Fernando Amorsolo
Fernando Amorsolo.png
Born
Fernando Amorsolo y Cueto

(1892-05-30)30 May 1892
Died24 April 1972(1972-04-24) (aged 79)
Quezon City, Philippines
Resting placeLoyola Memorial Park,[1] Marikina, Philippines
EducationUniversity of the Philippines
Known forPainting
Spouse(s)
Salud Tolentino Jorge
(m. 1916; d. 1931)

Maria del Carmen (1935–?)
Awards
National Artist of the Philippines.svg
Order of National Artists of the Philippines

Fernando Cueto Amorsolo (born Fernando Amorsolo y Cueto; May 30, 1892 – April 24, 1972) was a portraitist and painter of rural Philippine landscapes.

Early life and education

Fernando Amorsolo was born on May 30, 1892, in Paco, Manila.[2][3] Don Fabián de la Rosa, his mother's cousin, was also a Filipino painter. At the age of 13, Amorsolo became an apprentice to De la Rosa, who would eventually become the advocate and guide to Amorsolo's painting career. During this time, Amorsolo's mother embroidered to earn money, while Amorsolo helped by selling water color postcards to a local bookstore for 10 centavos each. His brother, Pablo Amorsolo, was also a painter. Amorsolo's first success as a young painter came in 1908, when his painting Leyendo el periódico took second place at the Bazar Escolta, a contest organized by the Asociacion Internacional de Artistas. Between 1909 and 1914, he enrolled at the Art School of the Liceo de Manila.[citation needed]

After graduating from the Liceo, he entered the University of the Philippines' School of Fine Arts, where De la Rosa worked at the time. During college, Fernando Amorsolo's primary influences were the Spanish people court painter Diego Velázquez, John Singer Sargent, Anders Zorn, Claude Monet, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, but mostly his contemporary Spanish masters Joaquín Sorolla Bastida and Ignacio Zuloaga. Amorsolo's most notable work as a student at the Liceo was his painting of a young man and a young woman in a garden, which won him the first prize in the art school exhibition during his graduation year. To make money during school, Amorsolo joined competitions and did illustrations for various Philippine publications, including Severino Reyes’ first novel in Tagalog language, Parusa ng Diyos ("Punishment of God"), Iñigo Ed. Regalado's Madaling Araw ("Dawn"), as well as illustrations for editions of the Pasion. Amorsolo graduated with medals from the University of the Philippines in 1914.[citation needed]

Career

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Antipolo by Fernando Amorsolo, depicting Filipinos celebrating the annual pilgrimage to Antipolo, with the pre-War cathedral depicted in the background.
Antipolo by Fernando Amorsolo, depicting Filipinos celebrating the annual pilgrimage to Antipolo, with the pre-War cathedral depicted in the background.

After graduating from the University of the Philippines, Amorsolo worked as a draftsman for the Bureau of Public Works as a chief artist at the Pacific Commercial Company and as a part-time instructor at the University of the Philippines (where he would work for 38 years). After three years as an instructor and commercial artist, Amorsolo was given a grant to study at the Academia de San Fernando in Madrid, Spain by Filipino businessman Enrique Zóbel de Ayala. During his seven months in Spain, Amorsolo sketched at museums and along the streets of Madrid experimenting with the use of light and color. Through the Zóbel grant, Amorsolo was also able to move to New York City,[4] where he encountered postwar impressionism and cubism which would become major influences on his work.

Amorsolo set up his own studio upon his return to Manila and painted during the 1920s and the 1930s. His Rice Planting (1922), which appeared on posters and tourist brochures became one of the most popular images of the Commonwealth of the Philippines. Beginning in the 1930s, Amorsolo's work was exhibited widely in the Philippines and abroad.

Amorsolo was sought after by influential Filipinos including Luis Araneta, Antonio Araneta and Jorge B. Vargas. Due to his popularity, Amorsolo had to resort to photographing his works, pasteing and mounting them in an album allowing patrons to choose from this catalog of his work. Amorsolo did not create exact replicas of his trademark themes by recreating the paintings by varying some elements.

His works later appeared on the cover and pages of children textbooks, in novels, in commercial designs, in cartoons and illustrations for the Philippine publications such The Independent, Philippine Magazine, Telembang, El Renacimiento Filipino, and Excelsior. He was the director of the University of the Philippine's College of Fine Arts from 1938 to 1952.

During the 1950s until his death in 1972, Amorsolo averaged to finishing 10 paintings a month. However, during his later years, diabetes, cataracts, arthritis, headaches, dizziness and the death of two sons affected the execution of his works. Amorsolo underwent a cataract operation when he was 70 years old, a surgery that did not impede him from drawing and painting.

Amorsolo was a close friend of the Philippine sculptor Guillermo Tolentino, the creator of the Caloocan monument to the patriot Andrés Bonifacio.

Style and techniques

Sketch of a woman, whose unfinished style is representative of Amorsolo's sketching
Sketch of a woman, whose unfinished style is representative of Amorsolo's sketching

Women and landscapes

Amorsolo is best known for his illuminated landscapes,[5] which often portrayed traditional Filipino customs, culture, fiestas and occupations. His pastoral works presented "an imagined sense of nationhood in counterpoint to American colonial rule" and were important to the formation of Filipino national identity.[6] He was educated in the classical tradition and aimed "to achieve his Philippine version of the Greek ideal for the human form."[7] In his paintings of Filipina women, Amorsolo rejected Western ideals of beauty in favor of Filipino ideals[8] and was fond of basing the faces of his subjects on members of his family.[9]

"[The women I paint should have] a rounded face, not of the oval type often presented to us in newspapers and magazine illustrations. The eyes should be exceptionally lively, not the dreamy, sleepy type that characterizes the Mongolian. The nose should be of the blunt form but firm and strongly marked. ... So the ideal Filipina beauty should not necessarily be white complexioned, nor of the dark brown color of the typical Malayan, but of the clear skin or fresh colored type which we often witness when we met a blushing girl."

— Fernando Amorsolo[8]

Amorsolo used natural light in his paintings and developed the backlighting technique Chiaroscuro, which became his artistic trademark and his greatest contribution to Philippine painting.[10][2][11] In a typical Amorsolo painting, figures are outlined against a characteristic glow, and intense light on one part of the canvas highlights nearby details.[2] Philippine sunlight was a constant feature of Amorsolo's work; he is believed to have painted only one rainy-day scene.[2]

Sketches

Amorsolo was an incessant sketch artist,[8] often drawing sketches at his home, at Luneta Park, and in the countryside.[9] He drew the people he saw around him, from farmers to city-dwellers coping with the Japanese occupation.[8] Amorsolo's impressionistic tendencies, which may be seen in his paintings as well, were at their height in his sketches.[8] His figures were not completely finished but were mere "suggestions" of the image.[8]

Historical paintings and portraits

Amorsolo also painted a series of historical paintings on pre-Colonial and Spanish Colonization events. Amorsolo's Making of the Philippine Flag, in particular, was widely reproduced. His The First Baptism in the Philippines required numerous detailed sketches and colored studies of its elements. These diverse elements were meticulously and carefully set by the artist before being transferred to the final canvas. For his pre-colonial and 16th-century depiction of the Philippines, Amorsolo referred to the written accounts of Antonio Pigafetta, other available reading materials, and visual sources He consulted with the Philippine scholars of the time, H. Pardo de Tavera and Epifanio de los Santos.[12]

Amorsolo also painted oil portraits of Presidents like General Emilio Aguinaldo, and other prominent individuals such as Don Alfredo Jacób and Doña Pura Garchitorena Toral of Camarines Sur. He also painted the wedding picture of Don Mariano Garchitorena and Doña Caridad Pamintuan of Pampanga.

He also did a portrait of American Senator Warren Grant Magnuson (1905–1989), of the Democratic Party from Washington, whom the Warren G. Magnuson Health Sciences Building at the University of Washington, and the Warren G. Magnuson Clinical Center at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland are named after.

Detail from Fernando Amorsolo's 1945 Defence of a Filipina Woman's Honour, which is representative of Amorsolo's World War II-era paintings. Here, a Filipino man defends a woman, who is either his wife or daughter, from being raped by an unseen Japanese soldier. Note the Japanese military cap at the man's foot
Detail from Fernando Amorsolo's 1945 Defence of a Filipina Woman's Honour, which is representative of Amorsolo's World War II-era paintings. Here, a Filipino man defends a woman, who is either his wife or daughter, from being raped by an unseen Japanese soldier. Note the Japanese military cap at the man's foot

World War II-era works

After the onset of World War II, Amorsolo's typical pastoral scenes were replaced by the depictions of a war-torn nation. During the Japanese occupation of the Philippines during World War II, Amorsolo spent his days at his home near the Japanese garrison, where he sketched war scenes from the house's windows or rooftop.[9]

During the war, he documented the destruction of many landmarks in Manila and the pain, tragedy and death experienced by Filipino people, with his subjects including "women mourning their dead husbands, files of people with pushcarts and makeshift bags leaving a dark burning city tinged with red from fire and blood."[12] Amorsolo frequently portrayed the lives and suffering of Filipina women during World War II. Other World War II-era paintings by Amorsolo include a portrait in absentia of General Douglas MacArthur as well as self-portraits and paintings of Japanese occupation soldiers.[2] In 1948, Amorsolo's wartime paintings were exhibited at the Malacañang Presidential Palace.[2]

Critical evaluation

Amorsolo's supporters consider his portrayals of the countryside as "the true reflections of the Filipino Soul."[7]

Amorsolo has been accused, however, of succumbing to commercialism and merely producing souvenir paintings for American soldiers.[7] Critic Francisco Arcellana wrote in 1948 that Amorsolo's paintings "have nothing to say" and that they were not hard to understand because "there is nothing to understand."[7] Critics have criticized Amorsolo's portraits of Philippine Commonwealth personalities, his large, mid-career anecdotal works, and his large historical paintings.[7] Of the latter, critics have said that his "artistic temperament was simply not suited to generating the sense of dramatic tension necessary for such works."[7]

Another critic, however, while noting that most of Amorsolo's estimated ten thousand works were not worthy of his talent, argues that Amorsolo's oeuvre should nonetheless judged by his best works instead of his worst.[7] Amorsolo's small landscapes, especially those of his early career, have been judged as his best works, "hold[ing] well together plastic-ally."[7] Amorsolo may "be considered a master of the Philippine landscape as landscape, even outranking Luna and Hidalgo who also did some Philippine landscapes of the same measurements."[7]

Death

Amorsolo's grave in Loyola Memorial Park, Marikina
Amorsolo's grave in Loyola Memorial Park, Marikina

After being confined at the St. Luke's Hospital in Quezon City for two months, Amorsolo died of heart failure at the age of 79 on April 24, 1972.[citation needed]

Legacy

Four days after his death, Amorsolo was posthumously honored as the first National Artist of the Philippines at the Cultural Center of the Philippines.

The volume of paintings, sketches, and studies of Amorsolo is believed to have reached more than 10,000 pieces. Amorsolo was an important influence on contemporary Filipino art and artists, even beyond the so-called "Amorsolo school."[7] Amorsolo's influence can be seen in many landscape paintings by Filipino artists, including early landscape paintings by abstract painter Federico Aguilar Alcuaz.[7]

In 2003, Amorsolo's children founded the Fernando C. Amorsolo Art Foundation, which is dedicated to preserving Fernando Amorsolo's legacy, promoting his style and vision, and preserving a national heritage through the conservation and promotion of his works.[13]

Auction records

Since the 2000s, works by Amorsolo have achieved record prices at auction with the growth of the Philippine art market. On April 28, 2002, an early work from 1915 called Portrait of Fernanda de Jesus sold for a record price of PHP19.136 million (US$376,177) at a Christie's auction in Hong Kong.[14] This record on May 30, 2010, was later broken as a work from 1923 Lavanderas previously held by an American-based collector sold for PHP20.83 million (US$434,067) also at a Christie's auction in Hong Kong.[15]

By the 2010s, the prominence of local auction houses in the country has substantially increased the value of Amorsolo's works with the constant repatriation of Philippine art. On June 9, 2018, a 1931 work called the Mango Gatherers better known as the Conde de Peracamps Amorsolo as it was previously in the collection of Antonio Méilan Zóbel, the 4th Count of Peracamps, was sold at a Leon Gallery auction in Manila for a world record price of PHP46.720 million (US$883,883).[16][17]

In its wake, other works by Amorsolo have surpassed the PHP20 million mark including a 1946 genre work by Amorsolo titled Cooking under the Mango Tree previously in the collection of the Compañía General de Tabacos de Filipinas (Tabacalera) was sold at another Leon Gallery auction in Manila for a record PHP 23.360 million on 23 February 2019.[18][19] More recently, a 1949 genre work called Planting Rice reached PHP 30.368 million at a Salcedo Auctions sale on 13 March 2021, presently the world record price for a post-war work by the artist.[20][21]

Museums

The Jorge B. Vargas Museum and Filipiniana Research Center in Manila displays a major collection of Amorsolo's work.[22]

Major works

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Major works by Amorsolo include:[11]

Awards and achievements

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In 1972, Fernando Amorsolo became the first Filipino to be distinguished as the Philippine's National Artist in Painting. He was named as the "Grand Old Man of Philippine Art" during the inauguration of the Manila Hilton's art center, where his paintings were exhibited on January 23, 1969.

Major exhibitions

Outside the Philippines, his exhibitions were held in Belgium, at the Exposicion de Panama in 1914, at a one-man show at the Grand Central Art Galleries in New York City in 1925, and at the National Museum in Herran on November 6, 1948. During the 1931 Paris Exposition, Amorsolo exhibited one of his anecdotal paintings, The Conversion of the Filipinos. Amorsolo's entries at the Exposicion in Panama were a portrait of U.S. President Woodrow Wilson and the piece La Muerte de Socrates. At the 1948 National Museum in Herran, Amorsolo exhibition was sponsored by the Art Association of the Philippines. In 1950, Amorsolo exhibited two more historical paintings, Faith Among the Ruins and Baptism of Rajah Humabon at ssthe Missionary Art Exhibit in Rome. In 1979, Fernando Amorsolo's legacy as a painter was celebrated through an exhibition of his works at the Art Center of the Manila Hilton.[5] His art was also featured in a 2007 exhibition in Havana.[24]

Personal life

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During his lifetime, Amorsolo was married twice and had 13 children. In 1916, he married Salud Tolentino Jorge, with whom he had six children. Amorsolo's first wife died in 1931 leaving him with six children. He had six more children by a common-law wife, named Virginia Guevarra Santos. Amorsolo have three children with her namely Manuel (followed in his father's footstep, with a degree in Fine Arts from the University of the Philippines), Jorge and Norma when he met his second wife. Subsequently, Virginia found an engagement ring in one of Amorsolo's drawers; she knew about Maria, that prompted her to leave his house with her three children. In 1935, he married Maria del Carmen who gave him eight more children. Among her daughters are Sylvia Amorsolo-Lazo and Luz. But as Maria was giving birth with his children, Virginia had three more children with Amorsolo. His reputation was growing as fast as his brood and his work was more than enough to provide for his rather large family. Six of Amorsolo's children became artists themselves.

See also

References

  1. ^ "LOOK: Amorsolo statue, other landmarks at Loyola Memorial Park". The Philippine Star. 1 November 2018. Retrieved 8 April 2019.
  2. ^ a b c d e f Gale, Thomson (2005–2006). "Dernando Amorsolo". Encyclopedia of World Biography. Thomson Corporation. Retrieved 8 October 2016.
  3. ^ Wang, Nickie (13 September 2008). "Introducing Fernando Amorsolo to a new generation". Manila Standard Today. Retrieved 8 October 2016.
  4. ^ Frank Castle, Castle Fine Arts, expert appraiser on the Antiques Roadshow, PBS, 2005 [1]
  5. ^ a b "Fernando Amorsolo". Filipinos in History. Manila, Philippines: National Historical Institute. Available for download though nhi.gov.ph Archived 2007-09-27 at the Wayback Machine (requires registration).
  6. ^ Hallman, Tim (August 11, 2006). "Pioneers of Philippine Art: Luna, Amorsolo, Zóbel" (PDF). Asian Art Museum. Archived from the original (PDF) on February 20, 2012. Retrieved October 8, 2016.
  7. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Benesa, Leo. "An Amorsolo Festival" Archived 2007-09-28 at the Wayback Machine (originally from Philippine Sunday Express, November 16, 1975). What is Philippine about Philippine Art? and Other Essays, Manila: National Commission for Culture and the Arts, 2000, pp. 24-27.
  8. ^ a b c d e f Paras-Perez, Rodriguez (1992). Fernando C. Amorsolo: Drawings. Manila: Lopez Museum. OCLC 702602295.
  9. ^ a b c Amorsolo Lazo, Sylvia. "Remembering Papa" Archived 2007-07-02 at the Wayback Machine. Lopez Memorial Museum (2003). Retrieved June 30, 2007.
  10. ^ "Fernando C. Amorsolo". National Commission for Culture and the Arts. Archived from the original on March 15, 2008. Retrieved 8 October 2016.
  11. ^ a b c "Fernando C. Amorsolo (1892-1972)". GlobalPinoy.com. Archived from the original on 19 July 2010. Retrieved 30 June 2007.
  12. ^ a b Ocampo, Ambeth. "Amorsolo's Brush with History" Archived 2007-06-21 at the Wayback Machine. Lopez Memorial Museum (2003). Retrieved June 30, 2007.
  13. ^ "Fernando C. Amorsolo Art Foundation". FernandoAmorsolo.com. Retrieved July 2, 2007.
  14. ^ "FERNANDO CUETO AMORSOLO (The Philippines 1892-1972) - Portrait of Fernanda de Jesus". Christie's. Retrieved 24 November 2021.
  15. ^ "FERNANDO CUETO AMORSOLO (The Philippines 1892-1972) - Lavenderas". Christie's. Retrieved 24 November 2021.
  16. ^ "Fernando Amorsolo (1892-1972)- Mango Gatherers". Leon Gallery Fine Art and Antiques. Retrieved 24 November 2021.
  17. ^ Khaye Dave, Kimberly Kathreen (20 June 2018). "Amorsolo painting sells for P46.7 million at auction". ABS-CBN News. Retrieved 6 September 2016.
  18. ^ "Fernando Amorsolo (1892-1972) - Cooking Under the Mango Tree". Leon Gallery Fine Art and Antiques. Retrieved 24 November 2021.
  19. ^ "The Asian Cultural Council Auction 2019" (PDF). Leon Gallery Fine Art and Antiques. Retrieved 24 November 2021.
  20. ^ "Lot 39: FERNANDO AMORSOLO (1892 - 1972) - Planting Rice". Salcedo Auctions. Retrieved 24 November 2021.
  21. ^ Fernando Amorsolo on Instagram
  22. ^ Cruz, Jasmine (28 January 2015). "The Vargas Museum permanent collection: Amorsolos and more". BusinessWorld. Retrieved 6 September 2016.
  23. ^ Fernando Amorsolo Seven-Museum Exhibition. CRIBS Foundation, Inc. 2008. p. 25. ISBN 978-971-93896-4-4. Retrieved April 10, 2020.
  24. ^ "Havana Inaugurates Philippine Modern Exhibit." Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs, March 2, 2007. Retrieved August 1, 2007.