Page 1


PAINTER OF THE AMERICAN PERIOD This is the first fully illustrated monograph on a Filipino artist.covering the lifeworkofthemost popular Filipino painter in history. The story of his life is placed in context with the turbulent period in w hich he lived. from t he four:lding of the Katipunan to the en d of World War II. unt il his de&th. in 1972. The monograph focu ses on the period which sha p~ the art of Amorsolo. whi ch essentially covers the Am erican ' c cu~tion of the country. The rise to fa me and the declining years are viewed within the relationship betw een artist and societ . Writes the author: "M y motive is not to creat e a flesh-andblood likeness but rather to document one Filipino artist in a highly significant period of painting in the Philippines. The relationship ofthe society and the artist. of socio-historic events and the resulting art are the light and shadow of this portrait of Amorsolo. The question this monograph focuses on is not really whether one likes or dislikes Amorsolo paintings but rather the rise and decline of a painter inextricably tied up with the history of Philippine painting ; the symbiotic give-and-take between art and society . between a painter's work and his public being most apparent in Amorsolo." The 235 illustrations. 114 of which are in color. were carefully selected from more than 400 exam ples and cover Amorsolo's earliest known works from 1914 to his recent paintings of the 60路s. Here is the story of the painter who represented the American period . the giant of Philippine painting who brought the realism of Velasquez to a point that culminated in controversies with the rise of the Philippine modern art group.

FILIPINAS FOUNDATION Established in 1961 under the provisions of Republic Act No. 2067 or the National Science Development Board Act. the Filipinas Foundation . Inc . is a non-profit . non-political. nonsectarian corporate entity devoted to humanitarian. scientific. educational. and philanthropic purposes. It was organized through endowments from the principal stockholders of Ayala Corporation . One of the principal projects undertaken by F ilipinas Foundation. Inc. was the establishment of the Ayala Museum. Inaugurated on June 20. 1974. it seeks to bring Philippine history and cultu re clo er to t he heart and mindsofthe F- ~ pino nation. A rt being a principa l ex ponent of culture. it is in keeping with its rsison d 'StrlJ for t he Ayala Museum co participate in the pu bli cation of "A morsolo: 1892- 1972':. a book depicting the life an d wo r ~,s of one f t he reat e t Filipi 0 painters: Fernando Amorsolo.

Published by Filipinas Foundation, Inc_ Printed by Vera-Reyes, Inc. Philippines and Toppan Printing C~. (H.K.) Ltd. F'ust Printing. 1975.


P. 0 , lOX 3364. MANIL A . PH ILIPPINES nLS. S04JIS • 592915 • 516569


AMORSOLO , (1892-1972)

1. Self 路 Portrait

2. Detoil showing Amorsolo signoture

18 .It 20 . oil an canvas 19.42. Courtesy of Mrs. Fernanda Amorsolo

... . . . . .

., . ; . " 1'}




' ~RAR"

On th e cover: Deta il. Woman with a Bango. 1922. All me a su re ments are g iven in inches. W idth precedes height. Photograph y by Ben Laxina

To the memory of my father, Rafael F. Races who introduced me to the paintings of Amorsolo as well as Amorsolo the man.

FI LIPINAS FOUNDATION Establi shed in 1961 under the prov isions of Republic Act No. 2067 or th e Nati0nal Sc ience Develop me nt Bo ord Act, the Filipinos Foundation, Inc. is a non -p rofit, no n-political, non -sectar ia n cor po ra te e nti ty devote d to hum nitar ian, scientific, educa tio nal , and phi la nthropi c pur poses . It wa s organ ized through endo w ments from the principal stockholders of Ayala Corporation. One of th e p ri nc ipal projects undertaken by Fil ipin os Fou ndat ion, Inc. was the establishment of the Ayala Mu seum . Inaugurated on June 20, 1974, it seeks to bring Ph ilippine history and culture close r to the he arts and minds of the Filipino no tion. Art being a principal ex ponent of culture, it is in kee ping w ith its raison d'â‚ŹHre for the Ayalo Museu m to participate in the publication of "Amorsolo: 1892-1972", 0 boo k depicting the life and works q,f one of the gre a test Filipino pointers: Fernando Amarsolo.

Š Copyright Fili pinas Foundation, Inc. 1975 All rights re erved. 0 part of the content of this book may be reprod uced without the written permi ion of the author and the publis her. Pri nted by Vera-Reyes, Inc. Philippines and Tappan Printing Co. (H .K.) Ltd . First Printing, 1975.


TABLE OF CONTENTS Preface I. Prologue II. A Painter in the American Time

9 12 16

A Memory of Ricefields An Iberian Interlude View From the Top Sunset Years

III. The Artist in His Studio IV. An Amorsolo Gallery v. Epilogue Catalogue Chronology Bibliography Acknowledgments

130 138 190 200 203 205 208

prece ding pages 6 路7 3. Winnowing Rice 39 x 26路314 . oil on canvas 1933. Courtesy of Mrs. Im elda Romu oldez Marcos

this page 4. Figure Study

9路1/2 )( 14-1/ 4 - conte on paper 1920. Courtesy of Jorge Vargos Filipiniono Foundation poges 10 - 11 5. landscape 7-314 x 4路3/ 4 . oil on wood ponel 1917. Courtesy of Mr. luis Aronela



PREFACE This is a monograph of an artist in the context of his times. Criticisms against Amorsolo are confronted; his follies and excesses discussed along with his best features and moments of triumph. There is no intent to flatter, and most certainly none to downgrade. Quite simply I would like it to be a portrait, "warts and all", of one artist living in a specific society through trying moments in history. This is not therefore the life story of a personality, of his loves and his intimate thoughts and feelings. Such a biography should be written by someone competent in personal narratives. It is limited to the artist in Amorsolo; and the events in his life, or around him, pertinent to his art. His painter friends, for example, are barely mentioned because they hardly had much to do with the dynamics of his art. It seems the art milieu was not in terms of movements, but rather the artist working in isolation; getting together with friends was largely for social purposes. Similarly his role as art teacher has been minimal as far as any direct effects on painters who studied under him. His teaching activity is not elaborated on. My motive is not to create a flesh and blood likeness but rather to document one Filipino artist in a highly signii1cant period of painting in the Philippines. The relationship of the society and the artist, of socio-historic events and the resulting art are the light and shadow of this portrait of Amorsolo. The question this monograph focuses on is not really whether one likes or dislikes Amorsolo paintings, but rather the rise and decline of a painter inextricably tied up with the history of Philippine painting; the symbiotic give and take between art and society, between a painter's work and his public being most apparent in Amorsolo. Going over more than four hundred paintings and drawings for the pictorial content demanded being selective. Amorsolo's weaker paintings have been deleted in favor of his better pieces because he should be judged in this light. I assume responsibility for the personal selection but I do not claim every single work catalogued in this monograph is authentic Amorsolo as forgeries raise a problem that only careful, scientific scrutiny of the particular work in question can determine. Effort has been made to check authenticity through sources. As much as possible various aspects, various developments are shown pictorially to give a complete viewpoint and a look at his chronological development. The emphasis has been to provide a representative sampling with partiality towards what are regarded as his better works. My sources have been diverse, with the published material listed at the end of the book. For more fluid reading I have not used footnotes, but direct quotes are all from the listed bibliography, the source when possible indicated in the text. Some sources were originally in Spanish or Tagalog, however, and I have taken the liberty of translating these. A. R. R.

PROLOGUE hen Fernando Amorsolo died of heart failure on April 24, 1972, funeral ceremonies were held at the Cultural Center of the Philippines, with both the President of the Republic of the Philippines, Ferdinand E. Marcos and his First Lady, among those delivering short eulogies. The title of "national artist," a ftrst distinction for Filipino artists, was posthumously confe rred on him. The Manila Symphony Orchestra under the baton of Oscar Yatco played, while the U.P. Madrigal Singers sang fmal farewells. Hundreds of artists and friends came to accompany the body of the much-loved artist to its fmal resting place. Some weeks after, when a posthumous one-man show of his paintings was shown at the Gallery One in Greenhills, attendance was so heavy that the exhibit had to be extended for a week. Without doubt Amorsolo was the most popular painter in the Philippines. School children became familiar with his paintings of Philippine views through reproductions in their textboo ks. Many a humble nipa hut in the countryside, or makeshift shanty in an urbanized town, was brightened by a calendar showing colored reproduc tions of Amorsolo paintings. His paintings were even reproduced in postage stamps. His original works are displayed in private mansions and public edifices. In this sense, he was a household word. His vision of the rustic scene was of gentle, romanticized wo men in what today seem like th eatrically native costumes, gathering mangoes. or planting rice. While it was the portrayal of his subjects in nostalgic poses, suffused with sentiment, th at accounted for his popular appeal, Amorsolo's genius was as master of light and color. A highly skilled draftsman, Amorsolo invariably chose backlighted subjects, probing with color into the deepest shadows and topping off his composition with chrome yellow lights to accent contours where the backlight struck. It was the combination of solid drawing, rich and vibrant color, and nostalgic rural subject that was the Amorsolo appeal.



Actually his subjects varied, for Amorsolo was a master portraitist, as well as being much sought-after to depict historical events. One could say that the Amorsolo paintings appealed to those who were nostalgic-about the happy, rustic, days of ftestas and glowing sunsets in the countryside (or "the province" as they were referred to then), of grandiose moments of national history, or simply of one's own personal image through a portrait painted at a successful moment in life.

6. He a d Study N o doto. From the ph oto collection on the orti st.

page 14 - 15 7. Sale of Ponoy for a Golden So/akat 51.1/2 x 34-314 - oil on can vas Undated. Courtesy of Ayala Co rporation

0rsolo was an extremely prolific artist. His wife and children treasure scrapbooks bulging with drawings, notes made by the Amorsolo hand while watching an event, or working out a compositional problem. People, trees, Japanese soldiers during the dark days of World War II, and so on, were jotted down on pencil and paper. One private collector, Don Luis Arane ta, has a whole screen divider studded with on-thespot studies in oil by Amorsolo. His swift, color, brush-notes, what older Filipino artists call "bosetos", are remarkable worh in themselves. Active as a painter from the time he was six teen, Amorsolo through his fifty years of incessant painting had an undocumented but definitely vast numbe( of paintings. The last war, however, destroyed many of his works; one particular painting being a portrait of his first wife which he personally considered among his very best works.


Honors have been heaped upo him, an honorary doctorate in humanities fro~ the Far Eastern University and the Rizal Pro-Patria, a prestigious national award. Art prizes came earlier, of course, from his teens. He was director of the UP School of Fine Arts from 1939 until his retirement in 1952. Amorsolo's influence, through his paintings and as an art teacher, made him undisputed dean of painters before the war. His influence lingered long after World War II , and still continues through a school locally known as the "Mabini painters." A whole generation of painters followed in his footsteps, to the point where incompetent imitators have run his style to the ground today. Another generation, particularly in the post-war years, emerged in direct reaction to his pervasive influence, and sparked what is called the Philippine "Modern Art" movement of today. It is hard to think of so gen tie a person, soft-spoken, exuding old-world charm and courtesy, as the center of controversy ; but once he had reached the renown th at made him a oneman academy (so that even younger artists who had returned from abroad bringing with them

new ideas of the post impressionists fell under his spell) a rebel storm began to brew. Juan Arellano introduced impressionist ideas and became a solitary modernist of his time. Later, a painter, Victorio Edades who returned from studies in New York where he imbibed the influence of th e "Ash-Can School", held an exhibit in 1928. A controversy of sorts then raged in the newspapers over the merits of modern art. But only in the post-war years did the tide turn against wh at was viewed as the acadernism of the Amorsolo style. Throughout the disputes, Amorsolo never really involved himself one way or the other. The noisy war was waged by his followers who called themselves "conservatives" against those who called themselves "modern" artists. But Amorsolo himself never publicly spoke for or against modern art, conservative art, or his own painting. Like his paintings, Amorsolo was gentle. He was unmindful of sneers and unmoved by praise. With the "Modern Art" movement secure these da,ys, Amorsolo's art has finally been viewed less passionately, and from farther back. He is now secure in his niche. His detractors of the time, th e so-called "modernists" have themselves become dated and identified with the past, having ftrst derived th e post-impressionist influences of Gauguin and Cezanne and subsequently the cubists and he abstract expressionists, while a new generation has since emerged who are abreast with environmental art and the latest from New York, Tokyo, London, Germany. Whatever one's judgment of Amorsolo's art in the context of modern painting today, I think it should be noted that Fernando Amorsolo in his prime was the dominant artist of Western-style painting probably in the whole of Asia; some artis ts in Asian countries today are still striving for the mastery of western painting that Amorsolo fully possessed in the 20's. The significance of Amorsolo makes him a figure in Philippine art impossible to ignore. He dominated the scene for at least three decades, from the 20 's to the 40 'so He reflected the popular sentiment and aspirations of his time.



A Painter In the American Time

A Memory of Ricefields


he sweet scent of country in Amorsolo paintings is nostalgia for the idyllic rural life of Amorsolo's boyhood years in Daet, Camarines Sur. Seven months after he was born in Paco, Manila (May 30, 1892) the family had moved to the country . His father worked as a bookkee per for a commercial firm in Daet. Amorsolo spent the fIrst 13 years of his life playing in the midst o f bucolic rice fIelds and abaca plantations. At five, th e toddler consumed his father's pencils and papers drawing. Though somewhat angry, his father was understandfug enough to provide his son with his own supply of paper and pencils. The boy delighted his friends by making drawings to paste on their kites. He copied pictures fr om calendars. To amuse himself, he sketched animals, seascapes and landscapes. Later he drew th e guardia civil in the streets of Daet or he sat b y the wharf drawing the large ships on the water. Later still the Filipino revolutionary soldiers beca me exciting subjects for his pencil. In 1903 , when Amorsolo was eleven, his fath er died of a .h eart attack leaving the family destitu te. After two years of trying to feed growi ng children his mother brought the family to Manila where job opportunities and help from relatives seemed more hopeful. Amorsolo's mother, Bonifacia Cueto, was the first cousin of the noted painter, Fabian de la R osa. She used to send some of Amorsolo's early drawings to him. It was therefore in Don Fabian's house in Dulungbayan, Manila that she and her six boys sought refuge. She accepted embroidery work. Her older boys found employment with the new American government, one at the post offIce and another with the bureau of agriculture. And so it was that at the ,age of 13, Amorsolo found himself in the house and studio of the eminent


.--...路",1.----' _.- ._"..-

8. Illu stration for Philippine Readers 5路1/ 4 )( 2 pen & ink on bristol board 1932. Courtesy of Am orsolo Esto te. 9. Illustration for Philippine Readers 4-3/ 4 )( 4-1/ 4 - pen & ink on br istol board 1932. Courtesy of Amorsolo fam ily

painter of the time, Don Fabian de la Rosa. He made himself useful in the studio and learned rudiments of painting. Young Fernando helped supplement family income by painting watercolor landscapes on blank postcards for a bookstore at ten centavos a piece. In the next three years he furthered his previous three years' formal education in the public school in Daet by being admitted as a scholar at the Liceo de Manila where he obtained honors. Exis ting certificates state he had obtained " ... . el tercer premia en la asignatura de A ritmetica", another "eZprimer premia en la asignatura de trabajos manuales" (1906) and of course a cer tificate of "primer premia en la asignatura de dibujo y pintura" in 1907.


he first fifteen years of Amorsolo's life were lived in a rather turbulent period . The last years of the Spanish Regime had been restless and tension-filled as events moved towa rds a series of national upheavals. More than three centuries of Spanish dominio had ended while, almos t overnight, the American Regime was established. In July of 1892, just two months after Amorsolo was born, a secret organization dedicated to the violent overthrow of the Spanish colonial government was founded. When the La L iga Filipina was organized by Rizal in a house in T ondo (July 3) leading to his arrest three days later and deportation to Dapitan, Zamboanga, it in turn preci pitated the founding of the Katipunan the followi ng day (July 7) by Bonifacio. Four years later, in August of 1896, the Katipunan was exposed and th e armed revolt began. Rizal was tried and shot in December of that same year. Although Amorsolo was only four and could hardly have been very aware of these sweeping events particularly as he was in Bicol, his community could not have overlooked the execution of 12 Bicolano rebels on January 4, 1897 (referred to in history as the Twelve Bicolano Martyrs). In an interview with Nick Joaquin, (Free Press, Homage to the Maestro; February 1, 1969) Amorsolo recalled: "We were then in Mercedes town . One night my father was awakened by


opposite above to. One of various certificates awarded to Amarsolo for drawing and pointing at the Licea de Manila. opposite below 11. A photo of Fabian de 10 Rosa. with whom Amorsalo apprenticed when he first come to Manila. De 10 Rosa subsequently become head of the Fine Arts Departm ent of the University of the Philippines this page, right t2. " EI 82" sold art supplies. Artists of the time often met here. and it served a s on art gallery. It was founded by Roman Ongpin and later managed by by his son. Don Alfon so Ongpin. who owned the finest calledion of Philippine paint ings and drawings .

below 13. A detail from a Carlos Francisco mural depicts histori es events. from the founding of the Katipun an to the martyrdom of Jose Rizal. the some turbulent period of Amorsolo's boyhood. Courtesy of Manila City Hall


14. Illustration for Philippine Readers 4-1/ 4 )( 7 pen & ink on bristol board 1932. Courtesy of Amorsolo fam ily

opposite right 15. An Old Peninsula Man 13-3/ 4 )( 10-1/2 oil on canvas 1926. Courtesy of Mr. Luis Araneto

shouts outside and he looked out ~ e window. Down in the street was the local revoluti<!m ary chief and he shouted to my father: 'Send Perieo do wn to us.' Perieo was my half-brother, one of th ,: three children my father had by his first wife. I saw Perieo putting on his shoes. My father did not want him to go but the revolutionary chief insisted ; so Perieo went down to join them and we never saw him again." Continued Joaquin in his article: "After the failure of the '96 uprising, Perieo was among the rebels captured by the Spaniards and executed. 'Somebody told us he had seen Perieo being taken to jail, his elbows bound together, a bamboo pole strapped to his back. Then my father, too, was arrested and I went with him to the jail in Daet . We rode on horseback and spent the night in jail. The next day we were released. Sinusubukan lang pala kami." Amorsolo was six when the events of 1898 unfolded: the blowing up of the Maine (February 15) signaling the Spanish-American war; the American intrusion into Philippine history with Admiral Dewey steaming into Manila Bay, destroying the Spanish ÂŁleet, and subsequently returning


Aguinaldo to Cavite from his exile in Hongkong to reignite the frustrated uprising of '96. Early the following year (February 4, 1898) US Private William Grayson while on guard duty, shot a Filipino soldier, giving the cue for the American military conquest. Two years later (April 19, 1901), a defeated Aguinaldo appealed to Filipinos to accept "the sovereignty of the United States". The Philippine Commission established a centralized public school providing free primary education in 1901. The coming of the Americans to Daet provided Amorsolo with three years of public school set up by the Americans. Previously he had only the benefit of a private tutor who taught him to read and write in Spanish. By the time Amorsolo went to live in Manila with his mother and brothers, political parties had already been formed : the Federalista first, followed by the Naciona1ista Party (1901) and the Partido Democrata (1902). He was barely two years in Manila when the Philippine Assembly was inaugurated with Sergio Osmeiia as 'Speaker and Manuel L. Quezon as Majority Floor Leader. Amorsolo was then fifteen and studying at the Liceo de Manila.


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THE ARTIST IN PRINT 16. Cover for a tourist handbook. no doto. 17. Reproduction of Amorsolo's mural "Ang Awit:' From Liwoywoy Magazine 18. Reproduction of Amorsolo's mural "Ang Sayaw:' From Liwoyway Magazine 19. Covet of Graphic Magazine show ing on Amorsolo work. March 23, 1933. 20. Cover of Philippine Education Magazine with on Amorsolo pointing. June 1928. 21. Advertisement for the MorqueHe pointed by Amorsolo which oppeared in The Sunday Tribune Magozine 22. Cover of The Sunday Tribune Magazine with on Amorsolo pointing. March 9, 1930. 23. Cover of Sompogita .depicting on Amorsolo Carn ivol Poster. January 193.4. 2.4. Poster study for the Manila Carnival February 16 to 24th, 1924. 25. Poster study for the Manilo Carnival February 15 to March 2, 1930 .


1934 lO st.. 23

left 26. Figure Study 39)( 23-1/ 4 . oil on canvas 1914. Courtesy of Mr. Fran cis co Aguinaldo

right 27. Span ish Wom an 8-1/ 2 x 12-3/ 4 - colored pencils on poper 1920. - Cour tesy of Mr. & Mrs. Antonio Aroneto

A TOUCH OF WATER 28, Flores 5 x 8 . watercolor Undated. Courte sy

or Cr isty


29. Pink Rose 5 x 8-1/ 4 - watercolor 1915. Courtesy of Cristy Amorsolo

30. 1I0ng-lIong and M o rn ing Glory 5 x 8-114 - wa tercolor Unda ted. Cour tesy of (fisty .Amorsolo 31. Flores 6 x 9 - watercolor 1911. Cour tesy of Mr. & Mrs. Antonio Atonelo 32. Profile of a Spanish W oman 10-1/ 4 x 13-1/ 8 - watercol o r 1919 Co urtesy o f Mr & Mrs. Antonio Atenelo

33. Study of a Country loss 5 -1/2)1t 4-1/ 4 - watercolor Undated. Courtesy of Amorsolo family.

~~~~_________________ 33


estiges of the Spanish Regime were crumbling while the pillars of the American colonial government were going up. The concept of a national identity planted into the Filipino psyche by Rizal and other ilustrados made it easy to push aside the trappings of Spanish culture; but it also created the resistance to total Americanization. From the PhilippineAmerican war to the period of nationalistic writings and seditious plays of the early 1900's to the subtle political squabbles, the pertinent note was an acceptance of the American occupation and US technology but a tenacious and purposeful retention of Filipino identity. Among the Spanish underpinnings that disappeared was the Academia de Pintura, Escultura y Grabado, founded in 1854. Apparently because of the upheavals it closed in 1898. There was therefore no art school. Art classes were conducted in the respective studios of the noted artists of the time. In 1908, Rafael Enriquez, a painter who had studied at the Academia de San Fernando in Madrid and had observed other art schools in Europe, initiated a move to establish a formal art school. Enriquez had also been one of the organ-

izers that same year of the Associacion Internacional de Artistas. A formal petition was drafted and signarures were solicited. Dominador Castaneda's "Art in the Philippines" mentions that : "Y outhful Fernando C. Amorsolo handcarried a set of petition papers and campaigned from house to house seeking the signatures of the students . . . " On June 18, 1909, the School of Fine Arts of the University of the Philippines was formally opened on R. Hidalgo with Enriquez as director. Amorsolo immediately enrolled without waiting one more year to graduate at the Liceo de Manila. Obviously, Amorsolo had decided on a career as an artist. His enthusiasm in perso nally working for the creation of an art school demonstrated this. But even earlier, when in 1908 th e Associacion Internacional de Aritstas was organized and it had sponsored an art exhibit at the "Bazar Filipino" on the Escolta, one of four second prizes had gone to 16-year old Fernando Amorsolo for a painting entitled "Leyendo Periodico. " This was Amorsolo's first recorded prize in a painting competition with established artists (Fabian de la Rosa 's entries were marked Hors

opposite left

34, Portrait of a Woman with Fl owers 20 x 32 â&#x20AC;˘ oil o n ca nvas 1915. Courtesy of Mr. Anto nio Nazareno

35. Classroom o f "oleo 01 no lurol " under Rafael Enriquez in th e U.P. School o f Fine Arts as it appeared in th e Re nocimienlo Fifipino .

36. The First graduates of U.P. School of Fine Arts April 2, 191 4 left to Right: bock row I Fernando Amorsolo • pai n ting 2 Tomos Cullel . engraving 3. Dorotea Abayo • pointing fronfrow

-4 Hora cia Reyes · scul pture 5. Narciso Reyes· pointing 6. Doming o Ce lis· pointing Photo from the Amorso lo family.

37. An a.ample of a po inti ng by Joaqu in Sorol lo, th e Span is h pointer whose style influenced Amo rsa lo.


Concours or 'not in competition'. One of two fIrst prizes went to Vicente Rivera y Mir.) . It doubtless served to predispose him to an art career. Amorsolo was among the fust batch who studied at the newly opened UP art school under the American regime. The director, Rafael Enriquez, is described by Castaneda (Art in the Philippines) as one " whose forte was to lecture on the thoroughness of Velazquez's manner of painting and the vividness of his colors . .. " Other professors of Amorsolo were Miguel Zaragoza, Toribio Herrera, and of course, Fabian de la Rosa. Castaneda further recounts: "He (Amorsolo) lent attentive ears to his professor's lectures and supplemented his studies through reading books and art magazines. He studied closely the paintings of the masters, the faithful reproduction .. . made possible by the development and improvement of color process in printing. Magazines, like Spain's La Esjera, England's International Studio, America's The Studio and other publications, all bearing very good full color reproductions of both European and American works, found their way to the Philippines. Via this medium, works of old as well as new artists, like Sorolla, Zuloaga, Anders Zorn, Manet, Monet, Corot, Millet, Renoir, Gauguin, George Iness, James McNeil Whistler, John Singer Sargent, and the British Gainsborough, Turner, Constable, and others, became .easily accessible."

38. Son Juan Landscape 7 x "'. 1/2 . charcoal on paper Undoted. Courtesy of (risty Amorsolo


~O. Photo of Amorsolo in the ·' P.CC News" identifying

41. An advertisement for Ivory so ap for Pacific Commercial Co.

Amorsolo os chief artist of th e publicity department.



hile studying at the UP School of Fine Arts, Amorsolo rented a house·studi o on Calle Alejandro VI. He did art work for commercial firms, odd jobs including pain ting posters for coming attractions for the old Ideal Theatre. He illustrated for newspapers and maga· zines, doing pen-and-ink cover designs for "EI Renacimiento". He illustrated Inigo Regalado's Tagalog novel, "Madaling A raw " and the first Tagalog novel of Severino Reyes entitled "Parusa Ng Diyos" at about this time. There was a fever of excitement among Filipino artists in this period. The American occupation had just begun to unravel. There was a new state university. The period from the revolution against Spain to the Philippine-American war had caused disruption, but gradually the American occupation forces established a relatively stable colonial government. Again we turn to Castaneda for his observant re· constructions: "Employment increased since the new government required a larger number of civil workers of various competence and categories. The upper crust of this group, as well as the officer class of the Armed Forces, consisted the majority of the clientele of the artists. With the growth of commerce, the field of advertising gained more impetus with increasing number of American business firms in the country. This circumstance favoured the artists especially the younger ones who were struggling for recognition, for it afford· ed them a means of livelihood while steering their way uphill in painting."


IVOR'Y 'SOAp :_ _____ The .ame good Ivory that your m() · . used at home. Better ~, Purn . T~anotla~r.'So~p'" '. "": .:.;: .":


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} 42. Some meda ls garnered by Amorsolo, one from th e U.P. School of Fine Arts "for exce llence" and another one of four seco nd prizes from the socie d od in lern aclon o/ de orlislas doted 1908 for his I3nfry '" leyendo Periodico ".


ilipin o artis ts were eager for the possibilities of a career in art. In one of his reminiscences, Amorsolo recalled: "Before I was gradu ated, I had to work for a Captain Johnson, fo rmerly connected with the Bureau of Public Works , making some chair designs for him. I w asn 't taught that in school, but I had to do the job if I expected to earn a living. My first earnings amounted to ~2 a week." In later years, recalling this experience he was to push strongly for the establishment of commercial art courses in the school curriculum. He sold some of his paintings in a curio store on Calle Echague run by an American woman. As ar t student and part-time co mmercial artist, he 34

entered design competitions, and on August 1, 1913 he won a ~100.00 prize for a poster design for the Philippine Exposition. That same month. on August 18, he won a cover design contest of the Weekly Times, baggir.g a ~50 . 00 prize. Newspaper accounts of the time identified him as "One of the artists on the staff of 'Colman' the Ad Man." His winning entry was described in the Manila Daily Bulletin news item: "The winning poster depicts a muscular male figure of a Filipino farmer in typical native costume gazing over a flooded rice-field, shading his eyes with the palm of his hand, with his back to the onlooker. In the center foreground is a Filipino plow and to its right a carabao lying down on the ground, The

-4 3. Two medals won by Amorsolo for en tr ies in the Manilo Cornival of 1922 and 1927.

coloring is subdued, dark green, red and brown being the predominating shades which are blended artistically. The scene is typical of the country and the standing male figure is expressive of the latent strengrh and possibilities of the Filipino people." The Amorsolo theme and formula for artistic success was born. "Fortune has smiled upon F.C. Amorsolo, a student in the School of Fine Arts. .." said the Manila Times of August 1, 1913 on his triumph in the poster contest. And fortune continued to smile upon the artist. Winning competitions, particularly carnival posters, became a habit. That same year, he also won a 'P2S.00 prize for a design for a gold medal for the Philippine Exposition.

Amorsolo completed the five-year course of Fine Arts in 1914 winning various art medals throughout his schooling. As was the custom at the time, a competition was held for the vacant post of instructor at the University of the Philippines and Amorsolo bested five others in five exercises. The open competition included crayon, oil painting, chalk, and so on with the works unsigned. The jury unanimously selected the works of Amorsolo in each category. The entire competition's output was then placed on public view to confirm the judges' choices. He was appointed instructor in drawing. At around this time he did a large portrait of President Wilson which presaged his future as master portraitist. This was sent to the Exposicion de Panama of 1914 along with an 35

44 . Rendezvous 8路111)( 6路1/ 8路 watercolor 1912. Courtesy of Mr. luis Aroneto

intriguing piece en titled "La Muerte De Socrates", which sho wed and attempt (probably his first and laSt), at the historical "grand manner" of David's French Academy much like the Spolarium of Ju an Luna and th e Cristianas Espuestas al Populacho, of Felix Hidalgo. To keep rice on his plate , Amorsolo also worked part time as draughtsman with the Bureau of Public Works, drawing graphs and tracing architectural plans. He was also employed as chief artist of the Pacific Commercial, a large business esta blishment. Thus, juggling teaching, part time commercial art work, and other odd painting jobs, as well as selling his paintings, Amorsolo held fast to his artist's vocation. This period of trying to eke out a living through one's artistic talent doubtless 36

shaped the character of many Filipino painters of that period. Even in their subsequent days of success, pain ters concen trated their energies towards trying to cash-in on their output instead of guarding their creativity jealously or putting a stiff price tag on their works. As an instructor in art at the UP School of Fine Arts, and just beginning to become a celebrity, young Fernando met Salud Jorge, age 16, at the Carnival of 1916. Recalled the artist to a friend, R. J oven of the Philippine Free Press: "I had never aspired to have for a life companion a woman of high social status. Her beauty, her charm and, more than anything else, her modesty, captivated me instan tly, I courted her with assiduity and in the year I met her we were married."

45. "La Mu e rle d e Socrates" Reproduced in Excelsior, Dec:. 191 4. No da ra is known


46. Portra it of President Wilson sent to the Panama Exposition, as it appeared in the same publication.

CIKNOI Ati. A ~'I":'~ . L.rrKltA'l'l1I t A. I NDUSTRIA . CO.\U-:ltC10 Y AnHlel":t UR A





\It I L

<\ ';

UK K:'\lmU UK I:llj

47. "Lo $iem b ro " Cover of Renocimiento Fjfip ino. January 7, 1913. No other dolo (wa tercolor or ink wash). 48 . Illustration fo r " MadoUng Arow " a Togolog novel by In igo Regolado publisl-led in 1909.

49. " Un Puen te Rustico en 80 9YO" . Pen and in k cover illustrat io n for Ren o cim ien to Mogazlne

50. Pen and ink iIIuslration for "Poruso n9 Oiyo$" by Don Severino Reyes.

51 " Igorroto de Benguel"

Cover ;llu5 "0Iion in pen and ink for Ren o cim iento Filip ino. 52 _ "Un Rincon de Pos;g " Cover ilIustrotion in pen and ink for Renocimien to Filipino. poges 40 -41 53. My Wife, Solud ", From photo collection of the ortist. 1920. Oil on convos .

LA SI E M B I<A 47 48





An Iberian Interlude t was at this time that fortune chose to smile her brightest on Amorsolo who had in December 1917 become the father of a girl. A wealthy businessman, Enrique Zobel , offered to send him abroad to study art developments in Europe. When Don Enrique sent for him, Amorso10 expected that he was going to be asked to paint a portrait, and Zobel's offer suprised him. "I know your work quite well ... and I appreciate very much what you are doing for art in this country. But I think you need to study more. Yo ur must go to Europe, study there, and visit the art galleries of the world. It will help improve yo ur art, " Don Enrique told him. Amorsolo left for Spain; his rip, along with a 1"-200 a mo nth pension (part of which went to his wife and child in Manila) flI1anced by Do n Enriq ue Zobel. The year before, Wodd War I had ended. Amorsolo found Europe dIsrupted by strikes and civil disturbances. He was unable to Vlsit Paris and Rome. Had Amorsolo visited Paris at the time ( 19J 9) he would have experienced a ferment of revo lutionary art "isms" there. Impressionism had long become publicly acce pted ; far newer "isms" had upset each other in rapid succession. Fauvism, Dadism, Surrealism, Cubism, along with other movements, had placed Western art in a state of per petua l revolt. Picasso had passed his blue and rose periods, painted "Les Demoiselles d' Avignon" (1907) and had moved to abstract-cubist forms. Fernand Leger was painting his hard, flatcolored, machine-like nudes. The "Nude Descendinga Staircase" by Dadaist Marcel Duchamp had already caused its furor at the historic Armory Show in New York (1913) . Mondrian's compositions and Malevich's " White on White" (1918) had pushed th e frontiers of abstract art to their outermost limits. Henri Rousseau, Matisse , Braque, Derain, Rouault, Kandinsky, George Grosz, Modigliani, were all act ive in this period.



54. Portrait of Don Enr ique Zobel

21-3/ 8 x 29-112 - oil on ca nvos 1943. Courtesy of Ayala Corporation .

But Amorsolo had elected to spend most of his sojourn abroad in Madrid. At the Prado Museum he obtained permission to make a copy of Goya's "Maja Desnuda" and Velasquez's "Don Fernando de Austria." This task had been a condition of the pension received fro.m Enrique Zobel. Amorsolo subsequently revealed in a 1920 interview that he would have preferred to have copied other works of Velasquez which he considered superior to the painting Don Fernando, but the subject had been in compliance with his patron, Enrique Zobel's wishes. Goya's Maja, on the other hand, he copied with gusto, finishing

the copy in five days. There were more than twenty other painters waiting their turn to copy the Maja; and Amorsolo had managed merely part of a turn of twenty days which corresponded to a painter who had gone on a summer vacation foregoing his turn. The director of the Prado, Aureliano Beruete, had ceded him the brief opening. n this same published interview (Manila Nueva: March 6, 1920) Amorsolo gave his impressions of painting that provide insight into his aesthetic taste. He was asked his preference of artists whose works were in the Prado, and Amorsolo replied: "Velasquez is indisputably number one: that is how he is universally consecrated. Then come Goya the great reformer, EI Greco, the painter of originality so much in vogue in Spain. I also like very much some good pictures of Rubens, and those of Van Dyck. There was hardly any of Rembrandt; in New York on the other hand I saw much of this DutCh painter's works." He was then asked about the modern painters outside the Museum and he replied: "Of the moderns, I like first Zuloaga and Soro11a, who each in his own style, are two figures of the first magnitude. Along originality, Romero de Torres. " Although Amorsolo had not been to Paris where the storm of the modern art raged at the time, nevertheless he was made aware of the various movements during his stay in Europe. The essentially moderate character of AI?orsolo did not draw him to the radical art concepts of the time as he revealed in this same published interview, when he was asked: " And what about the modernists, with marked tendencies revolutionary in painting, what is your opinion? " Amorsolo replied: "For me, they have been somewhat revealing. Something which I had hardly thought, which overturned entirely my concept of painting but which I do not think has made me fall into error notwithstanding the extravagance. I place myself at mid-point between both tendencies. The world marches, tastes evolve , the inter-


pretation of beauty by the artist varies also according to the times because with these also vary the artists. Velasquez painted well, supremely well, but today it is useless to pretend to paint like him. Zuluoaga of a fame now worldwide, paints today like a king of the palette, but within forty, sixty years no o ne will paint like him, nor will they try to imitate him as they now imitate him. On this point, to sanction the originality of the two brothers Zubiaurre in some of their paintings, for example, there is a big difference. To me, I am enchan ted by the originality of an artist, but not up to the point of jumping over the rules of good taste and of beauty." No other statement by Amorsolo so clearly delineates his artistic philosophy. He was certainly no conservative academician . But he chose moderation in the face of radical concepts. orsolo obviously sought to ground himself in the tradition of Velasquez. He studied at th e Royal Academy of San Fernando in Madrid, the school where Luna, Hidalgo, and even J ose Rizal studied. There, he was under the advisorship of Jose Moreno Carbonero and Cecilio PIa. He plunged himself vigorously in to both drawing an d pain ting. Many of his frnest drawings are from this brief but intense period. Oil paintings and watercolors too are memorable, particularly several versions of HEI Violinista" and figu re studies of a model named Laurita. He seemed to have had little time for the bohemian frolics of artists in Europe at the time, prodigiously sketching and painting instead. He was shy and he had little money. His impressive output for his stay in Spain shows his enthusiasm: sketches and notes of people in the street, watercolors and head studies, as well as complete paintings attest to a fruitful, zestful period and it is hard to believe he stayed only seven months. His return journey to the Philippines took him to New York, Washington and San Francisco. This side trip was hardly eventful. A letter Amorsolo wrote in Tagalog to his friend the sculptor Guillermo Tolentino mentions his impression of art in San Francisco: H... This morning I spent more then three hours at the museum at the Gold-



56. 57 . Two oils


Amorso lo done in

~odrid as they appeared in a publicotion. ~o dolo exis ts o n th ese wo rks .

en Gate. The museum is very poor. Here is where the Americans have made known their ignorance in art taste. In the sculpture room nothing pleased me except two or three: Almost everything is mannerist as though they were made in a fabrica de objectos de marbol or sculpture for a restaurant or to adorn a club salon. It is the same with painting. I lingered a bit only at the room of the Last War and the Spanish-American War. Here is where I saw several objects pertaining to the Revolucion Filipina, etc." From Seattle Amorsolo returned to Manila on board the Suwa Maru on February 19, 1920 after a year's stay abroad. He had only a year's leave of absence from the university. He chose not to return to his commercial art job at the Pacific Commercial company . Instead he devoted his time to teaching and painting. The very first painting he did was the portrait of his wife salud mentioned earlier. HIt was regarded as a masterly piece of portraiture by fellow painters, most notably Fabian de la Rosa. So much so that every time they visited the artist, they feasted their eyes on this one painting which hung on a place

of honor in his Soler Street studio and later, in his Azcarraga house-studio until October 1944." (Castaneda). On loan from the artist, it was in the Office of the Director of the National Library when it was destroyed in the battle of Manila in World War II. (plate 53) â&#x20AC;˘ ineteen twenty one was a period of transition for Amorsolo, a shedding-off of some of the superficial influences of his European sojourn while studying the quality of Philippine life and light around him. He turned his attention to genre painting which at the time was popular. Since the early 1900's genre art had prospered. ''The full resurgence of genre painting did not come to pass until the end of the nineteenth century when interest in scenes of Philippine daily life developed. The Americans always carried with them their box cameras, or kodaks; army officers and officials of commercial houses toured the Philippine countryside in automobiles and photographed typical scenes like planting rice, plowing, palay harvesting and pounding; river scenes and women washing


clothes , street scenes with peddlers laden with baskets of wares on their heads, and many others. This sudden appreciation for genre photographs metamorphosed into the desire to see and preserve them in oil paintings. Hence, before the third decade of the century elapsed, genre had widespread and enormous following. De la Rosa himself took up genre. 'Rice Planters' or 'Planting Rice' was among the Hrst genre paintings he accomplished. It was a piece of many figures executed in his usual procedure: a rough sketch, a study on an actual planting scene, revision, then the transfer to canvas, which was given the final touches, whenever feasible, right in the open Held." The preceding reconstruction of the period (Castaneda: "Art in the Philippines") reveals not just the climate that moved Amorsolo towards his famous genre work, but his continuing link with Fabian de la Rosa, including in some ways, his painting procedure. Amorsolo of course introduced his celebrated back lighted subjects, purer colors and a solidity to his Hgures. I t is hardly surprising that this same narration of Castaneda records Amorsolo's first "serious genre" as also being a "Rice Planting" scene, painted in 1922: "The setting is the rice Helds on the eastern side of the San Juan River. The historic Pinaglabanan Church is within sight, so much so that in the finished painting this church is silhouetted in the far background. The key point of interest of the painting is a female planter, in the near central foreground, who had just straightened up. The morning sun plays on the bent backs of other planters, whose images are mirrored on the irrigated rice paddies." He was making his mark in art. But even while still in Spain , someone had seen the star of Amorsolo in the night sky and had announced: "Fernando Amorsolo is a name to remember in the history of art here. He has arrived, a challenge to established reputations, a rival whom the gods have chosen to outdistance his contemporaries. And the years that shall blossom with the creations of his hands will record the praises of the people of his land." (Trinidad; "The Citizen," December 18,1919). 45

A GIRL N AMED LAURIT A While in Madrid. studyi ng at the fscue/o Superior de Pintu ro, f scvlfu ra r Grobod o de Son Fernando, Amorsolo produced mony paintings; among these, various pe nci l. watercolor. and oil studi es o f a professional mo del identified 05 l ourito in o ne of his charcoa l drawings . Hi s in terest in the nude female form was to lost th roughout his coreer. Depicti ng nudes ou tdoors was a favorite sub iact, w hile doing quick sketches in oi l served as 0 " brea k" from his commissioned portraits in loter yeors. The number of works de picting l aurito, a s well a s an old mon appearing a s a "violin isto" in one work. is a gouge of ho w absorbed in learning the ortist was in his bri ef seven · mo nlh slay in Madrid.

58. loorito Me ditating 1.4·3/ 8 )( 10·3/ 8 . charcoal penci l on pape r Unda ted (probably 19 19). Cou rtesy o f Mr s. Fe rnando Amor solo 59. Lourilo 7 x 10 . con te crayo n on pa per 1919. Cou rtesy o f Mrs. Ferna ndo Am o rso lo

o pposile

60 Nude on Gross 14. 1/2 x 9·3/ 4·wote rco lo r 1919. Cou rtesy o f Jo rge Va rgas Filip iniono Foundation.

, 46

opposife page 61. Girl with Flower From a mogozine reproduction this poge, left 62. lourito Grooming 10路112 I( 14 . watercolor 1914. Courtesy of Mr. & Mrs. Ricardo lopo below 63. lourito Outdoors 32路 112 )( 23 路 1/ 4 . oil o n canvas 1919. Courtesy of Mr Alfredo R. Races





nabibitin ang buwall sa lang't, Ang simoy ng hang-in ay t toong nakari.skit sa bawat damdamin, Ang mg-a . ariwang dabon ng mga punoug malalaki na pinaliliguan ug kaigaigayang Ii wa u ag . ng buwan ay lubhang kawiliwili, Bawat makakita'y pilit kakau 'apiu ang puso at dito'y magfiwang walang sala ng ising gunfgunfng sukat mapangarap .. , Noo'y hating gabi at sa simbaha'y katutugt6g pa lamang ng ika 11 at

,\ / 65. Self . Portroit 4-112 )( 7 . charcoal on paper Undated. Courtesy of Cristy Amorsolo


6 4. 66. 67. 6 8. Pen & ink illu strations from "M odo/ing

tl)' ... . hindi man lamaog IUIlliog6u sa lik6cl. Nagpalu Lulo), ug Jltltuloy llUnggllng sa uawsln. N~p!l l ugm6k us In aug kuawaswang si ! Nalumbuy. Nalunoe. mu hn .. :.- jay! lk aaw l Ik\lhablig habdg!

'(t1/n 1l

u llm ri u;

t "ug pnlabini ug 51 M 0)' inihogis ang .In nlung hnilltnu, nnupl') sn

al nynw pOl'ooni u aug \Ikirnnng ~ i N4?udcng.

Lui'-s.'\" surnu!olnJlak fUi .u6 un'tillnhih:\u ni I: n. Il Ui" 'u!; tudyuhiu k lly ur,)ug u06'y kung bo 路

':' ** DumaLing aog ki l kasan. Araw lingg6

Ilapopaliwaiag. Si Pm.tun pnl'oting Lila may ~bnl n k

ay rnn 路nyn nn.

saYlt aug laugit at nng umngn 'y kanynnYII. SA mga Inu Ilugau , ang knl'Ulllihang unugagsfsipliglnkd '. a babne; nan ukatu lukbon lll!- itim"



preceding pages

69. ,off Violinislo" 20 )( 1.4 • oil on canvas 1919. Courtesy of Mr. lu is Aronelo

with Hot 3·112 x 5·112 . wa tercolor

70. Woman

Undo ted. Courtesy of Mrs. Fernando AmorsoJo



71. EI Maeslro

10-3/ 8 )( 1".1/ 2 - charcoal on paper Undated Ip,a bably 19191. Courtesy of Mrs Fernan do Amorsolo.


t路 ~


I LII==,



I ;:::: ~






72. 73. Two en Courtesy of ~ rs. ~ amando ink sketches f Amo~so~o~drid Street scenes.


Opp OJlte Ie"

74. Head sludy o f on old man. 12.1/ 4 x 9路 3/ 4 . conl e crayon on paper 1920. Courlesy of Mr. luis Aronelo

76. Still life a s reproduced in the August 1935 issue of Ph ilipp ine Teo cher路s Digesl.

opposite left 77. Tendera de Mango From th e photo collection of the ortist.

79. San Juan L.andscape 7 x 4. 1/2 . charcoal on paper. Undated. Courtesy of (risty Amorsolo.


80. Man with Rooster. No doto Courtesy of M,. Enrique Zobel


opposite righ'

83. Old Woman No doto. From the photo collection of the ortist.


82. Meditation No do lo. From th e photo coll ecti on of the ort is!

84 Te resa l a ndscap e 13 )C 16 . oil on wood ponel. 1927 Courtesy of Mr luis Atone lo

opposite right 85. San Francisco del Monte River 9. 1/ 4)C 13 路 oil on wood ponel. 1924. Courlesy of Mr. lu is Aron e lo

View From the Top


ow firmly established, Amorsolo settled down to a rigid schedule of painting. When not teaching or painting in his studio, Amorsolo would go on sketching sojourns to nearby fields and streams trying to capture the color of sunset, dusk, or early morn. Carrying his box of oil paints and prepared wooden panels (about eight路 inches high and twelve inches wide) he would do on-the-spot paintings without preliminary drawing, in vigorous, swift and sure brush strokes and crisp, fresh, colors. He would then trudge home tired but exhilarated at having completed a painting in an

instant while having stored notes aild experience in his head and hand for his studio-composed genre paintings. The freshness of his vision, the authentic aliveness of his field, sky , and sunlight are traceable to this continuous communion with the earth. Even a successful painter however could only muster a modest living. It is significant to note that a disproportionate number of foreigners represented the major buyers of art of that time. The American colonial government had created a corps of army elite who accounted much for the popularity of both genre and portraiture. One such client, a Capt. Robert Kennedy, on his return to the U.S., brought some Amorsolo paintings to be framed at the Art Center Gallery in

New York. The gallery owners expressed interest in the works and Capt. Kennedy arranged for a one-man show. This introduced Amorsolo formally to a broader American public. This 1925 one-man show in the U.S. attracted many Americans who had been to the Philippines or were interested in the country; and it was a near sell-out. Excerpts from an account in the Philippine Republic at the time document Amorsolo's initial success in the U.S.: "Prior to last November, although a few of his canvases had been sold in this country and Spain, Amorsolo was, generally speaking, practically unknown in the United States. But between November 1 and November 13, forty of his best pieces were exhibited at the 86. Woman with Water Jug Data unknown. From a magazine clipping_

below 87 . Montolbon Landscape 15路;$/ 4 x 12-1/ 4 . oi l on wood pone I 1925. Courtesy of Mrs. & Mr. Antonio Aroneto

opposite 88. Ricefield 23 x 33 oil on can vas 1971. Courtesy of FGU


famous Art Center, 65 East 56th Street, New York City. Throughout that period there was an intermittent line of New Yorkers viewing the works of the Filipino arrist. The newspapers sent their critics. That they were impressed was evidenced by the fact that some of them came back a second and third time to reinforce their first favorable impressions. . . .The ability of the almost unknown artist. . . .was recognized, admitted, and then acclaimed . .. .. Three thousand persons viewed the canvases, twenty-four of which found buyers in an incredibly short time ... . .The exhibition 'of Amorsolo's paintings in New York continued to attract attention even after it had formally closed. Some of the purchasers

very kindly allowed their paintings to remain at the galleries for display, and they have excited praise and admiration of a great number of art lovers. "Almost continuously since the Art Center exhibition, requests have been received to show the paintings at art clubs and other associations. Several times -the canvases have been reassembled for dinners and entertainments attended by many people interested in the Philippines. The exhibition has occasioned the most favorable comment, both upon the high quality of the arrist's work as well as upon the cultural advancement of the native Filipino which Amorsolo's accomplishments indicate."

Like Luna and Hidalgo before him who found themselves walking examples of Filipino cultural potential in Europe, Amorsolo apparently served to demostrate to the new American colonizers the level of cultural attainment of Filipinos. The same Philippine Republic report listed the paintings on exhibit, noting that the "range of talent." and the titles demonstrate the fully developed Amorsolo genre theme:

1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. 11. 12.

The Lavanderas Florecilla del Campo Forest at Sibul Springs Just Before Noon The Rice Harvest A Sunset A Cock Fighter Study of Smiling Girl A Laborer A Filipina Mestiza A Country Girl Sunset on a River 13. Riverside 14. A Native House 15. Sun and Clouds 70

16. 17. 18. 19. 20. 21. 22. 23. 24. 25. 26. 27. 28. 29. 30. 31. 32. 33. 34. 35. 36. 37. 38. 39. 40.

Branch of Pasig La Vieja On the Luneta Por la Manana Pilgrims to Antipolo A Barrio Market Study of Nude Girl Study Smiling Girl San Juan Church A Farmer Los Banos Plowing the Rice Field Her Grandson Ready for Market Fishing Bancas The Mango Seller Rice Planting Still Life Mangoes A Spanish Girl Laguna de Bay From My Window Road to Mariquina Plowing at Marilao

preceding pages 68·69 89. Sunday Morning. Going Town 39·118 x 27 · oil on canvas 1960. Courtesy of Mr. Anselmo Trinidad


opposite leF,

90. San Francisco del Mon'e 9·1 / " x 13 . oil on wood panel 1926. Courtesy of Mr. Lu is Araneto

right 91. Nude with Pink Drap ery 12 x 16 . oil on ca nvas boord 1960. Courtesy of Mrs. Imelda Romuoldez Marcos below

92. la vonderos 8)( 13·112 . oil on masonite 1952. Courtesy of Dr. Gregorio Lim

93. Winnowing Rice. '948. 2]路112 x 21.1/2 . oil on canvas 19.8. Courtesy of Fili pinos Foundation (Donated by Mrs. Pot. Zamora )

e had discovered a market for his works in the United States. Local art patrons at the time were a rarity. There was not that much demand for paintings nor were there too many willing to pay handsome prices. This paucity of local art patrons is the essential condition with which artists of this period should be viewed. The financial rewards were not commensurate to Amorsolo's fame, despite his continuing with his teaching and his accepting commercial art work and commissioned portraits. In 1929, for example , The Graphic reported: "Don Fabian A. de la Rosa, Director of the School of Fine Arts, and probably the best-known living Filipino painter in Europe, has almost entirely discontinued catering to local patrons. Only in very rare cases - and then mostly for resident foreigners does he consent to do any work for customers here. 'It is not worth the candle,' he says, 'I have found th at out from experience. It is not that peo ple out here cannot afford decent prices for pain tings. It is only that they are not willing to pay such prices because they do not have a proper evaluation of works of art. It is partly owing to locally prevalent conditions such as this that I have decided to confme my sales to the European market . . . Abroad, I can get five times the price I can get for a picture locally. And I do not lack orders . . . " Amorsolo, in this same article, noted: "It is queer but the fact is the United States, a cou ntry which is alleged to be anything but artistic, is just where all the world's best artists go to , for it is there that they are best patronized." The Tribune Magazine of March 10, 1929 in a similar vein noted : "But after all is said, the fact remains that Filipino art has to look to foreign art lovers if it would make anything like progress. Mrs. Stimson, for example, took along with her no less than eight pictures by Mr. Amorsolo to become permanent additions to her collection back home. Recently the same artist sold three pictures to Mr. Fleishacker, San Francisco fmancier : one to Mr. Vanderbilt and four to M. Merillon for his Paris collection, both of whom were Manila visitors together not long ago."


Explaining that "60 pictures of typical Fili74

pino life done in the Impressionist manner" was scheduled for exhibition at the Grand Central Art Gallery of New York, the report observed: "It is said that of thirty-two pictures of his exhibited in the same gallery two years ago only two were not disposed of and those do not treat of the essential

Philippine scene." The shape of Philippine painting was molded by the hand of foreign patronage explaining the direction of Amorsolo's art in later years and that of the subsequent horde of his followers who became known as the Mabini painters.

94 . Rice Planting 21 -112 )( 10-3/ 4 - oil on canvas 1943. Courtesy of Jorge Vargos Filipiniano Foundation


above 95. Seascap e 12-5/ 8 ,9-1 / 4 Idelo;!) . oil on masonite 1952. Courtesy of Dr. Gregorio lim righl 96 . Fishing Scene

57 .112 )( 35·1 / -4 • oil on plywood 1942. Courtesy of Jorge Vargas filip iniono Foundation opposite above

97 Elias 14·1/2 )C 9.1/2 . oil on wood 1969. Courtesy of Mr s. Sylvio lozo

I 76

------ -- -- - - - - - - - - - - - - r - - - 9


top 99. Sugarcane Field, Nosugoo, 8010ngos 9路1 / " x 13 - oil on wood ponel 1935. Courtesy of Mr. Luis Aran elo boHom

100. lovondero 29路3/ .. x 23路3/ " . oil on canvas 1947. Courtesy of Mr. Philip Monserrot.

Following page

101. Morning Dip 17 -112 x 23-112 . oil on canvas 1961. Courtesy of Mr. Alberto (e enio


eanwhile Amorsolo's dominance of the local art scene had became almost total. He was something of a celebrity. He appeared in full page advertisements which read : "Celebrated Artist Chooses the Marquette built by Buick" . Poems were written in his honor. Some sample stanzas in translation from Batikuling's (J esus Balmori) column, Vida Manilena in the La Vanguardia of May 21, 1928 reflects the sentiments that brought Amorsolo fame : " while Chengoy displays his daughter Sinfarosa as pompous queen of a roaring carnival you paint the humble and shy dalaga carrying a jug to the fountain. " "And while our damas and even our damitas exhibit themselves, dazzling us with their culos de vasa (paste jewelry) you paint the female wo ker filled with sampaguitas who smiles swee tl y at us along the wa y."

.felebrated Artist Chooses~

'. . e".Jie.MarQuette DUl lT



Fernando Amorsolo-whosc peintinJ!.!i have won, {or him and the Philippines world-wide (arne-has chosen the MArquette os the cor for his pen.Qnol usc. The Marq ue tle truJy appcttl... to ftrtistic (ostes. . hs

graceful Jines, iu luxurlouJ' llppointsncnt~. i~ hetl~tI(ul

11 distinction wh ich I ~ n trlhute d esigne ~ nnd builders. It is II Cllr which reOI.'ClS the Buick backgrou nd,-thc Buick iden~.

color hannonies, give it

to its

Appealing 6S the MIU"'1uct".. is in urti!ootic bcuut)'. II~ c.lui ms to lasting fame und po pulont}'. Llrt' tL" ~lro n ~ly httSCd on irs smooth pcrlo""tt"n路 - tt.<s ~wlhn ...~ IL~ sufety-its economy, both in fin; l ell:.t und in upkeep. Here is n cor of compelling merit-fully dC5Cn'in~ In he cnll~1 " th(' com panion cnr I n t h(' Buick ."

Automotive Sales Company I'ln plnand )llltll .. dtt 1/.&IK1> .'-.cloo.'

" Oh illustrious and divine poet of color Oh genius of the race without peer wh o leaves the thistle and gathers the flower and abandons shade for the sunlight."

Duidl-MarqueUe-C. M. C. TrucJu

103. An adve rtisement for Marq ue tte feat uring Amorsolo os it a ppea red in The Sunday Tribune Magazine

Amorsolo was ubiquitous judge of carnival beauty quee n contests. His previous employment with th e press had of course given him many friends there. Wh en he fIrst received public notice by winning a carnival poster design in 1913, the Daily Bulletin had referred to him as "Omorsolo", while the Manila Tim es identifIed him as " Amarsolo", bu t by 1928 his name was a national byword. For instance, when President Quezon said "Solos nos podemos prosperar" the irrepressible Batikuling in his La Vanguardia column "Vida Manilena", remarked in passing: " For me th e o nly solo that suits this 'mabolo' as the drop of color suits th e pallete is Fernando Amorsolo! And neith er is he solo! Amor accompanies him! "

preceding poge 102. Portrait of Mrs. Ma rio Amorso lo


I( 29-112路 postel on poper 1961. (ourtesy of Mrs. Sylvia lazo


10 4. Pos toge stomp designed by Amonolo

~:;;~ ~~ 'l\ani1cim



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fillp. n ~ !

bel1eza,s !

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Ad crando tn arte I M ~f>I.:;-d.:- p3:'a tn l'::.{1'e r .!-U (' ur~ l podt" rJO

0lTOS rxponen ·'('('II .1('h" de (" ~ t:ll,) monac!\1. T n p ln t3(. la r:\1'I;a dE' C':'tt1a cabe ('1 rio.

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del 'rrdr plata nal !

Cht"n{!o), expC' l w :\ l'U hiJa SinCoTo.!'a

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l\. pmta$

~1I . n t r.., Pro<~;>i o ' XPO'" a ' u hl )o, 'bO!!adUlr Y hazmereir de todo..e;. como u n a p a t n a gloria. 1\! pintas RI labnego honradote )' scneillo. Labrando con .::iU arado el oro de la hislon a!

M ien~ra.s n uesl ras se exhlbrn t rt unfadoras Hoeh.., unas histerless cn cad a bail", Que ha y. 1U plnta s t>n f' 1 cnmpo las brll as !'r~ ndora s Dt-I dorado ·· pala)'··!

~t 'E'n;' Tfl~ dc· ntro dt> un " pac kard" l' u ltiqu!t"'r siftemt>5i no Exhl bt> I'U apo."tu l'a. dp f'x tm io psC'ora bnJo. Tu plll:a~ !\obre ("I n lslirn car a bao r..n mt*=-i no. Al m OlO qHf' rCI;Tf'!':l d r l t l'ab:l jn '

Y ))Uentras nur!:itrns. dAmas. y h3!'t a nU l~:-;l1"\S d ll ll Utas, Sf f"lrI:hibt' n dp~l llmbn\n ct nnos con sus ru ins d ~ VI"'<O. Tn plntil:, a 19. ohrera !lcna d!" s:u n pa S;: Ul1As Q llr Ilo!\ son r i" du l C'{' m r n l.(' n.l paso! ((): , Ul'rdaro~' di\'1110 ;;;~t~rl \'olor' Oh . l{l'ntn etr la rala :-.1n p:\r ~u, · c1"'J:\~ r l a brojo )' r('roj(':- In 1101'. , abanch 'IlR!\ ht ~ombr a POl' rl rn),(, :-01:11"

f-.h.: ,I'" Ml' 10.., hOndrrn~ .;~ 1;~'-;f:l:- su pmn....



hny hn'" rf'rOll' lCln

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IU. pincelea

y au paleta

de la gloria, en el arte, lIeg6 a la meta. Su nombre por el mundo riega la Fama y como gran mae.tro Ie Ie prodama. JUItO e. que de lUI triunfol grandel y honroaol se lientan 101 filipinol mal que orgulloloa. Y gracias a IU merito reconocido desmentir muchas vecea hemos podido, eao que dice la gente mal informada, de que no hay aqua nadie que pinte nada.

105.· 106. Two columns in homage to Amorsolo, o ne by th e celebrated writer Jesus Balmori who used the pen name Bati ku ling for his column "Vida Ma nileno " in the Lo Vong uord ia of May 21 , 1928. The othe r is from the Ph ilip pines Free Press,



107. )( 10-112 . o il on ma soni te

8~l J 4

19 42, ( o ur tesy o f Mr Anselm o Trin idad

108. The Builders. A poin ting by Victorio Edodes which cou sed a controversy. 125路 1/ 2 x 47路 3/ 4 . oil on wood 1928. Courtesy of Cultural Center of the Ph ilippine s. A major work of Victoria Edode s. "The Build ers " become the lorget of critics because it stood a s the antithesis of th e Amorsolo aesthetic. Form s were distorted. while colors were dark and somber. In postwo r years Ihe dispute remained one of "realism " versus th e mer its of "distort ion " As a pointing. however, "The Builders" did not influence any of the Filipino modernists, in theme ond form , be longing a s it does more to the "Ash-Con " school of New York. However it served a s the right po' of point to throw of the ocademicions and conservo tives. Th e modernists probably sow in th e work simply on asse rt io n thai art has many forms, and thot on artist mus t point freely.


n this same year, 1928, a young Filipino painter arrived with an architect's degree and a master's in Fine Arts from the University of Washington. He had worked his way through an education in the United States, going as far as the salmon canneries of Alaska. His name was Victorio Edades. He held a one-man show at the Philippine Columbian where not a single painting was sold. The critics were cold. When Edades applied for a teaching post at the UP school of Fine Arts, he met a similar rejection: "the faculty also objected to my work. They did not like it. They said it was rough, not in proportion, distorted. They heaped all kinds of slander and derision on me. The recognized art critic at the time was Ignacio Manlapaz, and he criticized my painting. But the fIrst one who criticized me was Ariston Estrada, who is the nephew of Don Fabian de la Rosa. That was the beginning of the controversy ," recalled Edades to writer Jose Lacaba (Philippines Free Press March 15, 1969). A controversy putting Amorsolo in the eye of the typhoon started, and it was to last 40 years. Added Edades in this same published interview:

"When I was interviewed by the Monday Mail, a Herald paper, I criticized one of the paintings that were to be sent to Spain for an exhibition , a painting of women working in the rice fields , planting, but with beautiful dresses. I learned later that it was the work of Antonio Garcia Llamas, who was then a senior in frne arts at the U.P., and considered one of their best students. In answer to my criticism, Ariston Estrada published a long article, I answered him in another article, 'The Validity of Modern Art,' tracing the history of the impressionists. It was published in th e Herald." Edades became head of the Department of Architecture of the University of Santo Tomas, and by 1935 worked on murals for two cinema houses (State and Capitol theatres) with the help of Galo B. Ocampo and Carlos Francisco. Adherents among the writers (Salvador Lopez, Jose Garcia Villa writing from New York, Fred Mangahas, Emilio Aguilar Cruz) continued to raise the question of Modern Art and th e validity of the art of Amorsolo's followers , if not of Amorsolo himself. 85


But in 1928 Amorsolo was at the height of his powers and a celebrity. More important, he was riding on the crest of a national nostalgia for the Filipino pastoral lifestyle. Songs in Tagalog and poems in Spanish like those of Bernabe and Recto talked about the felicity of barrio life. Writers in English in the 30's like Manuel Arguilla ("How My Brother Leon Brought Home a Wife") would later carry the theme and, of course, Tagalog Hlms even today have made the theme a cliche. Folk songs were taught in school, and folk dances revived. No doubt American colonizers helped spark this nostalgia. It has already been noted that the "tourist" viewpoint of the Americans who were the major art patrons shaped the theme of genre painting.


he decade of the twenties was characterized by debates on Philipp,ine in,dependence, with one segment in favor of immediate independence and the other seeking more

opposite left 109. "fl Gcgo"

time through a plebiscite. The baklgtasan was born out of an effort to revive the duplo and 8,000 people packed the Olympic Theatre to listen to Jose Corazon de Jesus extoll the virtues of the traditional dalaga, while Florentino Collantes expounded on the Americanized, modern , Filipina. The Philippines Herald reported: "There is something deeply significant behind those shouts and applause of the crowd for the ... daklga of yesterday. We believe the audience was carried not so much by the poet himself as by the emotional appeal of the theme." And the Sunday Tribune conceded Jose Corazon de Jesus " all the advantage of popular sentiment t o his favor - he was pleading the cause of a sentimental daklga, pure and innocent, redolen t of th e sampaguitas." In this decade first attempts at Philippine literature in English were published: Zoilo Galang's "Child of Sorro w" (192 1), and Paz Marquez Benitez's short-story classic "Dead Star" (1925) . Jose Garcia Villa wrote short stories ( 926).

110. A bologtoson.

No dolo. From the photo collection of the ortist.


There was an extensive revival of folk motifs. Dean Fansler's Filipino Popular Tales (1921 ) led th e move. In music, Teodoro Kalaw, then dir ector of the National Library, noted: "Let me write the songs of a nati on and I do not care who makes its laws," is a favorite sentiment time and again invoked to show th e importance of a people's songs in th e perpetua tion of their spirit. It is the vigor of this spirit today that is responsible for the po pular revival of Philippine airs and the conseq uent flowering of local music in kundimans, bali taws, and oth er folk songs which are being accorded increasing enthusiastic response by the people." (Sunday Tribune June 23,1929). The taste in fashion was probably also influenced by t is same return-to-the-barrio-life fad. Faced with Americanization and urba nization, the nati onal identity sought to reaffirm itself in the pastoral life of Filipinos . The dalagang Filipina was glorified. In one article about the ideal Filipina beauty Amorsolo remarked: "With the change of fashions and the modern education that our women are undergoing, the Filipino wom an develops stronger character in her features . She now has a marked change in the contour of her face, no longe r th e baby-like dimpled cheek that she used to have in the early days. My conception of an ideal Filipina bea uty is one with a rounded face, not of the oval type often presented to us in newspa per and magazine illustrations. The eyes should be exceptionally lively, not the drea my , sleepy type th at characterizes the Mongolian. The nose should be of the blunt form but firm and strongly marked. The mouth plays a very important part in the determination of a beautiful face. The ideal Filipina beauty should have a sensuous mouth , not the type of the pouting mouth of th e early days ... So , the ideal Filipino beauty should not necessarily be white-complexioned, nor of th e dark brown color of the typical Malaya n, but of th e clear skin or fleshcolored type which we often witness when we meet a blushin g girl." (plate 2JJ).


preceding pages 88-89 III. Woman Cook ing in the Kjtch en 21 -1/2)( 15路1/2 . oil on con vos 1939 _ Courtesy o f Jorge Vorgos Fil ipiniono Fo undot ion 112. Oologong Bukid No doto. Pro bab ly posed by 0 dough ter. Fro m the pho to co llection of the artist.


opposite left 113. Woman wifh a Bongo 12 )( 15路 5/ 8 . oil on wood 1922. Courtesy of Mr. & Mrs. Anlonio Aronelo 114. Deloil from Woman with a 80ngo.


115. A photograph token by Amorsolo wh ich is strik ingly simila r to his own pa intings.


he Amorsolo theme developed in the early American period (1914) had reached full stride with the fever for things Filipino, ge nerally identified with the rural life. The challenge of Edades was thus at this time a mere faint, discorda nt note in the midst of public cheers for an artist com municating directly to an audience in perfect sym pathy with form and content, vision and style.

Portrait commissions flooded his studio. He was also actively teaching. He settled down to a busy schedule that became his professional routine. F or relaxation he continued to go on wee kend rides b.y car to sketch . He also owned a banca with which he traveled about with his friend s on hunting and painting trips . This activity must have been both artistically revitalizing and psychologically refreshing since in later years he would reminisce about them often, such as


to writer Neal Cruz (The Insurance Line, 1960): "My companions in those days were Miranda, Castaneda, . Pereira, and Ancheta . .. We used to go to Teresa, Montalban , and Marikina. We would be out for days. When we were tired of painting, we would put down our brushes, take our guns and go shooting birds. There were plenty of birds then. Even here, in Quezon City. This used to be open, you know. We used to come here to paint - San Francisco del Monte, Espana Extension, and here, right where this house stallds now. You know where the Ysmael Steel plant is? Well, that was our favorite spot. There was an old'stone house there - I think it's still there - where we used to rest. There were no roads then , but we used the river as our highway. We went by banca and docked where the bridge is now. The river used to be impassable during summer when it became choked with water lilies. Now they are growing kangkong in it."

116. Amo rsolo omong friends in one of his regular soiourns to th e countrys ide. With him otop the bomboo roft ore: Dominador Ca stanedo. (in bosteri ng trun ks) Ireneo Miranda (seated) Candido Alcantara ond Dr. Toribio He rrera.

Manila Art Lovers Gather Here

117 Th e Ph ilippines Free Press of March 31, 1928 featu res an art exhibi t 01 the Marb le Holl in Ayuntamiento whe re Amonolo works were included.

119. landscape 12路118)( 5路5/ 8路 oil on wood 1925. Courtesy of Mr. ond Mrs. Anlonio Aronelo


121. landscape 13 x 9路1/ 4. oil on wood panel Courtesy of Mr. luis Aronelo


n 1931, Amorsolo finished three large paintings that were sent to the Paris exposition. These paintings embrace both his genre themes and his anecdotal paintings, Amorsolo had pushed his interest in painting from portraiture to genre to his more ambitious, large-sized anecdotal pain tings. "The Conversion of the Filipinos", was one of his first themes, one which became a favorite over the years (variations of the theme were "The F irst Mass," "The Baptism of Humabon ," etc.). He began anecdotal work in the middle 20's, one particular piece taking him four years to complete because of attention to authenticity. He would first do large studies of various figures in the over-all com position before pain ting the final work. His main historical reference was Pigafetta's account. The whole decade of the twenties was An;lOrsolo's creative peak. He was flexing his artistic muscles, trying new ideas, fully confident of the dexterity of his brush ; his colors pure, but not garish , and his brushstrokes sure. He ha dominated his medium and he was looking for artistic challenges in terms of subject and scale.


122. Pearl Fisher - probably the panel representing Mindanao. one of three sent to the Poris Exposition; the other two depicted Luzon and Viso yos. From the photo collection o f the artist.


123. Poriroit S1vdy No dolo. 1925. From th e photo co ll edlon of th e ortist

124. Head study 5-112 )( 7路 3/ 8 oil on wood 1929. Courtesy of Mr. & Mrs. Antonio Aroneto

125. Sunsel in Cub oo 9-1 / 4 )( 13 - oil on wood panel 1922. Courtesy of Mr. luis Aroneto

126. Landscap e 13 x 16 . oil on wood ponel 1925. Courtesy o f Mr. lu is Aroneto


Amorsolo worked diligently , almost feverishly, and considering that fmancial rewards at the time were not commensurate to artistic success (he was paid what was considered a handsome fee of ?2,500 by the government for the three large works sent to Paris), in his own modest way, he prospered. By 1931 he had saved enough money to buy a lot on which to build a house for his family. Owning their own lot and house had been his wife salud's dream. Tragically a few months after making the last payment on the lot Salud fell ill and died after 20 days in the hospital. In the Philippines Free Press of May 2, 1931 a journalist friend, R. Joven, recounted Amorsolo's words: "Her life's dream was to build our own house with its own garden where the children could play freely, with one small floor entirely independent for my studio where) would be able to work and concentrate my five s!;!nses in my work without the least disturbance from anyone. For this we bought a lot in San Juan on installment. I proposed to construct immediately. But she, being more conservative, wanted to fmish paying for the lot first. It has been a few months since we succeeded in completing the payments for the lot. But now, ya ... " he concluded with a wilted movement of his shoulders - "What should I want a house for with its dueiia missing! " The same article records Amorsolo's grief: " I have attended many funerals, among them that of my own father. But I have never felt more moved than in the burial of the wife of Amorsolo. Near the burial pit where the coffin had just been lowered stood the husband, alone, with his immense pain and his six young ones: the youngest daughter in his arms and the other five, clinging mightily to him in an embrace, powerful and tender at the same time, capable of shattering with emotion even the stones of the cemetery. Only the deceased lay in the grass without moving before that tragic gesture of defense of Life in the face of Death. Nanding's eyes were bursting: I think that the tears instead of coming out were fIlling his insides ... " His wife Salud had not yet celebrated her 30th year when she died. 102

127. The ortist with his son Delfin in his Azcorrogo studio.


he bereaved widower had a family to care for. He busied himself with his painting and remained a widower for four years. On May 11,1935 he remarried. She was a woman from Marilao, Bulacan. He had met and courted her during his frequent stopovers in Marilao whenever hunting and sketching soujorns in the countryside took him to the area. Her name was Maria del Carmen. Her family owned a dry goods store where she attended to sales. With remarriage, Amorsolo's six children from the previous marriage were cared for, while the family increased and multiplied as over the years eight more children were delivered by Maria. His first

wife had contributed two boys, Fernando (now deceased) and Adrian, and four girls: Virginia, Soledad, Gracia and Salome. Maria in time presented him with two boys, Delftn and Milo (deceased) and six girls: Helen, Luz, Christina, Sylvia, Rosa and Emma. The large brood doubtless strained Amorsolo's bread-making endeavors, as through the years he stayed at his easel to provide for his family. His wife Maria recounted that she was given a day-to-day allowance to run the house. He led a modest life as he insisted on living on what he earned. Once, related someone who used to fre-

quent the Azcarraga studio, as AmorsCilo painted and conversed, a member of the family entered, bringing up some fmancial need. Amorsolo, apparently in a fit of exasperation, decrying the interruption and incessant pressures for money, picked up a small biscuit can where he deposited loose change as savings and threw it out the window. Money, he cried out, was not that important to him. The coins spilled on the narrow street and the urchins below scrambled about for the unexpected bonanza. A thrifty breadwinner who was always in dread of (alling into any kind of debt, it was apparently a rare, angry, gesture at the overwhelming materialistic demands on him. 103

128. Child ren of the Artist 31-3/ 4 )1 24 -3/ 4 . oil on convos 1947 Courtesy of Mrs Fernondo Amorsolo


Sunset Years


this point Amorsolo's artistic biography mellows. His output becomes largely the turning out of commissioned works, specially portraits. His genre pieces had become so popular that he was hard put to meet the deman ds made on him to paint a harvest scene or maidens gathering mangoes "like th at han ging in Mr. so-a nd-so's house." In fact, over the years , he took to photographing his ge nre works in blac k and white and mounting these in an album for prospective buyers to choose their subject and indicate the size they wanted. He did not make exact replicas, varying the size an d a few elements, but he no longer explored new material

129. President Quezon toking his Oath of Office.


and new experience. In 1939, an entry he submitted to the New York's World's Fair won a popular poll. The painting entitled " Afternoon Meal of the Rice Workers" was displayed in the International Business Machines Corporation's Gallery of Science and Art. Visitors to the fair were asked to cast a vote for their favorite piece and Amorsolo's painting garnered the most votes with the Japanese and Hungarian entries placing second and third, respectively. There were 79 countries represented, all where IBM products were used. The IBM weekly, Business Machines observed : " The fact that this is a popular vote which is being taken may explain to some extent why the pictures which have special appeal because of their careful execution and brightness of color are winning most applause." Weeks earlier in the same month , Amorsolo was appointed Acting Director of the School of Fine Arts of th e University of the Philippines. The official ap-

pointment from UP President Bienvenido M. Gonzales embellished the appointment "with rank of Associate Professor, Class "B", at a salary of four thousand twenty pesos (P4,020.00) per annum ... "

The decade of the thirties was a period of accelerated change. The American colonial government moved towards the creation of the Commonwealth government. In 1934 the constitutional convention opened, its work submitted to a plebiscite the following year; on November 15, 1935 the Commonwealth government under President Manuel Quezon was inaugurated. The civil service was established. The first China Clipper landed, opening air transport to this part of the world. Compulsory military training for all Filipino males 21 years of age was imposed while baseball came to the Philippine islands with Babe Ruth as the star personality. The Manila-Legaspi railroad line

brought the Bicol province, where Amorsolo grew up, only a day away from Manila. July 3, 1939 was observed as First Rice Planting Day giving official expression to what Amorsolo and his fellow genre artists glorified in the twenties. Tagalog was proclaimed the base for an offIcial national language, with an institute created to propagate it. It is in social change however that the thirties are noteworthy in the context of Amorsolo's art. There was the Sakdal uprising on May 2 and 3 in 1935. Previously, in 1931, in Pangasinan, a quasi-religious sect referred to as "colorums" unleashed the Tayug uprising. Both incidents indicated a social malaise. In 1936 there were workers' strikes, and in 1939 the National Labor Union was organized. As for the shy dalagita in Amorsolo's oils, she went out to exercise her right to vote for the first time on December 14, 1937. Carmen planas became the fIrst woman elected into offIce.



he Seco nd world War found him still working at his easel though the occupation years were particularly difficult for ar tists. Art collector Don Luis Araneta recounted how Amorsolo would come to his office with a small landscape and ask, somewh at hesitantly, if he could possibly get 1"30.00 for the work. A pencil self portrait done in the Christmas of 1944 (pla te 147) sh ows deep-sunken eyes, slightly wispier hair in contrast to th ose abundant waves of earlier years, and a sallow, melancholy air. The physical scars of trying times are etched in this Christmas docu ment. Amorsolo however continued making notes of life around him including Japanese soldiers; and when the battle to recapture Manila raged , he was by his window in his Azcarraga studio making swift notes in pencil.


Amorsolo was a diabetic , and the war years made medication extremely difficul . Businessman Chick Parsons (who throughout t e war was a US intelligence officer co mmuting by submarine from Australia to the Philippines) recounted that right after the battle of Manila he traveled about on motor scoo ter bringing drugs for the sick. Among those in need of insulin was painter Amorsolo whom Parsons found lying in bed in a dim corner of his studio. In gratitude, Amorsolo made a sketch and an oil portrait of Chick Parsons. The latter painting is in the possession of Parsons, whil e th e sketch is with the heirs of Amorsolo. (pla.t e 149) Out of th e war ex perience Amorsolo pro-

duced various paintings. Some are somewhat maudlin, such as rape scenes and that of the woman with a dead soldier in her arms, but many are actual views of Manila in flames, almost like a journalistic report. One picture was based on a sketch of a bomb ex ploding nearby and lighting up the Chinese pagoda of Ocampo, a celebrated Quiapo landmark even today. The oil sketch version (pla.te 144) bears an exact time and date: "5 :00 p.m. September 21 , 1944 ." One rough and rapid pencil sketch with writing indicating color notes also has a notation complaining that it was impossible to sleep because of the noise of the bombs and shelling. The war experience so moved him that aside from on-the-spot sketches of Japanese soldiers, of die actual bombing and refugees in the midst of those terrifying days when the Japanese were burning, looting and killing, and the Americans bombing and shelling the city to rubbl e, Amors<Dlo reacted by remaining at his studio. His family moved to safer quarters. Hardly had the smoke cleared when he acquired a pass to go and paint the ruins of Intramuros and other parts of devastated Manila. Few artists of this period can prove th eir reaction to the trauma of war with actual artistic output. While Manilefios in 1945 were picking up pieces to start life again, Amorsolo parleyed his artistic skill for needed cash and US army goods by doing quick sketches of GI's . His quick eye and sure pencil served him through those " honky tonk" days right after the war.

preceding pages 108 - J09 131. Afternoon Meal o f 'he Rice W o rkers, a copy of the painting sen t


the N ew York's W orld 's Fair of 1939 which won firs t prize in a populor vole. 15路 1/2 )( 11 . 1/2 . oi l on wood 1948. Co urtesy of Mr. Anse lm o Tri nidad

oppo site right 132. Detoi l from Ang Mgo Ulilo No do lo. f rom the photo co ll ection of the ortis t.



VISIONS O F TERROR The wor years were for Amorsolo a different experience. Fire and smoke were literally pu t down on ca nvas, as well as scenes of conquerors and victims, prisoners in Japan ese trucks, civi lians sitti ng o ut on oir raid, fleeing evacuees, all were iotted down as part of on artist's wor journal. Ou l of this war experience the "dologo" of Amorsolo was depicted as a madonna in stote of shock, kneeling over a dead hu sband, or clutching 0 baby in the midst of ruins.

opposite above 133. The Death of a #(otipunero 37-112 x 27路3/ 8 路 oil on canvas 1962. Courtesy o f Mr. An se lmo Trinidad opposite below 134. The Scovenger.s No doto . From the photo co ll ection of the ortist.

above 135. Composition (0 study) 10 x , .. . oil on canvas Undated. Courtesy of Mr . luis Aronelo

rig"t 136. Molher and Child (s tudy) . 8路 1/ .. x 10-3/ 4 . pencil on poper 19 ..... Courtesy of Mr. Philip Monserrol

137. Japanese Sold ' 8-112 x 11 - penci~o~e;~per 13& Figure .study lIC 11 - pencil on carlolina


139. Evacuees 8-112 Jt 5-1/ 2 - pencil on pa per 140. Evocuatjon

15 x 11 - penci l on pa per 141.1aponese Soldiers Pencil on paper 14'2. Civilians and 'apr:m .s Penc il or paper ~ entry


144. Exp losion Anno totion: Manila 5:20 p.m. September 21,1944 13)( 9路1/4. oil on wood panel 19路..... Courtesy of Mr. Luis Araneta


145. Sombing of the Intendencio 25路112 JC 17路3/ 4 . oil on canvas 1942. Courtesy of Jorge Vargas Filipiono Foundation



I. , ' . ~

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opposite left 146. Sketches of the Occupation

147. Self.Portraif

Penci l on poper Courtesy of the Amorsolo Estate

8路3' " x 10--3/ .. Charcoe Ion路 po per

Annotation: Christmas 19芦, 19芦. Courtesy of Cristy Amorso lo


148. Untitled 17-3/ 4 )( 9-3/ 4 - oil on canvas 1945_ Courtesy of Or_ Salvador de leon In this particu lar painting Amarsa lo, apparently in a mom ent of whimsy, pointed th e billowing smoke over the flaming ruin s, in the form of a Japanese sold ie r, rifle in hand, in a runn ing croach. A departure from his trad itional realism and the straig ht reportage of the events, it shows the artist's feelings and the mood of the event, but is not on element that is bizarre as in the case of surrealist works. In fact few would really notice th e ad vanci ng figure unless attention is called to it.



149, Portr o it s 8.112 â&#x20AC;˘ 11 . tudy of Chick P Courtesy of on cOrlol ' or sons




150, Grove 0 ' 15.1/2Cx 10. 314 'gger (sol d ' 19_5. . pencil ,e, on tonk) ourtesy of A

on paper morsolo Estate

151. Rizol Avenue in Ruins (Corner of Azcorrogo)

8·3/ 4 )( 6 . pencil on poper 1945. Courtesy of Amorsolo Estote

152. S'o. Domingo Church 8· 112 )( 11 • pencil on paper 19<45. Courtesy of Amorsolo Estate


153. Ru ins o f Son Francisco Church 19 x 12·112 • oil on masonite 1948. Courtesy o f Mr. Carlos Quiri no


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THE RIZAL PRO·PATRIA AWARD ith normalcy returning in 1948 a oneman-show was given in his honor, sponsored by the Art Association of the Philippines at the National Museum in Herran. The retrospective exhibition included his early Madrid pieces (1 919) as well as his most recent. The catalogue listed 51 paintings. The rumbles of pointed criticism now grew louder ; a two-page article (This Week, November 14, 1948) by Francisco Arcellana grumbled: "Pictures that do not speak, that do not shout - they have nothing to say; pictures that are not hard to understand there is nothing to understand ." Amorsolo retired from the directorship and active teaching practice at the UP in 1952. The closing two decades of his life, the 50 's and 60 's were lived within the confines of his studio. Every day he painted from sunrise to sunset. The works were commissioned ones in which he could incorporate no new ideas, no new challenges, and no new emotions. He worked on a long, endless list of portraits. He had to turn down 50 per cent of commissions. Exce pt for an occasional movie or treat out to some restaurant like Selecta or Panciteria Moderna he barely left his easel. Amorsolo could seldom go now to the countryside that he loved to sketch. A cataract began to coat his eye and his sight began to fail. An operation was found necessary in 1969. There is supposed to be some marked im provement between his works before and after the operation. What is more apparent however is that his paintings from 1935 onwards had dissolved into softer brush work, sweeter colors, and subdued composition. Honors were sporadically thrown his way as the community in a fit of nostalgia, every once in a while remembered him : The Outstanding UP Alumnus Award in 1940, the Rizal Pro-patria Award ,and an honorary doctorate in humanities from FEU 'in 196 1, the Araw ng Maynila Award in 1963, the Republic Cultural Heritage Award in 1967, ani! so on. Often he did not even step out to accept tbe honors. During these last two decades after the 1948 one-man show of Amorsolo, the controversy be-




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15.4. The citation for the Rizol Pro· Patria Award to Fernando Amorsolo

tween the Amorsolo school and the moderns which started in 1928, developed into an earnest conflict. The press was now more vocal on the side of the moderns. Quarrels led to the breakaway of the conservatives from the AAP. Through it all, Amorsolo never uttered a word in public for or against either side . Yet both factions insisted on making him the symbolic crux of the art issue. Only when the moderns had obviously won their fight for recognition and acclaim did they pause to acknowledge the maestro. In 1960 a special issue on Amorsolo was put out by the Insular Life-FGU Insurance Group_ Fernando Zobel, one of the most vocal exponents of modern art in the Philippines, wrote about Amorsolo's contributions: "For the first time, the true color of the Philippines was transferred tCil canvas in all its blinding brilliance. Curiously enough the lesson seems to have heel! ~ost ~n his self-styled followers. Paradoxicall.y~ it ~ 'the moderns who have used the tool aJdl ~ 'are most indebted to him for liberation 'fr-eltl ttbe 'brown sauce' of atademit painting. ... A~o by his craftsmanship, set a high 'standara, ?rnd again paradoxically it was the 0N'0nents of 1his 'style who profited : they ICQuld not afford to [pain t less well or less skillfully than the leader of·ilfe older group." Strong overtones of the cont't:oversy remain in the text but the

moderns had gained enough legitimacy and selfconfidence for Zobel to acknowledge " ... the man who, with endless patience, kindness and good humor, taught me almost twenty five years ago to mix my first colors and to use my first brushes. In fact, he has taught an entire generation of painters to paint and perhaps the moment has come to thank the teacher." A one-man retrospective show was regarded as the fitting inaugural of the Manila Hilton Art Centre in 1969. By coincidence a restrospective show of his protagonist Victotio Edades followed shortly at the Malacaiiang Palace, like a shadow re-enactment of long vanished clashes. But among painters and critics there was little interest in finding fault or virtue, as most saw both exhibits as either paintings to see, or as documents of an academic debate long over. The flames of youthful challenge and combat had subsided. Both protagonists were conceded their due places of honor.


he 50's and the 60's were turbulent petiods of change, not just in art but in the nation as a whole. While Amorsolo stood transfixed in his studio sutrounded by stiff, semismiling portraits in different stages of completion, the sweet da14ga that was his theme from the 20's had become a coed in T-shirt and mini-skirt hurling Tagalog invectives and stones at the police in street demonstrations. In January of 1970, student activism had hit the explosive point. Young boys and girls tried to storm the Malacanang Palace resulting in an all night battle with the police and the military that caused the death of seven people, mostly by-standers. The countryside, depicted with tranquility in happy pastorals in Amorsolo paintings, had become a scene of unrest and change too. Agrarian problems were rooted farther back than the 50 's, expressing themselves in Rizal's time and continuing with the Sakdal movement during the Ametican Regime in the 30's, taking form in the Huk movement of postwar years. They turned the countryside into battlefields where quiet could

simply be the ominous sound of terrorism . There was also change in terms of modern agricultural methods and industrial landmarks intruding into the countryside. Jet planes, concrete roads, and billboards, factories and chemical products like DDT raised the spectre of pollution. Amorsolo himself often recalled that the Ysmael Steel plant near the Cubao commercial center was once a favorite hunting and sketching area of his, reached by banca. It is probably neither possible nor fair to expect Amorsolo to have changed his painting theme and style in th e face of such changes. The fact is that changes had come about. The pertinent point is not so much the change in itself, as the fact that it was generational. The new generation found it difficult to appreciate the past. The abstract art movement ,'in full swing in Europe when Amorsolo was there in 1919, had become a world trend. Young Filipino artists returned from the U.S. with new ideas and techniques. The disparity between Amorsolo's paintings and that of the art of the 70 's is a difference in terms of generations. Amorsolo was most expressive of the 20's ; and 40 years had elapsed by the time the generation of the 70 's entered the scene.

155. Amorsolo receivi ng on honorary doctorale from the Fo r Eostern




he Hres of Amorsolo's youth in the 20's had dimmed over the years while he dilingently painted the commissioned pieces on which he existed. Occasionally he had models pose in the nude and would do quick sketches in oil. These were his last vigorous pieces. Physically, he was beginning to falter. Aside from his diabetes, he suffered from arthritis and complained of headaches and occasional dizziness. On several occasions his family found him unconscious in his studio. Once he fainted in the men's room of a movie house. He had trouble with his hearing, so he under~ent an operation in 1971. He was uneasy about medical checkups and hospitalization; frightened of such a financial drain on his modest resources. He had, after living for decades in a rented accessoria on Azcarraga street, managed to buy a house and lot for his family, his wife Maria throwing in her own savings. The family talked of a vacation in Baguio. There were excited preparations, even a new "americana" which his wife made him tryon. Seeing himself before the mirror' in his new coat Amorsolo observed: "I am really very old and thin. Maganda ang americana," he smiled, "puede ng pamburol." A severe nagging cough rode his chest. Nevertheless on February 26, 1972 he went to grandiose Forbes Park with his daughter Sylvia, who assisted him in his painting, to comply with an appointment; he was to have Sylvia take photos of Mr. Albino Sycip for a commissioned portrait. On the way home he complained of feeling very tired. In the afternoon 70 American tourists invaded his home without notice, and

although Amorsolo tried to seclude himself the Filipino tourist guide persuaded him to finally exhibit himself. Apologizing that he was too tired to entertain them, he sat quietly while the tourists snapped their cameras. He was coughing. By midnight he was at the emergency room of St. Luke's. He then went in and out of the hospitals faltering between recovery and crisis. Finally the doctor permitted him to leave, and he excitedly marked the hours until he found himself back in his home and studio welcomed by kisses &om a multitude of children and grandchildren. Sitting on his wheelchair he wept, and the tears did not stop while he sat with his offspring and then alone in his studio. That same night he was ru shed back to the hospital, first to the Quezon Institute and then to St. Luke's where he lay in his bed muttering that he wanted to go home and paint. One of his children asked him: "Papa, do you feel some pain? " Amorsolo shook his head; and then died.


who knew Amorsolo remember him as a generous person. His many children and needy friends were often recipients of his financial generosity. Every Saturday the married children with their children would come for lunch and he would distribute money. Many struggling artists frequently visited the maestro (up to the time of his death) and were beneficiaries of his largesse. Despite his national fame, and a full lifetime of diligence at the easel, he left his widow and 14 children, an old car valued at 1'10,000 (the house and lot were in his wife 's name) and a trunkful of drawings and sketches, various paintings specifically signed to the particular recipient in the family, and a clutter of unclaimed commissioned portraits standing in 'easels in his studio.

opposite left 156. The Artist's Studio




The Artist in His Studio

ay in the Amorsolo studio began at about 4 :30 in the morning; a starting time one would associate with the dalaga in Arnorsolo's barrio-life paintings but hardly with a citified artis t-celebrity. In the dim light he would clean his own working area, even husking the floor himself, putting aside any protest about this by claiming it served as healthy exercise. Having cleaned his studio, he would ~hen take a shower and groo m himself to be ready at six o'clock for a breakfast of coffee (in later years decaffeinated Sanka), toast bread with butter, eggs, and some cheese. He also liked fruit, generally papaya, apples and prunes. By the time he was through eating, the sun was bright enough to start painting. Although he painted also with artificial light, he relied mainly on the available light that ftItered through his windows. Working steadily, he would stop only for lunch the n immediately return to work quitting only whe n it became too dark, usually around six o'clock in the afternoon. He would then carefully clean his palette and brushes , soaking them in a little gasoline and rinsing them with soap. At aro und seven he would take his dinner, his preference here being fish , vegetables and fruits. He was partial to Bicol dishes, sligh tly spicy and hot, thick with coconut milk. While in younger days he sometimes stayed up all night painting, in later years he was in bed by 8:30 p.m. Amorsolo used a medium-sized wooden palette. The last one he used was given to him by the Angon o artist Carlos Francisco. On his palette he would arrange his colors from light to dark. Favoring the Grumbacher brand, his colors were arranged thus: white, chrome yellow, yelloworange, yellow ochre, raw sienna, burnt sienna, light red , vermillion red, alizarin crimson, ultra-


marine blue, viridian green, and black. Explained his daughter Sylvia: "The colors are always arranged in the same position from darker to lighter shades, black to grey, to blue to green to carmine to ochre to yellow to white. Sometimes he doesn't even look at his palette if he wants this or that color." For flesh tones he mixed yellow ochre, raw sienna and light red with touches of black and white. His brushes, of various sizes, flat bristles and round sables, were also Grumbacher. He mixed linseed oil with Japanese dryer as he painted. His preference was for smooth canvas, although he did not use linen types specially made for painting as this was not readily available. He would satisfy himself with canvas material available for various commercial uses which he bought at Hap Siong's on calle Nueva, in Chinatown. The canvas was given several coatings and sanded smooth; any rough thread was removed with a razor blade. The fmal primer was a light neutral grey. A helper by the name of Oscar Espiritu prepared and stretched his canvas. His sons-in-law, Oscar Dar Juan and Andy Valdez, took over the chore when Espiritu died, until another helper, Fernando Aquino, took over the chore. His freshly primed canvas was then scaled into squares and the outline (what European painters called "cartoon") was transferred by his helpers; from a photograph in the case of a portrait, or a painting or pencil sketch in the case of a genre or historical piece. This process is reminiscent of the studio-workshops of early European painters , but obviously such a routine left little, if any room, for creative experimentation. Amorsolo would merely dab the colors in. In later periods he employed various helpers, painters like Dominador Castaneda or his many children. "I feel that I am producing too much," he once complained (Free Press, July 19, 1958). Right now, I have some 80 orders and I am up to my neck in work. I would like to rest and put more time into my art-for-art's-sake stuff." He averaged more than ten paintings a month. To relieve the tedium of doing paintings whose aesthetic problems he had solved long ago and

towards which he was simply applying his expe路 rienced craft , he would shift from one painting to another, from portrait to genre and back to portrait. His assistants applied themselves to the routine areas such as backgrounds, clothing and hands. A radio played softly as Amorsolo applied the finaJ touches. His orders were numerous, 80 per cent being for portraits. He painted all the Presidents of the Philippine Republic, some more than once. He once had to paint 12 copies of a painting depicting the landing of MacArthur. The finished paintings are given a coat of varnish, then framed in solid narra. These frames were originally hand-crafted by a Chinese named "Asi"; when this carpenter died Mr. Sacharis Cruz assumed the task. The frames are uniformly of one style, and are popularly called "Amorsolo type."


or these efforts Amorsolo, up to his last day of painting, charged a maximum of 1"5,000 for a half- bust likeness. He no longer accepted life-sized full-length portraits. The average fee he charged was 1'"3,000 for a portrait. Writing in 1958, Jose Quirino recorded the following price list: "Amorsolo sells paintings depicting Philippine scenes from 1'200 for 16-inch by 20-inch canvas, up to 1'1 ,000 depending on the size of the piece. For portraiture , he charged from ,.400 to 1'500 for bust portraits and 1"1 ,000 for full-length likenesses. The presidentiaJ portraits cost t>l,250 each." Quirino also records that his prize路winning " Afternoon Meal of the Rice Workers" was sold for 1'300 in the 1939 World's F air. Pricing in relation to his work may have contributed to his attitude of reducing his ap' proach to th at of a craftsman, considering that local patronage apparently did not regard artistic merit as worth anything in fmanciaJ terms. Lamented Amorsolo (Graphic, December 4, 1929) " Despite our reputation as artists, our culture in the field of art is anything but developed. As a whole, we cannot yet properly appreciate the intrinsic value of paintings, and for this reason, are not inclined to pay what should be paid for them , viewing them in a materiaJ light.

"A rich man from th e province came to me once and wanted to have a portrait of him done. He described just what he wanted - size, type of painting, etc . - and asked for an estimate. I told him five hundred pesos - an amount which o ne of his wealth should consider nothing and which is really a low price. I could get two th ousa nd for a portrait such as he wanted in the States. Do you know how he took my estimate? He was aghast. 'Why' he said, 'I could bu y a house for that sum! ' Which is perfectly tru e - but it just shows you wh at local artists may ex pect from even our moneyed class. " And yet, we try to make our prices reasonable. The way I fix my prices is this: t o the cost of the materials, I add what an ordinary painter those people who paint houses, make signs, and so on - would ear n during the tim e it took me to make th e picture, plus what I consider, the difference between a common painter and an ar.tist is reasonably worth . Neverth eless, some people do not seem to think th at is fair." And to Jose Quirino about 20 years later he also narra ted: " Before the war, I used to go to the provinces to paint scenes from life .. .In one of my trips to Sariaya, Quezon, several kibitzers gathered around me as I was sketching a ricefield then. 'How many paintings can you finish a day?' one of them asked. 'O ne or two' I answered. 'Is that all? You are lucky if you can sell that painting for ten pesos , the kibitzer needl ed me." "On another occasion ," Quirino's article continues, "not long ago, a ranking govern ment officiaJ approached th e old maestro and asked him about the prices of his paintings. The officiaJ raised his eyebrows in disbelief when Am orsolo quoted prices and said. 'Why, I can get Leonardo Da Vinci 's Last Supper from a certain com pany for onlyf>25.' The pseud o-art conn oisse ur did not know the difference between an originaJ pai nting and a lithograph copy of th e sa me." (Free Press, July 19 , 1958 )



he Amorsolo method of working in the last two to three decades, explains quite pointedly why there were less and less signs of creativity, less striving for originality from his own established self. He no longer even bothered with other mediums like watercolor and pastel, much less the newer ones like acrylic. His only respite was when he would have a model pose in the nude and he would do quick 30min ute oil sketches for the fun of it. He originally intended to give these small works to each of his many children, but when art collectors heard of this type of work some were also disposed of. Even in this activity he once joked: "Models cost money. I try to fmish as many studies as I can in one hour so I can get my investment back" (Neal Cruz, Insurance Line, 1960). In his more vibrant years, Amorsolo's method involved much probing wtth pencil and charcoal, as well as oil color notes. His portraits were painted with the subjects posi g for a few sittings. (plate 198) Then, Philippine Presidents, includin g Man uel Quezon, fidgeted while he painted them. Also he would conceive the anecdotal paintings by first doing some reading, mostly Pigaffeta's descriptio ns of prehispanic Philippines. In early days he would even consult scholars like Pardo de Tavera and Epifanio de los Santos. For anecdotal paintings he crystallized his impressions through various pencil studies of the entire composition, first jotting down the different elements and then sketching in the totality, changing a pose here, moving a figure there, until all the pieces fitted cohesively (plate 219). Out of the overall picture followed detail studies; countless figure notes, close - u p exercises of hands, facial expressions, and the fall of drapery. He researched into period costumes and settings through readings (a favorite being Pedro Ortiz Armengol's " Intramuros de Manila") and a collection of photographs and old prints. A small oil sketch indicating the color scheme was then dashed off (plate 159). These works (bosetos) are oft en preferred by collectors to the finished ones 132

157. A model in Amorsolo's studio with pointing in the background showing

the same pose.

ecause of their spontaneity and fresh , bold, brush strokes disregarding detail. After such an exhaustive stage, it :ill became a matter of transfering the final piece on large canvas. Here he would use the renaissance method of scale markings to transfer the cartoon. It became almost a mechanical exercise to paint the final piece. All the problems had been solved. Any struggle by the artist had been overcome earlier, and what was demanded of the final piece was polished, flawless rendering. (plate 201) This method naturally created a stiff, somewhat overworked, and slickly unreal rendition. Such a method, however, became ultimately the act of creation for Amorsolo in the last decades. Subsequently, he limited himself to the repeat performance of his tried and tested repertoii.e of paintings, no longer engaging in the hesitations, the faltering and the inspired daring that occur when an artist holds a brush and releases his energy before a blank canvas. It was ultimately the "action painters" of the 50's and 60's who sought to document and make the creative struggle the subject of painting, quite the opposite of what Amorsolo aimed for, which was the art of concealing art.

abo ve 158. Sikatuna la study) 15路 )12)1 11 路112 - oil on canvas board 1962. Courtesy of Ora. Poz Flores right 159. Study on historical wark 12-5/ 8 x 9路518 . oil on canVQS Undated . Courtesy of Oro. Poz Flo res

In his first works Amorsolo reportedly worked four years to complete one such life-sized anecdotal painting. Very often his own family would be conscripted as models for a particular study. His son Adrian posed as the dead soldier in his Bataan painting (plate 133). and his various daughters posed for many genre works. Incidentally this accounts too for the dalagang Filipina look of his many paintings, they were not just due to models he chose for their facial types, they were often his own children, some of his daughters who bear his own features. There were times when he would devote the day exclusively to making these pencil studies. Each charcoal study would take only about five minutes. (plate 136, 173 & 234)


here was, on the other hand, also the Amorsolo method of working outdoors, on the spot. Here was a different atm0sphere. He pain ted feverishly. "You have to work fast outdoors" he said in one interview (Insurance Line, 1960, Neal Cruz). "Light changes very rapidly and you have to be fast in order to catch the mood with which you started out. This is particularly true with sunsets. (plate 125) A sunset sky will turn from red to orange to yellow in a matter of minutes", adding further that he limited himself to "fifteen minutes... when pain ting a sunset scene". The change from studio to open air, from painting after meticulous study to working ala-prima without retouching, was a form of recharging his creative batteries. That he associated these sketching trips with a happy past among his friends, with hunting and other physical activity in contrast to the solitary existence in his studio, explains why such works are charged with life. On this method he told Nick Joaquin (Homage to the Maestro, Free Press, Quijano de Manila 1969): "When I came back from Spain I did nothing but paint and paint out in the open, studying the light, Maski sa Espana, kung nagpipinta ako, diyan ako nagpipinta sa liwanag na liwanag. Wala akong ginawa kundi mag-observe." Painting and observing simultaneously, working quickly without the thought of retouching, chal134

lenged the skill and the vlSlon of Amorsolo whereas perfecting already tried and true concepts in the studio brought out only facility. The on-the-spot brush strokes were strong, thickly applied. (plate 87, 99 & 119) In the excitement of getting the splash of light, the bravura application of a few dabs to indicate a woman's bandana (plate 1M) and the heavy impasto of sky or background became marks of his earlier peices. As he slowly relinquished his on-the-spot working techique, his works lost that first-hand contact between artist and experience, the " vision-of-themoment" effect that Velazquez sought. The freedom he enjoyed with this on-thespot method exhilarated him, and this exhilaration was imprinted in these landscapes. Ralph W. Hawkins writing for The Independent, on November 9, 1929, noted Arnorsolo's feelings about landscape painting: "He confided that when he first began his career as a painter he had a decided p~eference for portrait painting. He mastered this phase of painting. But as he had more and more portraits to paint, his preference changed to the painting of nature scenes and typical Filipino life. The reason for the change is his desire to paint as he feels. When painting a portrait, he explairied, he is bound by the taste of the subject of the portrait. He feels stifled, fettered. In painting nature studies, his fetters are cut loose, and he paints in absolute freedom of spirit. And that is how he wants to paint."


he Amorsolo studio was a quiet area, although his grandchildren often broke the stillness of his sanctuary. One grandchild applied his own touches with black paint on an Amorsolo work; the artist smiled tolerantly, wiped off the vandalism and began again. Visitors were entertained inside the studio, and he would graciously take time out from painting to converse. He was always a gracious host. In the studio, there was a forest of easels crowding the working space where paintings stood, mostly portraits in various stages of fmish . He would work on one for about three hours, and then take up another to escape the tedium. Always the radio played softly. He sat on a comfortable armchair

padded with pillows. Along the walls there hung paintings; in his Azcarraga studio the paintings hanging were his favorite works, but in his last years in 39 Cordillera, Quezon City, they were mostly unclaimed portraits. Beside his chair was an album where he kept photographs of his genre works to show prospective clients. There were shelves on one wall with books, and scrapbooks, as well as his memorabilia; and albums of his thousands of sketches and drawings, some as early as 1911. On one wall was a picture of a young girl on a stream with bamboo in the background. She was in the nude, covering herself strategically with a piece of cloth while a female companion helped her. It was a photo taken by Amorsolo which looked like his paintings. In fact, he did a painting version of his photograph. (plate 115) In the past also he had a collection of stuffed birds in his studio; trophies of his hunting trips. There were supposed to have been more than 200 in his collection. His many landscape sketches were stored in his studio in the past, but

were subsequently placed elsewhere when things became too crowded and termites invaded his working area. One cache of 40 such Hbosetos" mostly done in 1929 was accidentally discovered some years back, and Amorsolo himself was surprised they were around. He distributed these to his wife and children. This studio became his only world more and more in his last years; so much so that in 1960, 12 years before his death a writer (Neal Cruz, HA Portrait of A morsolo,") described him as "By character a recluse ... " Notes from an unpublished interview (October 2, 1962) by historian Marcelino Foronda reveal how totally Arnorsolo had cut himself off from the art world; in a query about local art critics the artist replied: H â&#x20AC;˘ â&#x20AC;˘ hindi ko nababasa ang kanilang criticism. Ako'y nahiwalay na sa mga art movements dito. Hindi na ako nagpapanood sa mga art exhibits" (HI have not read their criticism. I have been separated from the art movements here. I no longer view art exhibits.") 135

161. 8in109 ng Pongonoy

33-31~ x 23-112 - oil on canvas 1961. Courtesy of Mr. Alberto Cacn io

IV. An Amorsolo Gallery


orsolo's great body of works can be classified into several groupings. Although it is not yet possible to record and catalogue all his works which numb er in the th ousands (many of them burned during the war or in the collection of foreigners abroad), still a representative sa mpling exists. First , there are his color studies: quick impressions of the moment in oil. These color studies consist of nudes done in his studio particularly in his later years, lan dscapes pain ted on-the-spot specially in his earlier years when he was able to travel abou t more, and notes for anecdotal pieces. Out of such color studies Amorsolo would crea te his genre pieces and his paintings with historical subject or anecdotal paintings . (plate 135. 152 & 158) econd, there are th e genre pieces: a combina tion f landscape and figure , with the figures carefully composed into a harmonious balance (plate 94, J I & 235). The sa me is tru e of the third grou p, the ecdotal paintings. Here however th e subject is more grandiose, the canvas larger ; and consequently there is great attention to authenticity of detail such as in the costume, and more explicit finish. (plat e :2/ 9) A fourth gro up is his portraiture: some of them finished instantly, others over a longer period , th e products of tedium, depending upon the interest and mood of the painter and probably his reac tio n to the sitter. (plnt e 123, 166 & 180) Finally, there are the paintings which he did of the ravages of the last war which are a group by themselves, painted during a trying period when its effects were still dominant in th e artist's consciousness. (plnt e 145, 148, & 208)

One can also view the tota l artistic output of Amorsolo chronologically, from his earliest drawings to the last piece done some months before he died. While some have claimed that there had been no growth and no change in Amorsolo's works from beginning to end, a simple loo k at the works in chronological fashion refutes such a contention. There are recurring themes, and outright repetitions of su bjec t matter; but develop138

162. Por/roit of 0 Dotu No do lo. From th e photo collection of th e or lis t.

ments and changes are evident. Changes may seem too subtle, but over a long period it is apparent that Amorsolo 's painting began with vigorous emphasis on light and shadow reinforced by solid drawing, and slowly transformed itself with emphasis on color until the over-all fmish had softened lines, brush strokes, color and drama in later works. Copies of his works done over the years are what give the impression of non-change. It is highly rewarding to view Amorsolo by grouping his works into the color studies, the genre pieces, his anecdotal paintings, his pictures of the war, and his portraits, and then studying the variations in style and quality in these works in the context of his chronological development. For example he suffered a cataract in his eye in his later years and this naturally affected his work; a subsequent eye operation may have again shar pened his vision.


he color studies were mostly painted on wood or lawanit-board panels , usuall y 9 1/4 "x 13" in size, and previously given a ligh -grey primer. He worked directly with oil and brush. The studies are of three varieties: th e landscapes, the nudes, and the color notes for his anecdotal paintings. While both the nudes and the

notes for his anecdotal pain tings were meant to be studies (or bosetos), the landscapes were all finished paintings. The landscapes were completed on-the-spot during his sojourns. (plate // Y. :lO / & 224) They could belong to a group of their own. Many of these color studies are among his most appealing works because they contain the spontaneity of the moment, unlike his larger, more formal paintings which are usually contrived, and occasionally suffer from the overkill of the master's finishing skill. The brush strokes are vigorous in the color studies, the colors pure, the composition unmarred by details. Amorsolo's genre pieces on the other hand are carefully worked out products of preliminary pencil and oil color studies. (plate 7) The figures are thoughtfully arranged - "composition" being a major preoccupation of artists of the period. This explains why in many paintings certain figures recur. The figures are regarded as mere elements for use in a final painting; ingredients with which the artist found endless variations. At his best the genre pieces sparkle with freshness, the sunlight bursting behind a smiling daZagita carrying a basket or water playing on the skin of a woman bathing. The weaker paintings suffer from being over-contrived, stage-

managed; with the play of sunlight and color, flame trees or brigh t colored parasols distrac ting the viewer. orsolo ' s anecdotal paintings, while his most ambitious, are the least successful as paintings. They are an odd mLxture of th e grand manner of the school of Luna and the soft compositions and sweet colors of the genre pain ters. Somehow the dramatic impact and th e total visual effect lack the power and movement needed for such efforts. Because the anecdotal tells a story, it must do so effectively without appearing as mere magazine illustration . More im portant still, the fl1lal work must stand up as painting, in terms of organization of color, space, and emotional impact. To my mind the paintings turn somewhat flat because of emphasis on details, because the postures are somewhat theatrical , and because there is an overall even and soft finish. As early as 1925, critic Ignacio Manlapaz looking at the painting. "The Meeting of Goiti and LakanduZa", noted: "But I am not sure if such a them e as this is for his brush. It suits that of more violent artists like Luna better than his own. His picture lacks the virile note which is so essen tial to canvases of this stripe."



Amorsolo himself however was inclined to anecdotal painting. In a 1939 interview he said: " I have painted hundreds of objects and I have gone far and near to satisfy the tumultuous craving in my heart. But there is not one which has thrilled me and given me more satisfaction than "Th e First Baptism in the Philippines" (plal e 164), a large historical painting which was ordered and paid for by the Cebu High School. In the first place, the picture . is of historic significance ; it depicts a very historical event in our history . The rendering of the whole composition is really in accordance with my art, and to my min d, my colors were in perfect harmony." In another interview published earlier a similar passage confirms Amorsolo's partiality to wards his anecdotal paintings. "He (Amorsolo) showe d me a painting of the conversion of the natives by Magellan in Cebu. The sweet soft face of a quee n kneeling before the cros~ arrested my attention. Mr. Amorsolo explained that he had been inspired by his young daughter's face and had used her as his model. This painting is regarded by Mr. Amorsolo as one of his best wor ks... Oth er works which he considers as his best are 'The Dance' and 'History of Music' both now hanging in the lobby of the Metropolitan Theatre." Amorsolo's keen interest and delight in working on th ese paintings are readily seen by the great care and effort he would take to complete this type of painting. He would do extensive reading research, seek personal advice from such noted figures as Pardo de Tavera and Epifanio de los Santos, and then do numerous drawings using models for each individual figure. He would make color studies. Such paintings much larger than his genre works, would be finalized only after thorough preliminary studies.

preceding pages 140 . 141 16 4. Flfst Mo ss in the Philipp ines 51 -112 )( 3-4 -1/ 2 路 oil on convos Undated. Cour tesy of Ayo la Corpora tion


165. The artist in fronl of his mural "The Donee" ot Ihe Melropol ilon Theoler. From the photo collection of the ortist.



ecause Amorsolo was a portraitist by inclination and training, taking after Fabian de 1a Rosa, some of his best works are portraits; but it must also be said that because portraiture was a major source of clientele and income, he produced countless run-of-the-mill ones. The art of portraiture is most vulnerable to the direct pressures of the paying client, and therefore open to compromise and the imposition of the patron's taste in place of the artist's vision. The studio of Amorsolo is still filled today with about half a dozen portraits in various stages of completion, unclaimed or unfinished because the clients did not like the way they were made to look. They stand as mute testimony to the ordeals of portrait painting and the clients' toll on creativity. "Then again, there are those who wish to appear better on canvas than in real life. Such people are really very trying. When they tell me to paint their lips, eyes, etc., prettier than they really are, I get irritated," Amorsolo once remarked. In one major group exhibit in 1928 ctitic Manlapaz praised one Amorsolo genre as " ... perhaps the best canvas wrought in our time.", and then noted: "The portraits, e.g., that of Lim Chit Co. are too fmished. But the sitters like them that way. So there you are." On the hazards of portrait painting and their effects on the fmal work, Castaneda observed: "Sitters have the tendency to ask repeated corrections, such as trimming down an over-sized nose, toning down deep shaped features to obtain softer hence, nicer effect, altering of the coiffure (in female portraits) and similar changes. These imposltlons necessitate over-pamtmg, which result in the dissipation of the freshness of effect. It is said that Velazquez, the foremost Spanish realist, when irritated by the whims of his subject, would rather erase totally even a nearly accomplished head then start, rather than resort to capticious corrections. De la Rosa tried this technique once, and the sitter felt insulted. At another time, he patiently dissuaded the sitter from continuing with the whole work, and the client became infuriated."

Such are the ordeals of portraiture. The effects of corrections and overpainting produce a labored quality. The demand from sitters to render every detail, particularly jewelry and embrodiery designs, further diluted the freshness of the Amorsolo touch. Nevertheless Amorsolo was a master portraitist, since his forte was figure painting. Even his genre works are essentially of people, with the landscape and rendering of light serving as dements to bring out a face or several figures. He liked to do portraits of members of his family . (plate 128) He even did self-portraits. (plate 1. 65, & 147) A portrait of his first wife Salud, (plate 53) and of his children with his second wife are among his best works. It was only therefore in depressed moments, or with a particularly demanding sitter, that his portraits suffered, or when the sitter was a colorless and lifeless image. The demand for portraiture on given deadlines made him rely on assistants, particularly in his路 later years - thus further affecting the quality of his work. rom a chronological viewpoint, the art of Amorsolo followed the expected patterns of early influences that culminated in a personal style which ultimately became such a trademark it was almost a cliche. His earliest influence was no doubt Fabian de 1a Rosa who served as the direct link to traditional Philippine painting. Unlike Luna and Hidalgo before him de la Rosa painted mostly genre . De la Rosa was the transition between the end of the Spanish period and the beginning of the American occupation. Amorsolo represented in this historic context, the American period until the end of World War II. Amorsolo apprenticed in Fabian de 1a Rosa's studio. The genre subjects often attributed to Amorsolo were common among the painters of the time. Fabian de la Rosa and Jorge Pineda were the chief exponents. De la Rosa was also fond of landscapes, painting in the Marikina area. And having been abroad twice, even tried to incorporate some of the im路pressionist influences


left 166. Padro;' of a Young Girl


9路 112 x 13 . oil on wood ponel 1923. Courlesy of Mr. luis Aroneto


his landsca pes a pplying colors on the canva~ with a minimum of previous mixing in the pallete. Amorsolo doubtless learned much from his mother's cousin . The similarity in some landsca pes between the two shows the early influ ence of de la Rosa . There is an anecdote concerning a small pain ting, now owned by Mr. Antonio Bantug which at the back carried an inscription from Amorsolo to Bantug's father but the grime of years had covered the signature on th e paintin g. When in later years the painting was brought to Amorsolo , he idenU1

A second early influence was Rafael Enriquez the director of th e school of art. Enriguez lectured on the attributes of Velazguez; but Amorsolo observed that ", .. he was not a very good painter: too classical." On another professor then , Miguel Zaragosa, Amorsolo said: " ... 1 learned from him the use of color." Amorsolo had also read magazines on art; the reproductions of paintings of various artists from abroad stimulated the development of his own style. On this point the influence of printed mass media in the development of art in the

167. Landscape by Fabion de 10 Rosa which even

tified the work as his. addin g that he had painted it in San Juan; and he put a fresh signature on. However, when th e painting was subsequently cleaned by a restorer th e new signature of Am orsolo vanished along with the grime underneath it. and the signature of Fabian de la Rosa su rfac ed ! Am o rsolo said about de la Rosa: "I was almost wh olly under him ; he was good at the figure; but my training und er Don Fabian did not last long because he left for Europe." HAng painting ni Don Fabian maciaming adorno ," was another observatio n of Am o rsolo o n de la Rosa. 146

Amotsolo thought was one of his.

11路112 x 8-3/ 8 . oil on wood board Courtesy of Mr. Antonio Bantug

Philippines cannot be underestimated. Amorsolo 's trip to Spain and the United States doubtless created a lasting influence on his p~inting. He visited museums. He made many drawings and sketches. Although a young man of 27. he apparently spent little time for pleasure abroad. devoting all his energies to his art. In Spain. the paintings of Zuluoga and Sorol1a im pressed him most. The unusually high eye-level view in his many genre works . as though looking

from a window or higher vantage point, is one of the characteristics of the works of SorolIa. The wet look of the skin of bathing figures, th e splendor of the Valencia sunlight and the glamorization of the Spanish peasant, are typical of Sorolla. However, Soro11a employed broader brushstrokes and his best pieces emphasized the tragic life of peasants rather than their happy hours. (plalc 37). Seeing the works of Velasquez in the Prado Museum, and even copying one of his works, Amorsolo anchored himself with the traditional. "Amorsolo experimented with Velazquez's use of delicate grays in his pigments. And also attracted by the bright colors of Monet and other impressionists, like Sorolla and Renoir, he used these bright colors but toning them down with the delicate grays of Velazquez. With this gray and his usually superlative sensitivity to the split differences of values, he achieved the softening down of the brilliant reds, yellows and blues, and their corresponding complementaries, sufficiently to the point where hues contrasted with each other yet remained in remarkable harm ny. Thus the Amorsolo color was born ," revealed AmorsoJo's colleague Castaneda. Art historian Castaneda also attributes the "vision of the moment " technique of Velasquez as a second affinity of Amorsolo to the Spanish master. This vision-ofthe-moment seeks a total unity of all elements through a rendering of the relationship of all the various parts as perceived at a glance. This is one reason why Amorsolo's anecdotal historical paintings lack the spontaneity ' and freshness of his other works ; in striving for authenticity Amorsolo applied details that took away from his best works the "at-one-glance" or vision-of-themoment quality.


he drawings and paintings Amorsolo did when he returned from his trip to Spain are among his most virile. Tn this period, his drawings and paintings show a transformation of the quality of light into brighter colors, and the use of color for shadow areas. The 1920's were the high point in Amorsolo's artistic development. Through the thirties Amorsolo remained highly imaginative and active, periodically going outdoors painting and other subjects such

as scenes from Rizal's Noli Me Tangere (plal c 223). Stimulated by the nostalgia around him for the changing country life, he painted rural life as genre, rather than aspects of city life. Gradually Amorsolo reached a peak in his genre re pertoire and found less time to devote to new ideas and fresh viewpoints. Commissions for portraits fl ooded him , so that eighty per cent of his work was devoted to them. Foreigners who represented a large part of his clientele, would order genre pieces of similar subjects. There was great demand for copies of favorite works. So on Am orsolo compiled an album of ph o to graphs of his work for clients to look throu gh to choose th e Amorsolo scene they liked. Of co urse Amorsolo retained his original touch. He never really d uplicated a picture exactly , makin g min or changes, or else changing the size of th e ca nvas; but th e poi nt to be noted is that he had less tim e to th in k an d work out new pictorial co ncepts. The actual rur al life pattern itself changed. The cou ntryside changed. But Amorsolo painted his peasants as timeless figures clo thed in th e same manner, working at th eir same ch ores. Th e anecdotal paintings were the only occasio ns wh ere he could pour out his ideas and channel his developmen t. The J apanese occupa tio n provided a fr esh opportu nity for a different development. Amorsolo painted his pictures of th e war with no interest in pleasing his custo mers. He did many oils right on the spot as the emotion moved him . He must have reacted to the need to record th e chaos around him. This period chronologically represents a different devel o pm ent. The post-war years represented a peri od of constant painting, not the changing countryside and people , but the same subjects of his pea k genre years. Amorsolo became a prisoner of his success as buyers demanded his known past works of happy pastorals. He had become ty pe-cast ; working on portraits and genre pieces. His col or studies of nudes at this point represent th e escape from the tedium of painting countless nameless faces and endless echoes of his genre works. Th ere are also notable stylistic changes; a more overall finish and a blurring of details. There is softer grey in his later works, a mellowing of his backlighted and colorful sunlight-splashed pictures of the twenties. 147



nftOblllr' O bunO""g Iblg mo"o 1'11'1'1111

_no ull"ln8 .Inllllly , ,,1 ,1 0 In".lIw.

opposite right 168. Cover for Te /e mbong April 2, 1924 Courtes". of Ayala Museum


169. Various covers of Te lembang by Amorsolo doting from 1923 to 1924.

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opposite left 170. Comic strip attributed to Amorsolo which oppebred in Upong Kalobow . Amorsolo used the picaresque pen nome, H. Buto. Courtesy of Ayala Museum this pag e 171.-172. Illustration for the Ph ilippine Readen Right 2-3/ 8 x 3. Below 4-5/ 8 x 2-5/ 8 . pen and i nk 1932. Courtesy of Amorsolo Estate.



One of Amorsolo's favorite subjects was the female nude. During his brief period of intensive study in Spain he did mony drawi ngs and paintings of the nude. even, copying the cele brated "Mo jo Desnudo" of Francisco Goyo 01 the Prado Museum. In loter years Amorsolo continued to look to the female body and its infinite variety for inspiration. making creative notes with oil on canvas. In these drawings of the nude. there is always 0 gentleness in the posture. The quality of his lines exhude on element of grace so opt for the subject.

173. Vari ous pe nci l stud ies of the nud e. ( ourtesy of Amorso lo Estate, Mr. and M rs. A nton io Aranelo and Jo rg8 Vargo s Filip iniono Foundatio n.


174. Four pencil studies of rurcl scenes. Cou rtesy of Amorsolo Estate and Cristy Amorsolo



175. Rurol nolelo in pencil. Courtesy of Amorsolo Estate.


'wL r .


". opposite left

176. landscape

6路5/ 8

lC 9-3/ 8 . pencil on paper 1912. Courtesy of Cristy Amorsolo

177. Head study of Salud 5 lC 8/ 1/ 8 - charcoal on poper 1917. Courfesy of Cristy Amorsolo




178 Head study 5·1 4 I( 7·3 4 . penci l on paper 1931. Caur tes)I o f Amofsa lo Esta te




179. Young Girl with Hot 5 x 8 . crayon on paper Undated . Courtesy of Mrs. Fernando Amorsolo

181. Portrait 7 )( 10·1/2 . postel on paper 1920. Courtesy of Mrs. Fernando Amarsala

opposite right 180. Jesus Mo no r iz S·1/8 x 8·1/ 2 . charcoal on paper Undot ed. Co urtesy o f (ris ty Ama rsol o

182. Maiden on the Stream 12 )( 8·1/2 . oil on wood panel 19-43. Courtesy of Mr. luis Aronelo


abo ve

183. Boot 12·3 / 4 )( 16 • oil on canvos 19.46. Courtesy of Mr. Luis Aroneta

ISS. Mom imintokos; 13 ·3/ S )( 17·1/ 4 oil on ca nvas board 1952. Courtesy o f Jorge Vargas Filipin iana Founda tion

opposite below IS.4 . Marlcet Scene 30)( 21 ·1/ .4 . oil on canva s 19.43. Courtesy of Mr. Francisco Agu inoldo


186, Fruit of love 21 .1/ 4)( 29 . oil on canva s 19"3. Courtesy of Mrs. Fernando Amor solo


187. lo vonderos路 J965 2:7.112 )( 21.112 oil on c anvQ S 1965. Courtesy of Mr. An selmo Tr inid ad


above 188. Masukada 15路112 x 11 .112 . oil on plywood 1962. Courtesy of Mr. Anselmo Tr inid ad below 189. Church of Boguio 9路 11 -4 x 13 . oil on wood panel 1923. Courtosy of Mr. luis Araneta

190. Fish ing at Night 12路1/2 x 15路3/ 8 - oil on moson ite Undated. Cour tesy of Jorge Vorgas Filipini ono Foundotion

be/o ..... 191. Salam boo 14 )( 10-3/ 4 . oil on con\o'os 1938. Cou rtesy of Mr. Lu is Araneta

above 192. Seoted Woman 5 Jt 8 . pas lei on paper Undated. Courtesy of Cristy Amorsolo

ab ove righ, 193. Por trait of on Old M on 7 y 10 . con le crayo n on paper Unda ted. Cour lesy o f Mr s. Fernando Amorsola right 194. Nude Eating Undated 10路1/2 x 14 路3/4 . crayo n on paper Undated. Courtesy o f ( risty Amorsolo

( 168

1 /"

195. Le go'zp i 12·1/ 4" 15·112 . oil on plywood 1928. Courtesy of Oro. Paz Flores 196. 809 U;0 Scene 13·112 )C 8·112 · o il on wood 1953. Courtesy of Mrs. Imeldo Romualdez Marcos

197. Country Womon 9-1/ 8 x 12-3/ " watercolor Undated . Courtesy of Mr. and Mrs. Jesu s Pinedo , Jr. opposite right 198. Guillermo Tolentino 25 x 3"-oi l on convas 19 ..7. Courtesy of Mr. & Mrs. Guillermo Tolentino


preceding pages 172-173, 199. Ruins of Manila Cathedral J~ 00;.4 15-3/ 4)( 12·3 / 4 - oil o n masonite 1945, Cour tesy o f Jorge Vargas Fil ipiniano Foundation

100. rhe Offering (study) 13· 112 x 8·3/ 4 - oi l o n mosonite 1952 Co urtesy of Dr. Grego rio lim 201. Building of 'n'ramuros No da ta Courtesy of Ayala Mu seum 202. Woman in the Field No dolo Courtesy of Mr. En rique Zobel

this page: 203, Nude study 10 )( 14-112 - conte cra yo n on paper Undoted . Courles of Mrs. Fenondo Amorsolo opposite above 20 4. M arikina 9·11 4 )( 13 · oil on wood ponel 1925. Courtesy o f Mr. luis Araneto

opposite below 205. Town Fiesta 15-314 )( 12-1/ 4 - oi l on masonite 1947. Courtesy of Mr. Anselmo Trinidad

206. Home from the No data. From a mogozine reproduction.



he rise of what can be termed an unofficial Amorsolo School, and the subsequent clash with what became known as the "modern school" marked the fmal chapter of Amorsolo's art. When painter Victori Edades, upon his return from the United States gave a one-man show in 1928 at the Philippine Columbian, a public controversy erupted. It polarized the Amorsolo followers and rallied those around Edades who called themselves modernists. The conflict continued for two decades interrupted only temporarily by World War II but immediately resumed when Amorsolo held a one-man show in 1948. To resolve the conflict the newly formed Art Association of the Philippines divide its annual show into "conservative" and "modern" categories, reflecting the same split in temperament among the artists. The very choice of the "conservative" and "modern" labels was in effect instant psychological loss for the "conservative" in what was, to a considerable extent, a propaganda war for public support. The future had to belong to "modernists"; and the "conservative" label at a time when the nation was seeking new technology, new ideas, and new ways, was selfdefeating. In time the division within the Art Association led to an actual split, with a group identified with the conservatives led by Antonio Dumlao walking out in protest over the judges' decisions in the 1955 annual show. The conservative faction held an outdoor, sidewalk exhibit across the street in front of the AAP show. Seeking sympathy from t~e general public, and vindication through sales, they identified completely with the Mabini group - the artists who in postwar years had opened shops along Mabini Street and vicinity selling calendar and postcard type of art for the tourists and the less sophisticated public. This school has remained vigorous and subsequently an Academy of Filipino Artists was organized as a reaction to the dominance of the "modernists" in the AAP. The conservative faction regarded and proclaimed Amorsolo as their ideal, and th us identified Amorsolo with them. The modernists con208. Ang lovonde ro No doto. From the photo collection o f the ortist.

209. Ang Mom imi/i No data. From the photo coll ection of th e artist.

sidered Am orsolo from the very start the dominant painter whose style had become a school because of the countless followers and the public's co nditio ning to Amorsolo 's works. But in point of fact Amorsolo did not take sides. He was by nature a moderate. More pertinent, he did not believe in imposing his own style on others, not even on his own children who had taken art and apprenticed with him. His views on art stressed origi nality. Neither was he known to impose his ideas when he was director of the UP Art School. Amorsolo respected the work of one of his contemporaries, Juan Arellano, who had been exhibiting as an impressionist even before Edades had returned to() the Philippines. Arellano painted


along the post-impressionist ideas of Gauguin. Edades' own work was actually less technically and conceptually advanced compared to Arellano, being closer to the Ash-Can School of New York. Amorsolo inclined towards the school that refined impressionism towards a realism that reflected direct links with Velazquez, Manet, and Sorolla. An element of sentimentality was palpable in Amorsolo's paintings, the same element that turned sweet Michaelangelo 's influence on Raphael, and Zurbarran's work on Murillo. The reaction against the "Amorsolo school" was therefore not really a development of modernism in the same context as that in the West

210. Ang Mongingisdo No dote. From the ph oto collection of the erti$1.

where impressionism fought an unbending academy that would not even accept works for exhibit except in a salon de refuses. Modern art in the West was a movement that was carried by technical and philosophical theories on art - from the scientific concept of light and color, to rendering of form into cubes and fmally abstracts and non-objective paintings. The reaction in the Philippine setting was simply that - a reaction. In a recent conversation with Galo Ocampo who was one of the vocal exponents of "modernism" and the first to join Edades, he was asked the meaning of "modernism" at the time, and he informed this writer that "it was all very vague, Basta sawa na kami sa painting ria kagaya ng kay Amorsolo."

There are no recorded interviews or publications, where an artist belonging to the modern group has claimed any direct debt to the paintings of Edades. It is also pertinent to point out that after the open conflict Edades went to Paris and upon his return did not bring back any discernible influence of modern art of that period , not even of Cezanne who was supposed to have been the theorist championed by those in favor of Philippine modernism as against the realism of Amorso10. Instead Edades' later works showed influences of Gauguin, a post impressionist whose influence had already been introduced by Arellano 's painting and accepted with respect by Amorsolo and such critics of the time as Ignacio Manlapaz.


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211. Amorsolo's iIIustretion depicting his concept of the ideal Fili p,ino . beauty wh ich appeared in on article on June 29, 1930 of Tee che, s Ma gazin e.

THE CHAN GING FACE OF THE DALAGA Time and events changed the Filipino from th e early American period to the post-wer years, In the spa n of more then 70 yea rs, three gene ration s emerged; each tran sformed by a changing society. The gentle dalaga as pidured by Amorsolo in the twen ties and thirties, tak ing up where Fabian de 10 Rosa and Jorg e Pinedo hod left off, wen t to college, voted and ron for public office, fought in the second world war, and by th e late 60's marched in the streets in demonstrations. Bear ing the feature s of the Amarsolo dolaga, Gloria Diaz, Miss Universe of 1969. and curren tly a cinema star, typif ies the modern dalaga, self-assured and earthy as opposed to th e evasive, coy, on-a· pedestal, Amorsolo ideal. Dominador Suba's photograph of a Pompange do/ago, swathed in todoy's typical. sun-repellent work togs, also reveals the contrast to th e demure, country-cos tum e that Amonolo portrayed.



!lcete"" Fa ?lando Anlor,ol • h 0 1D i,.g tM IYI whle,. repr<sl!1Il. h


G loria Diaz, Miss Universe of 1969


the artist.

It seems apparent therefore that the reaction against Amorsolo was against his overpowering dominance in portraiture, landscape, genre, and an ecdotal works, as further manifested by mass media in reproductions on posters, magazines, calendars, and so on. Everywhere one looked there was Amorsolo, from the Ginebra San Miguel label on the popular gin bottle designed by him, to postage stamps and textbooks. Amorsolo's presence included being director of the UP art school. The artistic reaction was against Amorsolo's over powering sweetness and light. Edades introduced a distortion of figures with muddy colors of the ash-can school that was the anti-thesis of Amorsolo 's works. It was simply the right contradictory spirit at th at moment to throw at the public's face. It certainly served to shock the local art scene into realizing that there are, and should be, many other, varied approaches to art. But the iro ny is that while the " modernists" changed art a bit, the emph asis on graceful form, the sweetness an d decorative value of a painting, (an specially

215. Obj ects # 2 by Arturo lu z 18 x 2.44oil on can va s 1968. Courtesy of Mr. Antonio Qu intos


among the modernists of the 50's - the use of genre), have all been absorbed and assimilated as the main characteristics of Philippine modern art; and these are all the very Amorsolo elements the modernists claimed to have reacted against. The desire for powerful works, those expressing agony, suffering, despair, as in Edades' "The Builders" are not very visible in modern art today. Instead there is the emphasis on form and on noncommital works. The forms were distorted yes; but the carabaos, the candle vendors, the cumbancheros, are genre glorified in graceful forms by Manansala, Tabuena, Luz, and company. The colors of a Joya are pastoral. The triumph of the Philippine modernists, in today's light, seems to have ironically become the vindication of the Amorsolo aesthetic. Things may have gone full circle. With the controversy now past, Amorsolo has been conceded his place by the modernists. The modernists' reaction therefore meant that Amorsolo had carried realism to a point w~ere it could not be surpassed. New avenues had to be explored.

216, Sheaves by Anita Magsoysoy路Ho 16.1/2 )( 20 . oi l on canvas 1957, Courtesy of Ateneo Gallery


219. Traders No dolo Courtesy of Ayolo Corporation

221. Burning of the Idol 50.112 x 33路112 . oil on canvas Undated. Courtesy of Ayala Corporation






222. The Offering 19-1/4 x 13-oil on convos 1941. Courtesy of Mr. l.uis Aroneto 223. El ios ond Solome 19 x 12-5/ 8路o il on convos 1934. Courtesy of Mr. Benito legordo, Jr.

225. Nude with Drapery 10-112 x 13-3/ .... ail on canvas 1948. Courtesy of Mrs. Fernando Am orsola


226. Ready for Cockfight No dala . As reproduced in "Parad ise of the Pacific" December 113.4. Courtesy of the Amorsolo Estate

V. Epilogue

riticisms against Amorsolo are summed up by his vocal protagonist, Edades, who said: "The way I felt about his work 40 years ago, when I first arrived, remains the same. I saw some of his earlier works in the house of architect Juan Arellano, and I like them very much. Very beautiful. They were not commercialized. You could see the spirit of the artist - he was thinking for himself, he was not thinking of pleasing the tourists. His earlier works are more sincere. But towards the end of his career, he became famous for doing commercial work, calendars. Some tourists would ask him to paint what they called 'the gorgeous sunset in Manila', and he followed exactly what they asked him to do. Ther wanted some orange and some brilliant colors there, he put them there. It did not matter whether the colors clashed or became garish, and therefore ugly. To me, that is commercial art. " All right. Now another thing that I attacked was this : when Amorsolo sells one painting at a classroom in a school, then some other teachers see the painting, and they like it, and they ask Amorsolo to copy the painting. The same painting by the same artist multiplied ten tim es ! Now that is not a very good way of painting, this duplicating. "But the thing I really attacked was the academism of the Filipino painters under the influence of Amorsolo. I remember Salgado. He was under Amorsolo and he painted like Amorsolo. If you didn't see the signature and you saw the works of Salgado alongside Amorsolo's you woudn't know which was Amorsolo's. Now I attacked that because that is not creative work, that is just copying. There were many who copied the style of Amorsolo. And Amorsolo encouraged them. [ think he was flattered by it." (Homage to the Rebel, Philippines Free Press).



It is apparent from the statements that there is no adverse criticism of Amorsolo at his best. On this point even his most vocal critics are filled with admiration. There is no , faulting his craftsmanship, nor his vision, when he was in top form. The thrust of the criticism is directed at a concept of artistic integrity premised on an artist doing only what he sincerely feels he must do, never duplicating his own work, nor allowing others to do so. Throughout history, however, even the greatest artists have been guilty of potboilers. The practice of making copies of one's work was common. The question that comes to mind in reply to this frowning on copying one's own work is: is it the number of copies, or the quality of the copies that matters? To my knowledge Amorsolo never encouraged artists to copy his style, not even his own children who took up art. On the contrary, like a true craftsman with secret skills of his time, he did not welcome competition by imitators. Edades' criticism carries weigh t onlr when addressed towards Amorsolo's followers, with Amorsolo simply the idol to knock down. Or else the attacks have to be limited to Amorsolo's weakest points and poorest pieces "towards the end of his career." Here the Amorsolo weakness was noted even by early critics such as Manlapaz who pointed out in passing: "The feminine note, the sweetness oftentimes bordering on the sentimental, which spoils a good many of his canvases ... " It must be conceded that the excesses of Amorsolo were the sweetness of both his vision and his brush. He was, at his worst, a sentimentalist. The influence of patronage on his art is evident here. With Americans as the bulk of buyers, the type of painting demanded was of the genre type often looking like postcard pastorals; nonetheless, on successful occasions, they became sonnets to the Filipino peasant. Patronage throughout history has shaped much of art. While such a love-hate relationship is often destructive of creativity, patronage has also contributed to the development of talent. The best example would be the patronage of Pope Julius who also compelled Michaelangelo, literally at the end of a

229. Ang Sobungero No dolo. From the photo collection of the artist.

stick, to paint murals for the Sistine chapel ceiling despite protestations by Michaelangelo that painting was not his profession. The magnificent frescoes of the Sistine are testimony to the positive effects of patronage. On the other hand, the more usual result of patronage is the triumph of the patron's pedestrian fad of the moment. Some of Amorsolo's commissioned portraits were painted without any rapport with the sitter at all. With many, he worked from a photograph rather than the live sitter, some of the portraits being of persons deceased. It is probable that Amorsolo also relied on helpers for the unimportant and tedious touches such as transfering drawings on canvas, painting detailed designs on the clothes, and so on. One such helper was his friend Dominador Castaneda, a noted painter who had studied in Chicago, USA, and who later succeeded Amorsolo as director of the UP School of Fine Arts. Castaneda assisted in preliminary painting such as applying preliminary color grounds, serving as (what is termed by early Filipino painters) "manchador". But Amorsolo did all the final touches. Other helpers were his daughter by his second marriage, Sylvia, a gradu-

ate of Fine Arts of the UP who taught at the Philippine Women's University ; and his son from the first marriage, Adrian. To downgrade Amorsolo because of the in路 competence of his followers is unreasonable. Imitators merely demonstrated that with tourist-type patrons and inferior skill and vision, the final product is poor art, and not an Amorsolo. There is no record of Amorsolo ever encouraging followers. In fact, everyone is agreed that he never took sides. His imitators failed as painters. The name Salgado mentioned by Edades, for example, is a vanished name. Those who commercialized his style, in what has been called the "Mabini school," are the ones who face the charge hurled by Edades about integrity in terms of painting insincere sentiments to please, duplicating one's own work ad infinitum, and copying other people's styles. The "Amorsolo School " did not factually apply the Amorsolo method because they did not go out enough to the countryside to make their own observations and studies as Amorsolo did; instead they looked at Amorsolo paintings and reproductions of his work and painted from these. 191

230. Ang Mongingisdo N o doto. From the photo collection of the artist.


he ultimate weapons in any artistic conflict about painting are paintings. The mode rns gained recognition only when they began to produce exciting pain tings that communicated tQ a new generation. As Jose Lacaba (Homage to the Rebel) perceptively noted abo ut Edades : " . . . ironically, the effect of the battle was to turn the painter into a teacher and polemicist he did his most effective fighting with tongue and pen , not with brush . As director of the UST College of Fine Arts and Architecture, he could paint only once or twice a year." Polemics about painters are healthy mental exercises, but in the final analysis th e paintings are what it is all about. The artist speaks through his paintings. He is best judged on his paintings. The art of Amorsolo had weaknesses which, unfortunately, were the most conspicious and visible in reproductions (such as his anecdotal paintings reproduced as calendars) and crude copies by imitators. A choice selection however, puts the maestro in good light. Such a selection represents a vast body of works that can hold its own against


any other Filipino painter living or dead. His mastery of drawing, vibrant color sense, and sure craftsmanship cannot be faulted. In content, Amorsolo at the time sought to Hnd images exuding a national identity, but these ultimately became outdated romanticism. The nation itself today continues seeking identity in folk songs, folk dances, and folk themes. While his insights into Philippine life are blissfully escapist, they nevertheless were insights that struck a chord in the Filipino psyche . Amorsolo 's art was shaped by the times. He lived at a time when it was an overwhelming struggle to eke out a living as an artist. Some of his contemporaries as well as subsequent younger colleagues, were , and still are, victims of an age when the public was indifferent to artists; painters like Dominador Castaneda, Diosdado Lorenzo , Jorge Pineda, Juan Arellano, and even the much celebrated Fabian de la Rosa . There was barely any financial compensation for artists; many had to get by through teaching, which in turn sapped all their creative energies. Today there are dozens

231. Detail from the pointing "Winn o wing Rice" Courtesy of Mrs. Imelda Romuoldez Marcos.

of art galleries . Sales for one-man shows run up to the hundr eds of th ousands of pesos. One figur e drawing in cha rcoal done in Madrid (1919 ) by Amorsolo was selling in a recent exhibit (July 29 , 1974 Art An tiq ues Auction Center in Mabini, Manila ) for ?12,000. Most of his pencil studies commanded prices in th e vicinity of 1"'5,000. A small poster study fo r a carnival had a P25 ,000 price tag! A 1914 painting in an other gallery , figure study in oil, had an asking price of 'PI00,000! But in Amorsolo's tim e there was not a single art gallery. Exhi bits were rare. The art schools were anemic. Under Fernando Amorsolo's directorship there was not much excitement as he foc used art training towards the more urgent nee d of making a living on art through traditional co mpetence and the encourage ment of commercial art opportunities. But then, his protago nist , Vic torio Edades, who headed the UST Fine Arts De partment in 1935 can hardly claim the dynam ism that over-excited art critics like to attribute to th e " Father of modern art in the Philippines ." The ubiq uitous nature of Amorsolo paintings pervading in stamps, calendars, advertisements, a gin label, textbooks satiated aesthetic tastes. A parallel predicament may be seen with the fa mous sculptor Pierre Aguste Rodin, as noted by William Harlan Hale in "The World of Rodin": "Eventually Th e Kiss ... became so widely known as to be alm ost a stock image on th e jackets of romantic novels and books on sexology. Rodin's muscular , brooding Thinker, sculpted in 1880, was fated to gain even greater fame and to become almost a talisman - perhaps the most widely re produced sculpture of all time. There would be mass-produced "Thinker" book ends available at drugstore counters in metal or plastic ; "Thinker" lamp bases in brass; limestone "Thinker" replicas for the portals of circulating libraries an d college philosophy departments; prints of it in advertisements for physical culture, for self-improvement and even for an electrical appliance with a built-in 'brain '. Thus popular tastes "aught up with Rodin, while at the same


time the educated tastes he sought to impress began to bypass him. He became overaccepted, overexposed - ironically chiefly through a few figures that were hardly his best ... Serious viewers wearied of much of his art and many came to regard it as dated and banal, especially as the preferences of a new time moved into directions other than his." One complication that has further marred the Amorsolo name has been the rampant forgery of his works. The prominence of Amorsolo became some kind of challenge for frustrated and unscrupulous painters to demonstrate to their colleagues or their own selves that they too were capable of dashing off an "Amorsolo". The prices paid for an "Arriorsolo " was too tempting for artists who had manual skill but had no originality. Aside from inferior Amorsolo paintings and products by sincere imitators, therefore, an inventory of Amorsolo works would reveal a lot of forgeries, some highly skillful, some crude. A thorough scientific examination and careful study can probably reveal the genuine from the fake, particularly among the works after the 30's.


artist also expresses even more his inner self, and what one sees in Amorsolo's art is the Amorsolo soul. The placidity, even the "feminine sweetness," noted by critics is very much the personality of Amorsolo who throughout his life was a quiet, gracious, and generous gentleman. He exuded the courtly manners of the Hispanized Filipino whose ground rule was "delicadeza". Through the forty-year tempest in a teapot that made him the symbol of dispute between idolators and iconoclasts of art, he never uttered a word for or against anyone. With his students he was most polite, never touching their work, making notes on the side of the paper instead to correct an error with the softly spoken comment "Tila po ito ganyan" (It seems to me, Sir, that this is like that). 232. Tindero n9 Pruto s No do lo. From the, photo collection of the ortists.

233. Portra it of Amorsolo by Guillermo Tolen tino 12)( 12)( 9 - marble 1938. Courtesy of Mrs. Fernando Amor!olo

Times of course change, and with it a society in a generation. Amorsolo remained the quiet, modest, hard working person he was while almost two generations evolved an art public that was blunt, aggressive, impatient, and so full of answers. It could just as well be said, therefore, that Amorsolo's art was true for a people in a period of time. While manners and values changed, he remained constant to the gentle ways of the past period. In brief, it was not just his art that was too sweet and rosy for "modern" times, but the man himself. It was not dishonesty on his part to portray sweetness, it was consistent with his character. Like the delivery and stye of the balagtasan, the movements of the Carinosa, the melody of the Kundiman, and the delicate embroidery of the barong Tagalog, the art of Amorsolo is not strong, heady stuff, but pleasant nostalgia. Amorsolo is a confection not a molotov cocktail, a mano-po hand on the forehead not a raised clenched fist. n another level, as noted by many, it was Amorsolo who discovered the quality of Philippine sunlight. More accurately, it was the shadow areas he painted with a richness of colors that previous artists had simply obscured with dark scumble. The full burst of Philippine sunlight, which actually washes out color and produces a blinding glare, he added only as accents to bring out a nude's form, or highlight a dalaga's face, or to balance the composition with patches of light in the distance. The backlighted subject was Amorsolo's method of depicting Philippine light. The color-richness of his shadow areas are what exude the quality of Philippine light. It would be more accurate to state that Amorsolo discovered and depicted the true colors of Philippine shade.


23 4. Country Woman (study) 9 )( 11 路3/ " - pencil on po per Undated. Courtesy of th e Amorsolo Estate Following pages J98 路 199 235. Har vest Time No doto. From the ph o to collection of the orl ist.

Amorsolo was not just a "school " of art for a group of artists who follow ed in his wake, he was an institution to the general public wh o regarded him as the master painter of the Philippine scene. He gave the nation a sense of confidence in its culture, pride in its beauty , joy in its simple day-to-day living, and graciousness in th e face of reality. He lived through very trying times (from the last days of the Spanish Regim e, through the revolution and the early American era and then World War II) attuned to only one ideal: beauty. Amorsolo placed Philippine painting on a new level; a level that could only be superceded by the modernists following an international trend delayed by forty years. He expressed an epoch in Philippine history best, whereas writers were cut off by a change in language from Spanish to English. He lent glamour and legitimacy to the Filipino artist at a time when there was very little future or financial security in such a career. He made pain ting speak of the people and to the people, instead of merely to a social or intellectual elite. With him the painting profession gained national status. He alone successfully expressed the sentiments of a people during one major epoch.



nohl Numbers Indicate: Color Plat es.

1. Se r lra it

18 x 20 - o il o n c am'as 1942. Courtcsy of Mrs . Fernando Amorsolo 2. De tail show ing Am o r50 10 signature

3. Winnowi n g Rice 39 x 26·3/4 - o il o n canvas 1933. Co ur tesy of Mrs. Imdda Rom ua ld c:z Ma rcos

-t . Figu re stud y 9· 1/ 2 x 14. 1/2 - co nte o n pap er 1920. Courtesy of J o rge Vargas l- ili pi ni.m a Founda tio n 5. Landsc.lpc (untitled) 7.:1/4 x 4<S/4 - o il o n wood pand . 19 17. Co urtesy o f r..·lr. Lu is Ara nc: la

6. lI ead stu dy No ddtn. From the: ph o t o colleetio n a rtist.

7. S .. le o f Pan ay (or a Coldcn S.a.lak o l. 5 1. 1/2 x 3 4-3/4 _ oil o n C oJ O\' dS . Unda ted. Co u rtesy o f AyaJa Co rpo ra tio n 8. lllu5trolt io n fo r Ph ilippine R eaders 5h x 2 - pen & in k o n bris to l board 193 2. Cou r tcsy o f Am o rso lo Es lai c. 9. Illus t ration for PhilipPlIIe R eaders. 4 - 1/ 4 x 4- :i /4 _ pe n & in k

o n bristo l bOdrd. 1932 _Courte sy nf Am o rsolo fdmil y 10. CertifiC;dl c Co urt esy o f Am orso lo


Ferna ndo

I L Pil o tu o f f "b i,11l d e 1.1 Ros"

Co urtesy of A rno rso lo Ja ta te 12. l' hr)tO uf ' 1:.1 8 2." 13. C.u los I-ranc isco ~ I ur a l Co urte sy of Uul waga ng Ka lipun" n , Manilcl City lIa ll. 14. Illu st ratio n for P/ll /lppine R ead· ers. 4 . 1/4 x 7 - I>e n & ink o n hriuol bo ard . 1932. Courtcsy o f Amorsolo famil y 15. An Old P enin ~ ul 3 Man 13. 1/2 x 10-1/2 - o il o n c anvas 19 26. Co urtesy o f Mr. Lui s Arll' ne t •• 16. Cover for a to urist handbook No da ta. Courtesy o f Amo rso lo famil y 17. R e produ c ti o n of Am ono lo's mural "A ng A wit. .. Fr o m I.Iway way Magazine. Courte sy o f Am o rso lo fa mil y


18. Reproduc tion of Amorsolo's mural " ;I ng Say aw. .. Fro m Liway way Magazine. Cou rtesy of A morso lo family

36. The first graduates o f the U.P. School of Fine Arts April 2. 1914. Cour tesy of Amorsol o family

60. Nude on Crass 14.1/2 x 9·3/4 - watc=rcolor 1919. Courtesy of Jorge Vargas Filipiniana Foundation.

19. Cover o f Graphic Magazine showi ng an Amo rso lo work. Marc h 23 , 193 3, Courtesy of Amorso lo family

. 3 7. A painting by joaquin Sorolla.

6 1. Girl with Flower - From a magazine reproductio n

20. Cover of Philippme l!'du catioll Maga zine wit h an Amorsolo painting. june 1928. Courtesy o f Amorsolo family 2 1. Ad vertisement for !.he "MarQu ette" painted by Amorsolo wh ich appea red in Th e Sunday Tribull e Maga zine Cour tesy of Am o n o to family 22. Co\'er of The Sunday Tr ibune Maga:/II f! wi th an Amorso lo pa intin g. March 9. 19 30. Cour· tesy of Amo n o lo famil y 23. Cover of Sumpagi fa d epic ting an Amo rsolo Carni val poster. j an u. ar y 1934. Cou rtesy o f Amorso10 family 24 . Poster s tudy fo r th e h·lan il a Car· n h'a!. Fehru.lry 16 10 24 th. 1924 . Courtesy of Am o rsolo fa mil 25 . Pos ter sludy for the Manila Car· nival. F bru .try 15 to March 2 _ 193 0. ourtesy of Amorsolo fa mily 26. Figure stud y 39 x 23· 1/4 o il o n canv as 1914 . Co urt c= ~' of Mr. Francis· co j\ guinaldo 27 . Spa ni sh Woman 8· 112 x 12-3 /4 - c olored pc=nd is o n pdl)e r. 192 0. Cou rtesy of Mr. & 1I1rs. An to ni o Araneta 28. Flo res 5 x 8 - wa terco lor Unda ted. Co urt csy Amo rsoio



29. Pink Rose 5 x 8· 1/4 - wdlc rcolor 19 15. Courtesy o f Crist y Amor· solo 30. liang· li ang "nd Mo rning G lory

wa terco lor 5 x g. I /4 Unda ted. Courtes y o f Amo rsolo

38. San juan Landsca pe 7 x 4. 1/2 - charcoal o n paper Undated. Courtesy o f Cristy Amorso lo 39. Figure Study 14 x 8 - sa nguin & co nt e aayo n 1920. Courtesy of j o rge Vargas Filipiniana Found atio n 40. Ph o to o f Amorsolo " P.C.C. News. "



41. An advertisement for Iv ory soap by Amorsolo. 42. So me medals Amorsolo



43. Two med als wo n by Amorso to for entrie s in the Manila Carnival of 1922 and 1927.

32. Profi le of:s Spa nish Woman 10· 1/4 x 13· 1/8 - wa terco lo r 19 19, Courtesy of Mr. & Mrs. A nt o nio Aranct:1 33. S tud y of a Country LlIss 5· , /2 x 4- 1/4 - wo.llerco lo r Unda ted . Co urt esy of Amorsolo famil y 34. Por trai l of Woman with flowers 20 x 32 - oi l on canvas 191 5. Co urtesy of Mr. Antonio Na .tarcno 35. Classroo m of "o leo a l natu ral" in the U. I'. School of Fine Arts.

63. Laurha Ou ldoors o il o n canvas 1919. Courtesy of Mrs. Alfredo R. Ro ces 64 . Illustration for "MadaJing Araw" pen & ink. 65. Self Portrait 7 x 4- 1/2 - charcoal on paper Undated. Courtesy of Cri sty Amorsolo 66. 67. 68. Pen & ink illustra tion s from Madaling Araw

44. Rendezvous 8· 1/2 x 6· 1/8 - watercolor 191 2. Courtesy o f Mrs. Luis Arane ta

69. "E I Violinista" 20 x I 4 - o il on canvas 1919. Courtesy of Mr. Luis Araneta

4 5. " La Mu~rt e de Socrates" Reproduced in /::x('e/sior. Dec. 19 14. No data is known.

70. Woman with Hat 3- 1/ 2 x 5· 1/2 - watercolor Undated. Courtesy of Mrs. Fernando Amorsolo

46. Portrait of U.S. Pn: sidc nt Wil son se nt to the Pan ama Exposition. 47. " La Sicmbra" Cover o f R",nacimit!lIlo Filipin O. 48. Ill ustration AraUl. ..

fo r

" Mudaling

49. dUn Puente Rustico en Dagyo" Pen and ink co\'er illu stratio n for R enacimienfo Magazine 5 0. I'en a ~d ink illustration for " Paru sa ng Di yos." 5 1. " Igorrata de Denguet " Cover illu stratio n in pen and ink for Rc>na c:imienfO Filipino. 52. "Un Rin co n de I'asig" Cover illustra tio n in pen a nd ink for RCllal'imieulu Filipino. 53.

" My Wifc= . Salud." From photo co ll ection of the dr li 5l. 1920. Oil on canvas.


3 1. Flo res 6 x 9 - wal e rco lo r 19 11. Courtesy of Mr. & Mrs. Ant o nio Ar:mela

62. Laurita Grooming watercolor 1919. Courtesy of Mr. & Mrs. Ricardo Lopa

54. Po rtrai t of Don Enrique Zobel 2 1.3/8 x 29· 1/2 - oil o n canvas 1943. Courtesy o f A yala Corpo· ratio n

71. EI Maestro 10 x 3/8 x 14-1/2 - c harcoal o n paper. Undated. (probably 19 19) Courtesy of Mrs. Fcrn ando Amorsolo

72. 73. Two pen & ink sketches of Madrid stTeet sce nes. Courtesy of l\oJrs. Fernando Amorsolo 74. Head study of an o ld man 2 1.1 /4 x 9·3 /4 -conte crayon on paper. 1920. Courtesy of Mr. Lui s Araneta 75. St ill Life with I)aper Money. 11 . 1/2 x 8- 1/2 - oil o n wood panel" 944. With notation "un· der heavy bombing a t Grace I'ar k." Courtesy of Mr. Anselm o T rinidad . 76. Still life as reproduced in the August 1935 issue of Philippin e Teachers Digest. 77. Tendcra de Manga From the photo co ll ection of the artis t.

55. A ph o to of Amorsolo while in Madrid

78. Oa lagang Bultid From the Amorsolo photo col· lection

56. 57. Two oi l by Am orsolo done in Madrid as th ey appeared in a publica tion . No da ta exists on these works tod.IY .

79. San Juan Landscape 7 x 4-1/2 - charcoal on paper Undated. Co urtesy o f CrislY Amorsolo

58. Laurita Meditating

80. Man with Rooster. No data. Courtesy of Mr. Enri· que Zobel

14·3 /8 x 10-3/8 - c harcoal pencil o n pape r. Undated (probab. Iy 19 19) . Co urtesy of Mrs. Fernando Amorsolo 59. Laurita 7 x 10 - conte crayon o n paper 1919. Courtesy Mrs. Fernando Am orsolo

8 1. Oalagang Bultid No data. From the photo co ll ec· ti on of the artist 82. Meditation No data. From the photo colleC"tion of the artist

83. Old Woman No dat a. From the photo colleetion of the artisL 84. Teresa Landscape 13 x 16 - oil on wood pancl 1927. Courtesy of Mr. Luis Amneta 85. San Francisco del Mon te River 9.1/4 x 13 - oil on wood panel 1924. Courtesy of Mr. Luis Ara· neta 86. Woman with water jug Da ta unknown. From a magazine clipping. 87. Montalbiln Landscape 15/3/4 x 12·1/4 - oil on wood pa.nel. 1925. Courtesy of Mr. Se Mrs. Antonio Araneta 88. Riceficld 23 x 33 - oil on canvas 1971 . Courtesy of FGU 89. Sunday Morning.Going to Town 39· 1/8 x 27 - oil on canvas 1926. Courtesy of Mr. Anselmo Trinidad

10 1.


Dip 17· 1/2 x 23· 1/2 - oil on canvas 1961. Courtesy Courtesy of Mr. Alberto Carnio

102. Portrait of Mrs. Maria Amonolo 23. 1/2 x 29. 1/2 - pastel on paper 196 1. Courtesy of Mrs. Sylvia Lazo

103. An advertisement for MDrq uelle featuring Amorsolo. 104. Postage stamp Amonolo .


105. 106. Two columns in homage to Amorsolo. 107. Mealtime 8-- 1/4 x 10. 1/2 - oil on masonite 1942. Courtesy of Mr. Anselmo Trinidad l OS. The Builders. A painting by Vietori a Edades which caused a con troversy. 125. 1/2 x 47·3/4 - o il on wood 1928. Courtesy of Cu ltura l Cen· ter of the Phi Is. 109. " EI Ciego" No data. From the photo coUeetion of the artist.

90. San Francisco del Monte 9·1/4 x 13 - oil on wood panel 1926. Courtesy of Mr. Luu Anneta

111. Woman Gooking in the Kitchen 21· 1/2 x 15~ /2 - oil on canvas 1939. Courtesy of jorge Vargas Filipiniana Fo ndation

92. Lavandcru 8 x. 18· 1/2 - oil on masonite 1952. Courtesy of Dr. Gregorio Lim

112. Dalagang Bukid No data. Probably posed by a daughter. From the photo collection of the artist.

93. Winnowing Rice. 1948 27 · 1/2 x 21. 1/2 - oil on canvas 1948 . Courtesy of Filipinas Foundation. Donated by Mrs. paz Zamora.

11 3. Woma n with a Banga 12 x 1!)'5/8 - oil on wood 1922. Courtesy of Mr. & Mrs. An tonio Araneta

95. Seascape 12·5/8 x 9.1/4 -oil on masonite 1952. Courtesy of Dr. Gregorio Lim

96. Fishing Scene 57·1/2:1t 35· 1/4 - oil on plywood 1942. Courtesy of Jorge Vargas Filipiniana Foundation 97. Elias 14-1/2 x 9· 1/2 - oil on wood 1969. Courtesy of Mrs. Sylvia

Lno 98. Oawn in San J uan 9 x 10.3/4- oil on canvas board t 920. Co urtesy of Mr. Luis Ara· neta 99. Sugarcane Field, Nasugbo, Ba· tangas. 9·1/4x 13 -oil on wood panel. 1935. Courtesy of Mr. Luis Ataneta 100. Lavandera 29·3/4 x 23·3/4 - oil on canvas 1947. Courtesy of Mr. Philip Monumt.

123. Portrait Study No data. 1925. From the photo coll ec· tion of the artiSL


91. Nude with Pink Orapery 12 x 16 - oil on canvas board 1960. Courtesy of Mrs. Ime lda Romualdez Marcos

94. Rice Planting 10·3/4 x 2 1-1/2 -o il on canval 1943. Courtesy of Mr. J orge Vargas Filipiniana Foundation

122. Pearl Fisher - probably the: pa· nel representing Mindanao. one of three sen t to the Paris Exposition the other two depic ted Luzon and Visayas. From the photo coll e:ction of the artist.

11 0. A balagtasan.

124. Head study 5· 1/2 x 7.3/S - oil on wood 1929. Cour tesy of Mr. & Mrs. Antonio Araneta. 125. Sunse t in Cubao 9. 1/4 x 13 - oil on wood pane l 1922. Courtesy of Mr. Luis Ara· ne ta 126. Landscape 13 x 16 - oil on wood panel 1925. Cour tesy of Mr. Luis Au· neta 127. The artist with his son Delfi.n in his Azcarraga studio. 12S. Children of the Artist 3 1·3/4 x 24-3/4 - oil on canvas 1947. Courtesy of Mrs. Fernando Amorsol0 J 29. President

Quezon Oath of Office


141. Japanese Soldiers Pencil on paper 142. Civilians and J apanese Sentry Pencil on paper 143. Burning of Manila 4 1-3/8 x 3 1-1/4 - oil on canvas 1945. Courtesy of Mr. Antonio Delgado 144. Explosion Annotation: Manjla 5:20 p.m. Seple:mbc:r 2 1.1944 13 x 9.3/4 - oil on wood pane:l 1944. Courtesy of Mr. Luis Ara· neta 145. Bombing of Intendenc ia 25- 1/2 x 17·3/4 - oil on ca nvas 1942. Courtesy o f jorge Vargas Filipiniana Foundation 146. Sketches o f the Occupation Pe:ncil on paper. Courtesy o f th e Amorsolo Estate 147. Self·Por trait Annotation : Christma s 1944. 8·3 /4 x 10·3/4 - c harcoal on pape:r. 1944. Courtesy of Cristy Amorsolo 148. Untilled 17 ·3/4 x 9 ·3/4 - oi l on canvas Courtesy of Dr Sal vador de Leon


130. Amorsolo with his fellow profes· so~s at the University of the Philippine:s.

149. Portrait study of Chick Parsons 8·1/2 x 11 - pencil on cartolin a Courtesy of Amorsolo Estate 150. Grave Digger (soldier on tank) 15· 1/2x 10-3/4 - pencil on paper 1945. Courtesy of Amorsolo Es· tate

11 4. Detail from Woman with aBanga

131. Afte rnoon Meal o f the Rice Wor kers, a copy of the painting sent to the Ne:w York's World 's Fair or 1939 which won first prize in a popular vote. 15. 1/2 x 11· 1/2 - oil on wood j 948. Courtesy of Mr. Anselmo Trinidad

15 1. Rizal Avenue in Ruins (Corner of Azcarraga) 8·3/4 x 6 - pencil on paper 1945. Courtesy of Amorsolo Es· tate

115. A photograph taken by Amorso10 which is str ikingly similar to his own paintings.

132. Detail from Ang Mga Ulila No data. From the photo collec· tion of the artist.

152. Sto. Domingo Church 8· 1/2x 11 - pencil on paper 1945. Courtesy of Amorsolo Es-

1 t 6. Amorso lo among friends in one: of his regular sojourns to the countryside.

133. The Death of a Katipune:ro 37· 1/2x 27·3/8 - oil on canvas 1962 .. Courtesy of Mr. Anselmo Trinidad

117. The Philippines Free Press of March 3 1, 1928 features an art exhibit a t t he Marble Hall in Ayun tamiento where Amorso lo wor ks we:re included. 11 8. Sundown in Sanj uan River 9· 1/4 x 13 - oil on wood panel 1923. Courtesy of Mr. Luis Arane:ta 11 9. Lanrucape 12· 1/8 x 5·5/8 - oil on wood 1925. Courtesy of of Mr. and Mrs. Antonio Araneta 120. Stor m Clouds 9· 1/4 x 13 - oil on wood panel 192 1. Cour tesy of Mr . Luis Arane ta 12 1. Landscape: 9.1/4 x 13 - oil on wood pane l Cour telY of Mr. Luis Aranda

134. The Scavengers No ~ta. From the photo coHeetion of the art ist.


153. Ruins of San Franci sco Church 19 x 12·1/2 - oil on masonite 1948. Courtesy of Mr. Carlos Quirino 154. The citation for the Rizal ProPatria Award 10 Fernando AmOTSolo

135. Composition (a study) 10 x 14 - oil on canvas Undated. Courtesy of Mr . Lu is Araneta

155. Amorsolo receiving an honorary doctorate fTom the Far Easter University

136. Mother and Child (study) 8·1/4 x 10.3 /4 - pencil on paper 1944. Courtesy of Mr. Philip Monserrat

157. A model in Amorsolo's studio with painting in the: background showing the same pose.

137. j apane se Soldiers S. I /2 x 11 - pencil on paper 13S. Figure study 8· 1/2 x 11 - pencil on paper 139. Evacuees S~ x 5~ - penci l on paper 140. Evacuation 15 x 11 - penci l on paper

156. The Ar tist 's Studio

158. Sikatuna (a study) 15· 1/2 x 11-1/2 - oil on canvas board. 1962. Courtesy of Om . paz Flore:s. 159. Study on historica l work 12·5/8 x 9.5/S - oil on canvas Undated. Courtesy of Ora. paz Flores


160. The artist painting with a nude model 161. Binyag ng Panganay 33·3 /4 x 23. 1/2 - oil on canvas 1961. Courtesy of Mr. Alberto Cacnio 162. Portrait of a Datu No data. from the photo collec· tion of the artist. 163. Fishermen . No data. from the photo coll ec· tion o f the artist.

I SO. Jesus Monariz 5· 1/S x S. I /2 paper. Undated. Cristy Amonolo

charcoal on Courtesy of

18 1. Portrait 7 x 10-1 /2 - pastel on paper 1920. Cour tesy of Mrs. Fernan· do Amonolo IS2. Maiden on the Stream 12 x S- I/2 - oil on wood panel 1943. Courtesy of Mr. Luis Ara· net a

164. first Mass in the Philippines 5 1. 1/2x 34. 1/2 - oil on canvas Undated Courtesy o f Ayala Corporation

IS 3. Boat

165. nle ar tist in front of his mural "The Dance" at the Metropoli· tan Theate r. from the photo collection of the artist.

IS4. Markel Scene 30 x 2 1· 1/4 - oil on canvas 1943. Courtesy of Mr. Francisco Aguinaldo

166. Portrait of a Young Gir l 9· 1/2 x 13 - oil on wood panel 1923. Courtesy of Mr. Luis Ara· neta 167. Landscape by Fabian de la Rosa which even Amorsolo thought was one of his. 11 · 1/2 x 8.3/8 - o il on wood board. Cour tesy of Mr. Antonio Ba ntu g.

12. 3/4 x 16 - oil on canv as

1946. Cou rt esy of Mr. Luis Ara· neta

185. Mamimintakasi 13·3 /S x 17. 1/4 - oil on canvas b oard . 1952. Courtesy of J orge Vargas filipiniana Foundatio n IS6. Fruit o f Love 2 1. 1/4 x 29 - oil on canvas 1943. Courtesy of Mrs. Fern an· do Amorsolo.

168. Cover for Telembang April 2, 1924. Courtesy of Ayala Mu·

18 7. Lavanderas - 1965 27. 1/ x 21· 1/2- oil on canvas 1965. Courtesy or Mr. Anselmo Trinidad

169. Various covers of Telembang by Amonolo da ting from 1923 to 1924.

18S. Masukada 15- 1/2 x I I /2 - oi l on plywood 1962. Courles of Mr. Anselmo Trinidad

170. Comic strip anributed to Amor· solo which appeared in Lipang Kdlabaw - Amorso lo used the picares(IU e pen name, H. Buto. Courtesy o f Ayala Museum 17 1· 17 2. Illustrations fo r the Philippine Readers. 1932. Courtesy of Amonolo Estate

IS 9. Church o f Baguio 9-1/4" 13 - oi l on wood panel 1923. Courtesy of Mr. Lu is Ara· neta. 190. Fishing at Nigh t 12. 1/2 x 15·3/S - oil on canvas U nd a ted Courtesy of J orge Vargas Filipiniana Foundation

19 1. 173. Various pencil studies of the nude' Co urtesy o f Amo n olo Estatc, Mr. and Mrs. Anton io Arane ta ,md J orge Vargas Filipiniana 192. Fou ndati on.

174. Four pencil s tudies o f rural scenes. Courtesy of Am orsolo Eslate and Cristy Amonolo 175. Rural no tes in pen cil Co url esy o f Amonolo Estate. 176. Landscape ~ 5/ 8 x 9·3/8 - pencil on paper 19 12. Co urtesy of Cris ty Amor· so lo 177. l'lead Stud y of Sa lu d 5 x 8- 1/8 - charcoa l on paper 19 17. Cou rt esy of Cr isty AmoT'solo 178. Head study 5· 1/4 x 7.'3 /4 - penci l on paper 193 1. Cou rt esy of Amorso lo Es· tate 179. Young Girl with Hat 5 x 8 - crayo n on paper Unda ted. Courtesy of ferna ndo Amonolo



Sa lambao 14 x 103/4 - oil on canvas 1935. Court csy of Mr . Luis Arn· nela Seated Wo man 5 x8 - pastel on paper Undated. Courtesy of Amorsolo

Undated. Courtesy o f Mr. and Mrs. Jesus Pineda. Jr . 198. Guillermo To lentino 25 x 34 - oil on canval 1947. Courtesy of Mr. & Mrs. Guillermo Tolentino 199. Ruins of Manila Cathedral 15·3/4 x 12.3/4-oil on masonite 1945. Courtesy of Jorge Vargas Filipiniana Foundation 200. The Offering (study) 13· 1/2 x S·3/4 - oil on masonite 1952. Courtesy of Dr. Gregorio Lim 20t. Building of Intramuros No data Courtesy of Ayala Museum 202. Woman in the field No data Courtesy of Mr. Enrique Zobel 203. Nude study 10 x 14.1 /2 - conte crayon on paper. Undated. Cou rtesy o f Mrs. Fernando Amorsolo 204. Marikina 9. 1/4 x 13 - oil on wood panel 1925. Courtesy of Mr. Luis Anne ta 205. Town Fiesta 15·3/4 x 12· 1/4-oil on masonite 1947. Courtesy o f Mr. Ans~ lm o Trinidad 206. Home fr om the Markel No data. Form a magazine re· production 20 7. Ang Tindera ng Mangga No data. from the photo collection of the artist 20S.Ang Lavandera No data. From the photo coHection of the artist 209.Ang Mamimili No data. From the pho to collecti on of the artist. 2 10. Ang Mangingisda No data. From the photo collection o f the artist .

217. Jeepncys by Vicente Manansala '23 x 19·1/2 - oil on canvas 1951. Courtesy of Ateneo Art Gallery 218. Early Filipino State Wedding 5 1. 1/4 x 34-3 /4 - oil on canvas Undated. Courtesy of Ayala Corpora tion 219. Traders No data. Courtesy of Ayala Cor· poration 220. Early Gold Mining 23·3/S x 3 1.3 /S - oil on canvas Undated. Courtesy of Ayala Corporation 221. Burning of the Idol 50·1/2 x 33-1/2 - oil on canvas Undated. Courtesy of Ayala Corporation 222. The Offering 19.1/4 x 13 - oil on canvas 1941. Courtesy of Mr. Luis Araneta 223. Elias and Salome 19 x 12·5/S - oil on canvas 1934. Courtesy of Mr. Benito Legarda, Jr. 224. Twilight at the Luneta 9· 1/4 x 13 - oil on wood 1925. Courtesy of Mr. Luis Arn· neta 225. Nude with Drapery 10. 1/2 x 13·3/4 - oil on ca nvas 1948. Courtesy of Mrs. F ernan· do Amorsolo 226. Ready for Cockfight No data. Courtesy of the Amor· solo Estate 227. Texas 11 x S.1/2 - pencil on paper Und a ted . Courtesy of the Amonolo Estate 228. Sabongero No data. Courtesy of Mr. Enri· que Zobe l 229. Ang Sabungero No data. From the photo collec· tion of the artist

193. Po rtrait of an Old Man 7 x 10 - conic crayo n on paper Undated. Courtesy o f t-.h. Fer· nando Amonolo

211. Amorsolo 's illustration depicting his conce pt of the ideal Filipin a beauty which appeared in article o n June 29, 1930 of Teacher 's Magazine.

23 0. Ang Mangingisda No d ata. From the photo coll ec· ti on of the artist

212. Pampanga Peasant Color pho tograph by Dominador Suba

23 1. Detail from the painting " Win· nowing Rice". Courtesy of Mrs. Im elda Romualdez Marcos.

194. Nude Eating Unda ted 10. 1/2 x 14.3/4 - crayon on paper. Unda ted. Courtesy o f Crist y Amorsolo

213. Lavandera No dat a. From a reprodu ction in th e December I S, 1932 issue o f Graphic Magazine in th e art· ist's collec tion.


195. Legaspi 12. 1/4 x 15· 1/2 - oil on pl ywood 19 25. Courtesy of Ora. Paz Flo-

2 14. Young Filipina demonstrator in riot .


196. Bagu io Scene 13· 1/2 x 8· 1/2 - oil on wood 1953. Cour tesy o f Mrs. Imelda Romualdc z Marcos. 197. Countrywoman 9· I/S x 12·3/4 - watercolor

215. Objects # 2 by Arturo Luz IS x 24 oil on canvas 1965. Courlesy of Mr . Antonio Quintos 216. Sheaves b y Anita Magsaysay·Ho 16·1/ 2 x 20 - oi l on canvas 1957. Courtesy of Ateneo Art GaUery

Tindera ng Prutas No data. From th e photo collee· tion of the artists.

233. Portrait of Amorsolo by Guiller· mo Tolentino 12 x 12 x g . marble 1935. Courtesy of Mrs. Fernan· do Amonolo 234. Country Woman (study) 9 x 11·3/4 - pencil on paper Und a ted . Courtesy of the Amorsolo Estate 235. Harvest Time No data. From the photo collection of the artist.

Chronology Researcher : Carmencila Dalusong 1892 May 30 born in Paco Manila. In December moved to Daet Camarines Sur, and spent his boyhood there. 1903 Death of his father, Pedro Amorsolo. 1905 His family returned to Manila. Arnorsolo lived with his cousin Fabian de la Rosa in Dulungbayan and worked as apprentice. He also enrolled at the Licea de Manila. 1906-09 Recorded diplomas and medals awarded by Licea de Manila: Licea de Manila respectivo otorga este diploma a favor de Fernando Arnorsolo que, previa OposlclOn, ha obtenido eJ primer premia en la asignatura de Geografica - C. elem. Licea de Manila respectivo otorga este diploma a favor de Fernando Amorso10 que, previa oposicion, ha obtenido eJ tercer premia en la asignatura de aritmetica - C. elem. Licea de Manila respectivo otorga este diploma a favor de Fernando Amorso10 que, previa oposicion, ha obtenida el primer premia en la asignatura de trabajos manuales - C. elem. Licea de Manila respectivo otorga este diploma a favor de Fernando Amorso10 que, previa oposicion, ha obtenido el primer premia en la asignatura de dibujo de pintura. Licea de Manila respectivo otorga este diploma a favor de Fernando Arnorsolo que, previa oposicion, ha obtenido eI unico premia en la asignatura de dibujo de Iigura aI oleo. Primera exposicion de Bellas artes y Artes Industriales de Artistas en honor a la escuadra norteamericana, Manila 1908. EI jurado de premia concede aI Sr. Fernando Amorsolo medalla de plata par su cuadra aI oleo "Leyendo Periodico". Decimotercis Anniversario de la muerte de Rizal 30 de Deciembre, 1909.

Certamen Escolar - Diploma a honor de primera clase otorgado aI Sr. Fernando Arnorsolo en la asignatura dibujo de figura previa oposicion verilicado el dia 17 de Deciembre 1909. 1909 lune 18 enrolled at the U.P. School of Fine Arts in R. Hidalgo st. with Rafael Enriquez as director. Illustrated the first Tagalog novel of Don Severino Reyes, Parusa ng Diyos. Illustrated a boo k, Madaling Araw by Inigo Regalado. 1909 - 13 Recorded medals awarded by the U.P. School of Fine Arts. U.P. School of Fine Arts awarded a medal to Fernando Arnorsolo as a token of highest excellence in anatomy for the year 1909-1910. U.P. School of Fine Arts awarded a medal to Fernando Amorsolo as a to ken of highest excellence in drawing from life in oils for the year 1909-1910. U.P. School of Fine Arts awarded a medal to Fernando Arnorsolo as a token of highest excellence in advanced landscape for the year 1909-10. U.P. School of Fine Arts awarded a medal to Fernando Amorsolo as a token of highest excellence in drawing from life in charcoal for the year 1909-10. U.P. School of Fine Arts awarded a medal to Fernando Arnorsolo as a token of highest excellence in decorative painting for the year 1912-13. U.P. School of Fine Arts awarded a medal to Fernando Arnorsolo as a token of highest excellence in composition for the year 1912-13. 1913 August 1 won first prize for his poster design entitled "Demeter" sponsored hy the Philippine Exposicion. His prize was 'PI 00.00.

1914 Completed a Five-Year course in painting at the University of the Philippines. Won a competitive exam for instructor given by the U.P. School of Fine Arts and was promptly hired as instructor in Elementary drawing.

1916 His mother Bonifacia Cueto-Amorsolo died. Met and married Salu d large of Sta. Ana. 1917 December 14 His first child born Virginia Amc.:solo (now married to Eli Ballesteros). 1918 April 18 became instructor of painting in the U.P. School of Fine Arts. 1919 Left for abroad to study under the patronage of Enrique Zobel. He studied at the Escuela Superior de Pintura, Escultura y Grahado de San Fernando in Spain under the directorship of路 Carbonero and Planas. He copied paintings of Goya and Velazquez at the Prado Museum in Madrid. Later traveled to the United States. 1920 Fehruary 19 arrived in Manila on board the Suwa Maru. Painted his first masterpiece entitled "My Wife", a portrait of his ,vife Salud. 1922 Painted his first strious genre entitled "Rice Planting", 1925 Held a one-man exhibition at the Grand Central Art Galleries in New York. He exhibited 40 paintings. Started his series of historical p aintings e.g. UFirst Baptism."

August 18 won the Weekly Times Cover design. His prize was P50.00

1927 Manila Carnival conferred first prize upon Fernando Arnorsolo for landscape at the Manila Carnival Commercial 8< Industrial Fair of 1927.

November 3 Won first prize for his gold medal design entitled "October" sponsored by the Philippine Exposicion. His prize was P25.00.

Manila Carnival conferred first prize upon Fernando Amorsolo for general painting at the Manila Carnival Commercial 8< Industrial of 1927.


1928 He painted a series of covers depicting native girls for the Philippine Educa· tion Magazine. 1931 Exhlbited " The Conversion of the Filipinos" at the Paris Exposition. 1932 He made illustrations for the Philip. pine Reade rs by Camilo Osias and others. 1933·34 He painted the murals Metropolitan Theatre.



1935 May 11 Married his second wife Maria de l Carmen o f Marilao, Bulacan. May 23 appointed assistant professor (class c) of landscape and drawing from life. He started pain ting the portraits of the Ayala presidents. 1938 Appointed acting director su cceeding lis cousin Fabian de la Rosa in the U.P. School of Fine Arts with the rank of associate professor (class b) . 1939 Won first prize by popular vote in the New York World's Fair. His entry "Noonday Meal of the Rice Workers" won over entries from 79 countries. 1940 Won two gold medals and diplomas from the V.P. Alumni Association in recognition of his valuab le services to his cou ntry which are a credit to his alma mater and to his people and for distinguished achievements in the field of art. 1942 He pain ted a self·portrait entitled "Myself at 52". 1944 He started a series of paintings on Manila under siege. e.g. "B urning of Manila" "Rizal Avenue On Fire" "Bombing of Intendencia". etc.


1946 October 12 American Red Cross Roosevelt Club sponsored an exhibi· tion of paintings by Fernando Amor· solo. 1947 He painted a portrait of hls children entitled "My Children". 1948 November 6 held a one·man retrospec· tive exhlbition at the National Mu· seum in Herran sponsored by the Art Association of the Philippines. He exhibited 60 paintings. 1950 Exhibited at the Missionary Art exhibit in Rome. He exhlbited two of his hlstorical paintings entitled "Faith Among the Ruins" & "Baptism of Rajah Humabon". Became a member of t he Phi Kappa Phl fraternity U.P. chapter. 1952 He retired from directorshlp from the U.P. School of Fine Arts to devote all hls time to painting. 1954 January 2 Became a member, Program sub-committee in connection with the Inauguration and Induction into office o f President Ramon Magsaysay & Vice·President Carlos Garcia. 1955 September 14 Exhibited at the Fiesta Pavilion of the Manila Hotel sponsored by the Catholic Women's Club of Manila. 1956 July 3 Citation. Award of merit by the President of the Philippines upon the recommendation of the Civic Assem· bly of Women of the Philippines. 1958 Exhibited at the International Exposi· tion at the Civitas Dei Vatican Pavilion in Brussels, Belguim. 1959 Awarded a gold medal of recognition from the UNESCO National Commis· sian.

1960 July 31 Exhlbited Amorsolo collec· tions of the Insular Life, FGU Insurance Group at the Northern Motors Show Room in San Marcelino. Special Issue on Fernando Amorsolo was put up by the Insular Life, FGU Insurance Group. 1961 March 9 awarded a diploma of honor in the field of Philippine painting from the Philippine Federation of private Medical Practitioners, Inc. Citation to Fernando Amorsolo by the Rizal·Pro Patria Award. April 8 obtained his Doctor of Human· ities (Honoris Causa) from the Far Eastern University. 1962 November 21 awarded a diploma of merit from the University of the Phil· ippines. 1963 June 24 Araw Ng Maynila award for painting. Cultural Heritage award. Independence Day National Committee. 1969 Had his major eye operation by Dr. BatungbakaL May 8 appreciation plaque from the Philippine Band of Mercy. January 23 one-man exhlbition at the art center of the Manila Hilton. 1971 Had his ear o>,eration. 1972 January finished his last painting, a portrait of Colonel & Mrs. Ramos. April 27 proclaimed posthumously by his excenency Ferdinand E. Marcos as the rust Filipino National Artist of the Republic of the Philippines. May 30 Memorial exhibit of his works at the Gallery One Greenhills.

Bibl iography

Trinidad. "An Appreciation, " The Citizen, December 18,1919.

Researcher : Carmencila D a lusang

1920 The Varsity News. Returns from Extensive trip Abroad," February 17,1920.

1909 Regalado, Inigo . Madaling Araw. Manila; Limbayan at Aklatan ni J. Martinez, 1909.

Manila Nueva.. "Fernando Amorsolo," March 6, 1920.

1912 "His drawing. jTecherias" is ora cover. " EI Renacimiento Filipino, January 14, 1912.

_ _"Un Artista Filipino en Nueva York," La Revista del Mundo, January, 1920.

1913 Manila Times. "Amorsolo wins poster prize," August 1, 1913.

1924 La Vanguardi,,- "EI Colegio de Bellas Artes es Investigado," Agosto 28, 1924.

Manila Bulletin. " Amorsolo wins poster contest," August 1913.

1925 Philippine Herrud. "Fernando Amorsolo: A Study," June 14, 1925.

La Vanguardi,,- "EI Cartel anunciador

de la exposicion August 2, 1913



Manila Times. "Amorsolo wins 1'50 prize," August 18, 1913. Manila Times. "Colman wins prize, U October 29, 1913

1918 La Vanguardia. "Amorsolo triunfa en

la oposicion de bellas artes," Abril 18, 1918.

EI Mercosbil. "Cuadros de Amorsolo," Julio 25 , 1925.

_ _''The Critics Comer." Sunday Tribune, August 2, 1925. The Tribune. "Local Painter Attract Great Admiration by their display of colors," November 26 , 1925.

_ _" Fernando Arnorsolo's Paintings to be Exhibited in New York." Philippines Free Press, September 4, 1926. EI Debate. "En el Grand Central Art Galleries de New York, Amorsolo exhibira del primero aI catorce de Noviembre, trenta y dos sus cuadros," Septiembre 5, 1926. Philippine Repuhlic. " Arnorsolo 's Paintings Exhibited," November 1, 1926. Manila Times. " Amorsolo Exhibi t Staged in New York," November 28, 1926. Manila Times. "Paintings by Filipino have won high Praise," December 7, 1926. Manila Bulletin. "Paintings by Filipino have won high Praise," December 7, 1926. La Vanguardia. HMissionero de Arte," December 11 , 1926. Manila Bulletin. " Filipino Artists Pain tings are Popular with Yorkers ," December 31, 1926.

a Europa," Diciembre 14, 1918.

EI Debate. "EI Arte y las Artistas Filipino de Hoy," Noviembre 29,1925.

1927 Philippine Republic. " Arnorsolo Paintings win him Fame in America," August 15 , 1927.

_ _" Afamado Pintor a los 25 anos." Philippines Free Press, December 28 , 1918.

_ _"La Primera Exhibicion de Arte Filipino," Philippines Free Press, December 6, 1925.

1928 _ _ uManila Art Lover Gather Here." Philippine Free Press, March 31 ,

La Vanguardia. "Amorsolo se marcha

1919 Manila Nueva. "Un artista Filpino en Espana," Septiembre 29, 1919.

1928. Philippine Herald. "A New Study of Fernando Amorsolo," December 13, 1925 .

La Tribuna. "Un Gran Artista Filipi-

no," Octubre 4,1919. La Vanguardia. "Obras de Arnorsolo," Noviembre 26, 1919. EI Ciudadano. "Nuestros Artistas," Deciembre 18, 1919.

Philippine Herald. "A Criticism. by: Ignacio Manlapaz," December 30,1925. 1926 Philippine Herald. "Some New Pictures of Amorsolo," August 26, 1926.

The Tribune. " Art Institution in U.S. Purchases Arnorsolo Works," May 17, 1928 Taliba. "ltatanghal sa Amerika ang mga Dibuho ni Amorsolo," Mayo 17, 1928. La

Vanguardi,,- "Vida Mayo 21, 1928.



La Opinion. "Antonio Abad : Medal-

liones," Mayo 23 , 1928. Manlapaz, I. "Manila's New Art Gallery, " Philippine Education Magazine, June, 1928. Th e Tribune. " Art views Davis from America, Filipino Perspective," J uly 25, 19 28. La

1931 La Vanguardia. "EI Pintor Amorsolo llora la Perdida de suo ... " Abril 22,1931 EI Debate. "Failicia ayer en Manila la Sra. Salud Amorsolo, Esposa de Don Fernando," Abril 22,1931. La Opinion. "Dona Salud Jorge de

Amorsolo Filecio ayer en el Ospital," Abril 22, 1931.

Vanguardia. " Vida Manilena," Septiembre 18, 1928.

_ _ "Who's Who in the Philippines" Graphic, O ctober 20, 1928.

Manila Bulletin. "Mrs. Amorsolo, wife of Painter is Dead," April 22, 1931.

EI Debate. " Ha Fracasado la Exhibicion de Arte en el Salon de N ormal," Noviembre 17, 1928.

_ _ "Wife of Famous Filipino Painter Passes Away." Philippines Free Press, April 25, 1931.

EI Debate. "Fernando Amorsolo Matices del Dia," Deciembre 15, 1928.

Manila Bulletin. "Pro trait of General Paul Malone presented by McKinley Women's Club to Mrs. Malone last Night," May 22, 1931.

1929 Manila Bulletin. " Fleish acker buys Filipino Artwork for Private Gallery," February 19, 1929. La Opinion. " Un Cuadro de Amor-

solo," Febrero 23, 1929.

La Defensa. "Mrs. Stimso n se lIeva cuardros de Amorsolo," Febrero 23, 1929 . Manila Bulletin. " Mrs. Stimson buys Amorsolo works, " February 25, 1929. _ _ UFernando Amorsolo, foremost Impressionist Painter," Tribune Magazine, March 10, 1929.

The Tribune. "Food for Thought," March 15, 1929. 1930 ___ I'Some Successful Families." Graphic, December 30, 1930.


Dujua, F.E. "Cuando las Modelas, se Desnudan," Philippines Free Press, December 18,1937. 1938 Philippine Herald "Dr. Antonio Vasquez Gets Eduque Posts," June 8, 1938. Philippine Herald. "Quezon Gives AUC Portrait," November 30, 1938. 1939 Philippine Herald. "Amorsolo to Head School," May 26, 1939. Manila Bulletin. Regents Quiz President Gonzales about University Organization," May 27, 1939. ___ "Success of a Sentimentalist." Philippines Free Press, June 3, 1939.

1934 _ _ "He Fights for Art." Philippine Free Press, March 1934.

EI Dehate. "Cuardro de Arorosolo Acclamaqo en E.U.," July 29, 1939.

_ _ " Arte Y Las Artistas." La Illustracion Catolica," Octubre 18, 1934.

_ _ "Filipino Painting Prove Popular at both World's Fair in U.S." Philippines Free Press, September 2, 1939_

La Opinion. " Mrs. Stimson con buenos

Recuerdos," Febrero 23, 1929.

1937 Tutay, F. "Figures About Figure.. " Philippines Free Press, November 13, 1937.

_ _"The Finest of all Nativities." Philippines Free Press, December 8,1934. 1935 La Vanguardia. "Bueve Visita Una Exposicion Pictoria" Marzo 30, 1935.

Philippine Herald. "Amorsolo's canvas that won first prize in New York," October 31, 1939. _ _ "For Pan-Hellenic Art Gallery." Sunday Trihune, November 12, 1939.

_ _"Las Noches, en el Museo Nacional," Philippines Free Press, August 17, 1935.

1948 Arcellana, F. "One-Man Show_" This Week, November 14, 1948.

_ _"Manos con Alma." Philippines Free Press, November 19, 1935.

Alvero, A. Evening News. "Amorsolo's Paintings," November 20, 1948.

1936 "Magellan's Conversion to Christianity by the King of Sulu." Philippines Free Press, April 4, 1936.

1954 _ _"Reproduction of some of his Paintings." Sunday Times Maga路 zine. February 3, 1957.

1958 Quirino, jose. "Man with the Golden Brush." Philippines Free Press, july, 1958. _ _ "Planting Rice." Times Weekly. August, 1958. _ _ "His painting, 'Morning in the Barrio' is reproduced in color." Philippines Free Press, August SO, 1958.

Cruz, N. 'Sketches and the Man." The Insurance Line, 1960.

Demetillo, R. "Amorsolo's Art: A Contrary View." Century Magazine, March 8, 1969.

Mombay, A. "The Art of Fernando Amorsolo." The Insurance Line, 1960

_ _ leAn AmoTsolo Masterpiece." Weekly Nation, December 15, 1969.

Zobel, F. "Fernando Amorsolo, his contribution." The Insurance Line 1960.

1972 Sunday Express. "The Difficulty is in tracing Amorsolo's line of development," june 25, 1972.

Smith, Winfield Scott. The Art in the Philippines. Manila: Associated Publishers Incorporated, 1958.

1961 Roces, A. "The Gentle Life and Art of Fernando Amorsolo," Saturday Mirror Magazine, August 19, 1961. 1963 "While There Is Brilliance in the Landscape" Weekly Women's Magazine, April 5, 1963.

1959 __"Outstanding Filipino Painter." Times Weekly, February 8, 1959.

1964 Castaiieda, Dominador. Art in the Philippines. Quezon City; Office of Research Coordination, University of the Philippines, 1964.

Mombay: A. "Paintings and the Patrons." Weekly Women's Magazine, November 7, 1958.

_ _ "Studies by Fernando Amorsolo," Times Weekly February 8, 1959 __"His Paintings 'First Baptism' â&#x20AC;˘Spanish Galleon Traders'." Times Weekly, March 15, 1959. 1960 Cruz, Noel H. "A Portrait of Amorsolo." Times Weekly, july 24, 1960.

1969 joaquin, N. "Homage to the Maestro." Philippines Free Press, February 1,1969. Manalo, A. "A Dissent on Amorsolo." Century Magazine, February IS, 1969. Talag, M. "Amorsolo for Today." Graphic, February 12, 1969.

Marcos, I. "An Artist of Light." Pamana,july 1972.

Marcos, F. "Fernando Amorsolo : National Artist." Pamana, july, 1972.

Maya, I. "Fernando Amorsolo : First Filipino National Artist." Philippine Digest, july, 1972.

__ "He created a School of Painting." Philippine Digest, july, 1972.

_ _ "A Portfolio of Amorsolo Painting." Philippine Quarterly, july, 1972.

joya, j. "A School by Himself." Pamana, july, 1972.









19 M;




Acknowledgments Ma


193 Gra


Th is book would not be possible without the help of many; the Amorsolo family for one, particularly the artist's widow , Mrs. Maria Amorsolo and daughter Mrs. Sy lvia Amorsolo- Lazo ; the variou s collectors li sted in the catalogue for permi ss ion to photograph and reproduce the Amorsolo paintings in their collection ; Salvador P. Lopez, former President of the University of the Philippines for generously taking the time to go over the manuscript. to Mrs. Gilda CorderoFern ando for looking over the manu script and offering suggestions to improve it. Miss Carmencita Dalu song who did the research on the catalogue, chronology, and bibliogr ap hy. Mr. Ben La x ina for photography, Atty. Antonio Ouintos for legal help, M r. Louie O. Reyes and M r. Cayetano R. Corpuz of Vera-Reyes for tec hnica l help in the production and layout , Mr. Diosdado Flores for layout , Col. Antonio Henson of Filipina s Foundation for his generou s support. Mr. Ern ie Macatuno and Mr. AI Perez who also worked on the layout in the initial stage. and to Miss Remigia Trillana for typing and retyping the manuscript through many sta ges. To the many others too numerou s to mention who provided in sights into Amorsolo and the various period s he lived in, my thanks. ARR



ABOUT THE AUTHOR A noted painter and writer. Alfredo R. Roces grew up with Amorsolo paintings in his home. but he met Amorsolo personally only after graduation from college when he wrote a brief interview for a local magazine. As early as 1961 . Roces gained recognition for his research and writings on Philippine culture when he was chosen one of Ten Outstanding Young Men in the Philippines (TOYM) for contributions to Philippine culture. His first book. "The Story of the Philippines" was published in the USA by MacCormick Mathers Publishing Company Inc. as part of a series entitled Know Your World. edited by Kimball Wiles. He has written articles for Hemisphere. a magazine in Australia. Arts of Asia in Hongkong. the Asian Pacific Quarterly in Korea. La Revue Francais. as well as local publications. such as Philippine Studies. Philippines Quarterly Esso Silangan. Sunday Times Magazine. His essays on art have been anthologized in such books as Brown Heritage. edited by Antonio Manuud. and Philippine Modern Art and Its Critics by Alice M. Coseteng. Roces was a daily editorial columnist for The Manila Times for more than ten years. and he was cited as Journalist of the Year iA 1971 by the Citizens Council for Mass Media. and â&#x20AC;˘ received the Araw ng Pasay Heritage Award in Journalism in 1971 . A Bachelor of Fine Arts (major in painting) graduate from the University of Nortre Dame in Indiana. USA. Roces has six one-man shows behind him. has participated in &ountless group shows including those presented by the National Museum and the Cultural Center of the Philippines. He was Grand Prize awardee in the 25th Annual Show of the Art Association of the Philippines. and was chosen to represent the Philippines at the Paris Sud international art show in 1972. He is currently the editor-in-chief of a 1O-volume encyc.lopedic project on Philippine history and culture entitled " Filipino Heritage" to be published by Paul Hamlyn Group of Sydney . Australia. A monograph on his 20-year retrospective show of drawings at the Cultural Center ofthe Philippines was published recently .

Amorsolo, 1892-1972  
Amorsolo, 1892-1972