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Artistic paintings were introduced to Filipinos in the 16th century when the Spaniards arrived in the

Philippines. During this time, the Spaniards used paintings as visual aid for their religious propaganda to
spread Catholicism throughout the Philippines. These paintings, appearing mostly on church walls,
featured religious figures appearing in Catholic teachings. In short, due to the Spanish occupation of the
Philippines and the Church's supervision of Filipino art, the purpose of most paintings in the Philippines
from the 16th to the 19th century were to aid the Catholic Church.[1]

In the early 19th century, wealthier, educated Filipinos introduced more secular Filipino art, causing art
in the Philippines to deviate from religious motifs. The use of watercolour paintings increased and the
subject matter of paintings began to include landscapes, Filipino inhabitants, Philippine fashion, and
government officials. Portrait paintings featured the painters themselves, Filipino jewelry, and native
furniture. The subject of landscape paintings featured artists' names painted ornately as well as day-to-
day scenes of average Filipinos partaking in their daily tasks. These paintings were done on canvas,
wood, and a variety of metals.[1]

During World War II, some painters focused their artwork on the effects of war, including battle scenes,
destruction, and the suffering of the Filipino people.

The art of the Philippines refers to the works of art that have developed and accumulated in the
Philippines from the beginning of civilization in the country up to the present era. It reflects to its society
and non-Filipinos the wide range of cultural influences on the country's culture and how these
influences honed the country's arts. The art of the Philippines can refer to the visual arts, performing
arts, textile art traditions, literature, dance, pottery, and other art forms in the country.


When the Spaniards arrived in the Philippines in 1521, the colonizers used art as a tool to propagate the
Catholic faith through beautiful images. With communication as problem, the friars used images to
explain the concepts behind Catholicism, and to tell the stories of Christs life and passion. Images of the
Holy Family and the saints were introduced to the Filipino psyche through carved santos, the via crucis
(Stations of the Cross), engravings on estampas and estampitas, and through paintings on church walls.

Though the ethnic art forms such as pottery, weaving and metalwork were retained, the Spanish friars
and the Chinese, the colonys primary trading partner, were slowly introducing newer art forms. Icons
brought by the friars were used as models for sculpture. Filipino artisans were taught the Chinese
brushwork technique in painting. Engraving was also introduced.
The concept of patronage emerged. Artisans were commissioned and paid to carve, engrave, and paint.
They replaced the arts that were once done in a communal spirit and community setting for rituals. The
church, particularly the friars, became the new patron of the arts.

Since most art produced during the first two centuries of Spanish occupation were for the church, the
friars enforced strict supervision over their production. Until the 19th century, art was only for the
church and religious use.

Early in the 19th century, with the opening of the Suez canal in 1869 and the development of the
agricultural export economy, native indios acquired economic wealth and became what was to be called
the ilustrados,meaning enlightened and educated. These developments paved the way for Filipinos
ilustrados to send their children to universities in Europe. The rise of the ilustrado (Filipinos with
money and education) class was inevitable. The ilustrados became the new patron of the arts. These
events paved the way for the secularization of art in the 19th century.

A. Painting

The Spanish friars introduced Western painting in the Philippines to artisans who learned to copy on
two-dimensional form from the religious icons that the friars brought from Spain,. For the first centuries
of Spanish colonization, painting was limited to religious icons. Portraits of saints and of the Holy Family
became a familiar sight in churches. Other subject matters include the passion of Christ, the Via Crucis,
the crucifixion, portrayal of heaven, purgatory and hell.

Painters from the Visayas island of Bohol were noted for their skillful manipulation of the technique.
Their paintings of saints and religious scenes show figures in frontal and static positions. For the
Boholano painters, the more important persons would be depicted bigger than the rest of the figures.
Christ normally dwarfs the Roman soldiers in these paintings. Unfortunately, they did not sign their
names on their works and no record of their names exists.

In the church in Paete, Laguna are two works by Josef Luciano Dans (1805- ca. 1870), probably one of
the earliest recorded painters in Philippine art history. Langit, Lupa at Impierno ca. 1850 (Heaven, Earth
and Hell), a three-level painting which shows the Holy Trinity, Mary the Mother of Christ, saints, the
Seven Blessed Sacraments and a macabre depiction of Hell. The second painting is entitled Purgatorio
(Purgatory) which shows the eight forms of punishment the soul passes through for cleansing before
reaching Heaven.

During the early part of the Spanish occupation, painting was exclusively for the churches and for
religious purposes. Occasionally, it was also used for propaganda. Esteban Villanueva of Vigan, Ilocos Sur
depicted the Ilocos revolt against the basi monopoly in a 1821. The Spanish government commissioned
the work. The fourteen panels show the series of events that led to the crushing of the Ilocano basi
workers revolt by Spanish forces. It also showed the appearance of Halleys comet in the Philippines
during that time.

Tagalog painters Jose Loden, Tomas Nazario and Miguel de los Reyes, did the first still life paintings in
the country. They were commissioned in 1786 by a Spanish botanist to paint the flora and fauna found
in the country.

The earliest known historical paintings in the Philippines was a mural at the Palacio Real (Royal Palace) in
Intramuros entitled The Conquest of the Batanes done in 1783. Unfortunately, it was destroyed during
the 1863 earthquake.

Secular subject matter in painting only increased during the 19th century. With more tourists, ilustrados
and foreigners demanding souvenirs and decorations from the country, tipos del pais developed in
painting. These watercolor paintings show the different types of inhabitants in the Philippines in their
different native costumes that show their social status and occupation. It also became an album of
different native costumes. Damian Domingo y Gabor (ca. 1790-1832) was the most popular artist who
worked in this style.

In the early 19th century, the rise of the ilustrados saw a rise in the art of portraiture. The need to adorn
their newly constructed bahay-na-bato and the want to document their new found wealth and social
status, the ilustrados commissioned painters to make portraits of themselves. The works of painters like
Simon Flores,Antonio Malantic and Justiniano Ascunsion captured the intricately designed jewelry and
fashion accessories, the minuet details of the embroidered clothes, and ornately designed domestic
furniture of the patrons. The painstaking attention to minuet details characterized miniaturismo.
Governor General Narciso Claveria in 1849 issued a decree that all Philippine natives should assume
Spanish names. Letras Y Figuras, (letters and figures), a style developed by Jose Honorato Lozano,
combines both tipos del pais and genre paintings by forming the letters of the patrons name from
figures of people in local costumes doing everyday activities. It also utilized landscape scenes as

In 1821, Damian Domingo opened the first formal fine arts school in the country in his house, the
Academia de Dibujo. Perhaps realizing his importance to Philippine art history, Damian Domingo is
known for having made the first self-portrait in the country. In 1823, the Real Sociedad Economica
Filipina de Amigos del Pais (Royal Economic Society of the Friends of the Colony) opened their own art
school. In 1826, the society offered Domingo to be the professor in their school, in effect merging the
two art schools. In 1828, Domingo was promoted to school director. Domingo must have taught
miniaturismo to his students, but a publication by the academy entitled Elementos de Perspectiva
(Elements of Perspective) suggests that he must have also taught the classical ideals of the European
academies. Due to lack of funds and probably due to Domingos death in 1832, the school eventually
closed in1834.

In 1850, under the Junta de Commercio, a new art school, the Academia de Dibujo y Pintura, was
opened with 70 enrollees. Enrique Nieto y Zamora, a new employee at the Post Office and a graduate of
the Academia de San Fernando in Madrid, was appointed as acting director of the academy. Paintings by
Spanish master were brought in to serve as models for the students, propagating the European
academic style of painting using grand subject matter from classical Greek and Roman mythologies,
depicting historical scenes, and the use of chiaroscuro.

The academy was renamed Escuela de Dibujo, Pintura y Grabado in 1889. It was later incorporated with
theEscuela de Artes y Oficios in 1891. In 1893, the school of arts and trades was separated from the
academy. The academy was later elevated to the Escuela Superior de Pintura, Escultura y Grabado.

Other subject matter became increasingly popular such as genre, landscapes (paisajes), and bodegones
(still life) with artists like Simon Flores, Lorenzo Guerrero, Felix Martinez, Paz Paterno and her half
sisterAdelaida Paterno. Flores two extant works, Primeras Letras and Feeding the Chicken show the
close bond between mother and child.

The academic style was still favored by the church and government and was used for religious icons. The
miniaturist style, though, was favored by ilustrado patrons and continued to prosper.
Several Filipino painters had the chance to study and work abroad. Among them were Juan Novicio Luna
and Felix Resureccion Hidalgo who became the first international Filipino artists when they won the gold
and silver medals in the 1884 Madrid Exposition.

Lunas academic painting Spoliarium won gold medal. It showed the dead and dying Roman Gladiators
being dragged into the basement of the Coliseum. It is often interpreted as an allusion to Imperial
Spains oppression of the natives. Though winning the gold medal, Luna was not awarded the Medal of
Excellence, the top award for the competition, because he was a Filipino. The King of Spain, to assuage
Lunas feelings, commissioned him to paint The Battle at Lepanto. Hidalgo won the silver medal for
Virgenes christianas expuestas al populacho or Christian Virgins Exposed to the Public. The feat of Luna
and Hidalgo caught the attention of Dr. Jose Rizal, the Philippines National Hero, that in a gathering of
Filipinos in Madrid, he gave a speech praising Luna and Hidalgo for their mastery and nationalism

In the 1892, Columbus Quadricentennial Art Contest competition sponsored by La Illustracion Filipina, a
Filipino weekly publication, a 16-year-old girl named Carmen Zaragosa won first prize for her painting
Dos Intelligencias. In the 1895 Esposicion Regional de Filipinas in Manila, Zaragosa won a Cooper
medal for her painting. Fourteen other women artists participated. Five of them won Cooper medals
and four won honorable mentions.

B. Sculpture

Of all the new art forms introduced, the natives took to sculpture instantly. The carving of anito was
transformed into sculpture of the saints. These santos were used primarily for the church altars and
retablos. It also replaced the anitos in the altars of the natives homes.

Carvings for churches include altarpieces called retablos (usually with niches for the icons), the central
point of any Catholic church. The retablo houses the tabernacle and the image of the towns patron
saint. Usually referred to as a cabinet of saints, one would see a hierarchy of saints depending on their
importance to the townspeople. The patron saint would be in the middle; less important saints would be
in the periphery. The most elaborate retablos can be seen in the San Agustin Church in Intramuros.
Other parts of the church that may have carvings are church doors, pulpits, and carrozas (floats that
carry the saints for processions). The faade of churches may be carved from adobe, coral stone, and
volcanic rock, among others. It may have carved images of saints, floral decorations or leaf decors. In the
case of the Miag-ao Church in Iloilo, the faade is decorated with a carved image of St. Christopher
carrying the Christ Child on his shoulders under a coconut tree.

Relleves (carved images in relief) usually depict the Via Crucis. It may also show holy images in religious

The earliest known sculptor in the Philippines is the 17th century sacristan, sculptor and silversmith Juan
de los Santos (ca. 1590 ca. 1660) of San Pablo, Laguna. A few of his extant works may be found at the
San Agustin Convent museum.

Except for de los Santos, carvers were anonymous artisans before the 19th century. But in the mid-
19thcentury, with the rise of the ilustrados and the opening of the country to international trade, higher
artistic standards were demanded from the carvers/sculptors. A number of Filipinos found fame in
sculpture such asCrispulo Hocson, Romualdo de Jesus, Leoncio Asuncion and Isabelo Tampinco.

The second half of the 19th century, as travel in and around the country considerably improved, saw a
marked increase in the demand for non-religious souvenirs. Tipos del pais (human types of the country)
sculptures, showing ordinary people doing everyday activities and wearing their local costumes, became
the favorite. They also depicted the heads of the various ethnic groups.

The inclusion of sculpture in the Academia de Pintura, Escultura y Grabado de Manilas curriculum in
1879 formalized training in sculpture. Known sculptors during this time were Bonifacio Arevalo,
Graciano Nepomuceno, Marcelo Nepomuceno, and Anselmo Espiritu. Philippine National Hero Jose P.
Rizal was a sculptor. He took up woodcarving lessons from Romualdo de Jesus and Paete master carver
Jose Caancan.

Paete, a small woodcarving town in Laguna, Southern Luzon, produced the finest santo carvers during
this period. The most prominent name is Mariano Madrian who won a gold medal in the 1883
Amsterdam Exposition for his Mater Dolorosa (Sorrowful Mother).
In 1889, the first woman student, Pelagia Mendoza y Gotianquin, was accepted in the Academia de
Dibujo Y Pintura by then Director Lorenzo Rocha. In 1892, Pelagia Mendoza won in the 1892 Columbus
Quadricentennial Art Contest with a bust of Christopher Columbus.


Engraving was introduced in the 1590s by the Spanish colonizers. In 1593, the Dominicans published the
La Doctrina Christiana en la Lengua Espaola y Tagala (The Christian Doctrine in the Spanish and Tagalog
Language), first book printed in the country. On it was a woodcut engraving of St. Dominic by Juan de
Veyra, a Chinese convert.

The religious orders owned printing presses and printed mostly prayer books and estampas. The
estampas(prints of miraculous images) usually featured portraits of saints and religious scenes.
Estampas andestampitas (smaller version of estampas) were distributed during town fiestas to the

In the 18th century, copper etching became more popular. Filipino engravers like Francisco Suarez,
Nicolas de la Cruz Bagay, Laureano Atlas, and Felipe Sevilla were the first Filipino artists to sign their
works. And with words like Indios Tagalo or Indio Filipino, affixed their social status on their works.

Francisco Suarez (ca. 1690 ca. 1762) and Nicolas de la Cruz Bagay (1702 ca. 1765) collaborated to
depict landscapes, genre scenes and flora and fauna on the borders of maps commissioned by Fr.
Murillo Velarde in 1733. These were probably the first secular images done in the country. The two also
illustrated the pasyon written by Gaspar Aquino de Belen entitled Mahal na Passion ni Jesu Christong
Panginoon Natin Na Tola (The Holy Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ in Verse), possibly the first pasyon
written in the country.

Laureano Atlas made religious scenes and images. He did one of the earliest known portrait engraved on
copper, a portrait of Archbishop Juan Angel Rodriguez in 1743. Phelipe Sevilla depicted scenes from the
life of Christ.

Filipino engravers were the first to depict and reproduce brown madonnas. The Nuestra Senora de Guia
was made in 1711, the oldest Marian image. The natives worship this icon like an anito.
Copperplate engraving remained popular until the introduction of a new printing medium. Lithography
was introduced and this facilitated the printing of newspapers and periodicals in the country. It also
enabled the printing of the local edition of Fr. Manuel Blancos Flora de Filipinas in 1878.

One of the popular newspapers during the 19th century was La Illustracion Filipina published by Don
Jose Zaragosa. It had more than 100 issues from November 1891 to February 1895. It usually featured
lithograph prints of people, landscapes and genre scenes. Since most of the family members know how
to draw (including Carmen Zaragosa mentioned earlier), some of their works must have been published

amian Domingo is remembered as the first Filipino painter to specialize in secular (non-religious)
painting. He had a photographic memory, and is well known as the creator of miniature portraits of
Manila society figures.

According to his will of 1831, Damian B. Domingo was the son of Domingo Macario and Erminigildia
Gabriela. The fact that his parents names are those of Christian saints, instead of a Christian name with
a Spanish or Filipino surname suggests that they were Chinese immigrants who were converted to
Christianity, or perhaps the children of Chinese immigrants who could not claim an important Chinese
surname. Claims that Domingo had Spanish noble blood have been discounted over time.

Damian Domingo married a woman named Lucia Casas, who was a beauty from a wealty family. They
had 10 children, two of whom died in infancy. Two of his sons Severo and Jose also became

Domingo established his reputation as an artist by painting exquisitely lifelike miniatures on ivory. By
1821 he already had a large following that he had to open his house to his trainees. On 2 Dec 1823, the
Socieciad Economica de Amigos de Pais formalized his workshop into the Academia de Dibujo y Pintura.
His appointment as Professor was confirmed on 13 Jun, 1826. On 9 Apr 1829, he gave the first
examinations in that school. A remarkable aspect of the Academy was that it abolished racial
discrimination, giving Spaniards, Mestizos and Filipinos equal standing and privilege.

Sometime in the mid 1820s, Domingo must have met Rafael Daniel Baboom, a Catholic Indian merchant
from Madras, who traded in silk. Baboom engaged Damian to paint albums of costumes to depict the
fashions and occupations of the various citizens of the Philippines. Damian executed several of those
albums. Six of these are known. One was destroyed by fire during WWII, while the album at the
Newberry Library is the only one that Damian signed on all the constituting plates individually.

When painting miniatures Domingo used five Chinese sable brushes, some equipped with just one

Only four easel paintings are certainly by him: the Nuestra Senora del Rosario dando El Santisimo
Rosario al Santo Domingo 11 Santa Catalina, (Our Lady of the Rosary Giving the Most Holy Rosary to
Saint Dominic and Saint Catherine), ca 1815; La Sagrada Familia, (The Holy Family), ca 1830; La
Catedra de San Pedro, (The Seat of Saint Peter), ca 1825; and La Inmaculada Concepcion, (The
Immaculate Conception). The first three are in the possession of his descendants, the last is in the Xavier
University Folk life Museum and Archives. All these pieces are done in fine miniaturistic technique.

Damians self-portrait on ivory exists, his Sinitic origins evident in his eyes. He died in Manila at the age
of 40.

The picturesque mini-town of Paete by the shore of Laguna de Bay is famous for two things - its
inimitable sweet lanzones and its exquisite wood carvings. It is with justifiable pride that the Paeteos
are celebrating the 4th Centennial of the founding of their town which, according to historical records,
was founded by two famous Fransiscan missionaries, Fray Juan de Plasencia and Diego de Oropesa.

On the occasion of this happy festival, the people of Paete should be enlightened of the litle-known fact
that there was a great man, their own town-mate, one until now is "unhonored, unsung, and unwept" in
their town. He was Mariano Madrian, a woodcarver poor in material possessions, but iniquely rich in
God-given artistic talent. Historywise he was the greatest man ever produced by Paete because he was
the first and only Filipino to win the first prize (gold medal) at the Amsterdam Exposition of 1883. One of
the features of the International Exposition was the art competition (paint and sculpture) to which many
countries of the world sent their entries. The sculptural works, one of which was the image of Mater
Dolorosa (Sorrowing Mother) which Mariano Madrian carved exquisitely from native wood. Only this
sculptural masterpiece of Madrian, out of all Philippines entries, won a prize - gold medal at that.
Evidently, the board of judges in the international art competition was enchanted by the beauty and
artistry of Madrian's sculpted opus.
This was an amazing and unprecedented honor to Madrian, for he bested the sculptors from Spain,
France, Mexico and other foreign countries, who were trained in the prestigious art schools of the
world. By winning first prize in Amsterdam Exposition (art competition), he gained international
recognition as an sculptor for himself and reflected glory to the Philippines (his native country) and to
Paete (his natal town).

When King Alfonso XII (1875-1885) learned from his advisers that an indio from the Philippines romped
away with the first prize in the international art competition at the Amsterdam Exposition of 1883, he
was delighted and immediately ordered the preparation of a diploma of honor inscribed in gold
letterings, including Madrian's name. He sent it to the Spanish Governor-General for transmittal to
Mariano Madrian in Paete.

Strangely, this great Filipino sculptor has been forgotten and unhonored in the Philippines and also in his
town. Present-day town folks in Paete nay dimly remember his name, but the vast majority of them do
not know that once upon a time Mariano Madrian, whom they may remember as Tandang Ano,
brought glory to the Philippines and to Paete, in particular. No monument has been erected so far in his
honor, and until today no street in his native town has been named after him - and yet there are streets
in his own town which may have been named after persons of dubious distinction, persons undeserving
of even a whispering footnote in history books.

For so many, many years, Madrian who has long gone to the other world, remains a forgotten hero of
his town, a victim of man's ingratitude. It is high time, especially now when his town-mates are
celebrating the 4th Centennial Anniversary ot the town, to accord him due reward and recognition
which he fully deserves.

If the people of the neighboring town of Pakil have in recent years erected a life-size monument to their
great town-mate, Marcelo Adonay, famous Filipino organist and music composer, as an expression of
their gratitude, why cannot the people of Paete do the same thing with regards to their greatest
kababayan, Mariano Madrian, the first internationally known Filipino sculptor and the only Paeteo,
for whom history's bell rings a lasting salute.

History-wise, it may be said that Paete is famous for three things --- its inimitable sweet lanzones, its
exquisite woodcarvings, and its Mariano Madrian.
Hark to what the eminent Argentine historian. Dr. Enrique de Gandia, says: "El pueblo que no honra sus
grandes hombres nunca sera grande."

Juan Novicio Luna (October 23, 1857 December 7, 1899) was a Filipino painter, sculptor and a political
activist of the Philippine Revolution during the late 19th century. He became one of the first recognized
Philippine artists.

His winning the gold medal in the 1884 Madrid Exposition of Fine Arts, along with the silver win of fellow
Filipino painter Flix Resurreccin Hidalgo, prompted a celebration which was a major highlight in the
memoirs of members of the Propaganda Movement, with the fellow Ilustrados toasting to the two
painters' good health and to the brotherhood between Spain and the Philippines.

Regarded for work done in the manner of the Spanish, Italian and French academies of his time, Luna
painted literary and historical scenes, some with an underscore of political commentary. His allegorical
works were inspired with classical balance, and often showed figures in theatrical poses.

Spoliarium is a Latin word referring to the basement of the Roman Colosseum where the fallen and
dying gladiators are dumped and devoid of their worldly possessions. At the center of Luna's painting
are fallen gladiators being dragged by Roman soldiers.

Fernando Zbel de Ayala y Montojo de Torrntegui (August 27, 1924 June 2, 1984), also known as
Fernando M. Zbel, was a Spanish Filipino painter, businessman, art collector and museum founder.

Contents [hide]

1 Early life

2 Boston-style works

3 Early Work in Manila and the Influence of Rothko

4 Saetas and Serie Negra series

5 Later life and death

6 External links

7 References

Early life[edit]
Zbel was born in Ermita, Manila in the Philippines to Enrique Zbel de Ayala (18771943) and Fermina
Montojo y Torrontegui and was a member of the prominent Zbel de Ayala family. He was a brother of
Jacobo Zbel (father of Enrique J. Zbel), Alfonso (father of Jaime Zbel de Ayala) and Mercedes Zbel
McMicking, all children of his father from his first wife, Consuelo Rxas de Ayala (who died in September
25, 1907 at the age of 30). He was a nephew and namesake of Fernando Antonio Zbel de Ayala, the
eldest brother of his father.

His father was a patron of Fernando Amorsolo. In gratitude, Amorsolo would teach the young Fernando
on the rudiments of art.

Zbel took up medical studies at the University of Santo Tomas in Manila. In 1942, he had spinal
deficiency that forced him to become bedridden that year. To pass the time, he took up sketching. He
studied at the University of Santo Tomas and then left for Harvard University in 1946 to take up degrees
in history and literature. He graduated in three years and wrote a thesis on the Federico Garca Lorca
play The Love of Don Perlimpln and Belisa in the Garden.