When the Spaniards arrived in the Philippines in 1521, the colonizers used art as a tool to propagate the Catholic faith through beautiful images. With communication as a problem, they used images to explain concepts behind Catholicism and tell stories of Christ’s life and passion. Paintings was exclusively for the churches and for religious purposes. Occassionally used for propaganda. Tagalog painters Jose Loden, Tomas Nazario and Miguel delos Reyes, did the first still life paintings in the country.
They were commissioned in 1786 by a Spanish botanist to paint the flora and fauna in the country. The earliest known historical paintings in the Philippines was a mural at the Palacio Real in Intramuros entitle “The Conquest of the Batanes” dine in 1783 which was destroyed during the 1863 Earthquake. ————————————————- Secular subject matter in painting increased tin the 19th century, with more tourists, ilustrados and foreigners demanding souvenirs and decorations from the country. ————————————————-
Fernando Amorsolo was officially the first National Artist of the Philippines. He was given the distinction of National Artist for Painting in 1972. Several Filipino painters had the chance to study and work abroad. Among them were Juan Novicio Luna and Felix Resureccion Hidalgo who became the first International Artists when they won the gold an silver medals in the 1884 Madrid Exposition. Luna’s Academic Painting “SPOLIARIUM” won gold medal. It showed the dead and dying Roman Gladiators being dragged into the basement of allusion to Imperial Spain’s oppression of the natives.
Though Winning the gold medal, Luna was not awarded the Medal of Excellence, the top award for the competition, because he was a Filipino. The King of Spain, commissioned luna to paint “The Battle at Lepanto” In the same competition, Felix Resurreccion Hidalgo won the solver medal for his Virgenes christianas expuestas al populacho. The feat of Luna and Hidalgo caught the attention of Dr. Jose Rizal, the Philippine’s National Hero, that in a gathering of Filipinos in Madrid, he gave a speech prasising Luna and Hidalgo for their mastery and nationalism. Turn of the century
In-demand portraitists during the American period (1900-45) included Fabian dela Rosa, Miguel Zaragoza (not related to Jessa), Teodoro Buenaventura, Jorge Pineda and above all, Fernando Amorsolo, whose style would dominate the period, Fernando Amorsolo and their family moved from Daet, Camarines Norte to Manila when his father died (Pedro Amorsolo) to live with a first cousin, painter Fabian de la Rosa. To raise money, young Amorsolo sold watercolor postcards to a bookstore, 10 cents a piece. He was awarded honorable mention in drawing and painting in Liceo de Manila.
Rice planting – Amorsolo’s first important painting and one of the most popular images of the Commonwealth period. Amorsolo designed the logo for Ginebra San Miguel (Markang demonyo) depicting St. Michael vanquishing the devil. Fruit Gatherer, 1950 Princess Urduja Ina at anak Bombing of Intendencia 1942 Defense of a Filipina Woman’s Honor 1945 Antipolo Fiesta (1947) 4 days after he died due to diabetes, arthritis and heart condition, President Ferdinand marcos conferred on Amorsolo the title National Artist for painting. Art Appreciaiton: Looking Beyond, by Ronnie Pasigui, et al