallery director Jaime Ponce de Leon with the late ‘Sultan of the Exquisite’ Sonny Tinio.
Unlocking the treasure trove of the ‘Sultan of the Exquisite’
PEOPLE - Joanne Rae M. Ramirez (The Philippine Star) - October 18, 2019 - 12:00am

You may have more than just a peek into the treasure trove left behind by Martin Jesus Tadeo Imperial “Sonny” Tinio Jr., known in the cultural circles as the “Sultan of the Exquisite.”

You may actually feel, touch and own some of what’s in the trove.

Highlights of the “Leòn XIII’s Online Auction” of León Gallery this weekend are the elegant rare and prized antiques from the home of Tinio. Up for auction is a treasure trove of precious tables in all shapes and sizes of valuable hardwood, inlaid with Mother of Pearl and bone or topped in marble alongside intricately designed mirrors, art nouveau frames, wooden sculpture, and a marvelous array of meticulously crafted walking canes embellished with gold, gemstone and ivory.

Leòn Gallery director Jaime Ponce de Leon can’t help but smile when I ask him about the late Tinio, whom he said was also known as “Duque de Nueva Ecija.”

“He had exquisite and very royal taste,” recalls Jaime, whom Sonny visited for the last time in April, about three months before he passed away. According to Jaime, Sonny dropped by Leon Gallery to “say goodbye. He knew he was going.”

A man of impeccable taste and with a critical eye, Tinio, who designed Casa Manila in Intramuros, served as Leon Gallery’s consultant for antiques, artifacts, furniture, ivory, and precious metals.

“Sonny had a keen eye for the extraordinary. So, like the ones we have in the auction this weekend, they may not be intrinsically valuable, but most certainly aesthetically exceptional,” continues Jaime.

“Leòn XIII’s Online Auction” of León Gallery  is the 13th edition under the Leonexchange platform and will be held on Oct. 19 and 20 (Saturday and Sunday) starting at 11 a.m.  All bidding will be purely online at www.leonexchange.com.

Descending from a most illustrious lineage, Sonny’s grandfather from the maternal side is Bicol’s “Abaca King” Cirilo Jaucian and his father is PCI Bank founder Martin Tinio, after whom he was named. His taste for the finest things in life and his passionate search for the best, however, traced back to the richest landlord of Nueva Ecija, Gen. Manuel Tinio, the “Lion of the North,” who was the Philippine-American War’s master strategist. He had scoured the archipelago for his collection, which he didn’t only collect but also studied, documented, and shared, such that he was known in the cultural circles, too, for his prodigious memory and scholarship, which he narrated alongside the most interesting anecdotes.

As Renaissance man, he restored ancestral homes in Taal, Batangas and Kawit, Cavite; and is remembered as an antiquarian, collector, genealogist, gentleman farmer, globetrotter, gourmand, historian, interior designer, scholar, and writer.

Side-by-side the exquisite collectibles from connoisseur Martin Tinio are paintings that will be auctioned by Aleah Angeles, whose “lyrical compositions exude a warm romantic flair;” Angelito Antonio, a prime mover of Philippine action painting and extended Cubism, who was among the first batch of CCP’s Thirteen Artists Awardees; Norma Belleza, a feminist proponent of folk art; Dex Fernandez, famous for his “Garapata” trademark and an Asian Cultural Council grantee; Froilan Calayag, the muralist and designer dubbed as the “Prince of Dark Fairy Tales;” Zhou Ling, known for her feminist Earth Mother imagery in the Yunnan Art School style; Jigger Cruz, whose shocking use of color and defacement create powerful abstractions; and Juvenal Sanso, the Filipino-Spanish master acclaimed for his highly evocative impressionistic landscapes.

These visual masterpieces complete the array of collectibles on the block alongside alluring crystal and silver pieces, chinoiserie, Filipino period furniture, fine china, coffee table books, and rare photographs for a truly complete and exciting sale. 

“One can indulge his or her taste for the beautiful items at various price points at the upcoming online auction and all that from one’s armchair or boudoir. The online auction gives clients the convenience of bidding through their mobiles, tablets or laptops, without having to trek all the way to where physical auctions happen,” says Jaime. This convenience makes online auctions at lower starting bids — but no less fabulous pieces — trending.

The auction is open to the public. Previews of these lots will be at Leòn Gallery in Warehouse 14 La Fuerza Plaza, 2241 Chino Roces Ave. and at the G/F Eurovilla 1 Legazpi corner Herrera St., Legazpi Village, Makati City.

(For more information, visit www.leon-gallery.com or contact info@leon-gallery.com or call 8856-2781.)

(You may e-mail me at joanneraeramirez@yahoo.com. Follow me on Instagram @joanneraeramirez.)


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