The Controversial Paintings of Amorsolo and Luna

I had a rewarding day last week when I accompanied my daughter during her educational trip. Every year, schools here in the Philippines organize educational trips for their students. One of the sites we visited was the GSIS Museum of Art in Pasay City, Philippines. There were several exhibits displayed in the museum and the exhibits that attracted me among others were the paintings of Fernando Amorsolo and Juan Luna. It was the first time that I saw these authentic works of art of these painters. As I look closely to each painting, it was indeed a masterpiece.

Fernando Cueto Amorsolo is a Filipino painter and known as “The Painter of Philippine Sunlight” because his works capture the brilliance of the Philippine sun. Amorsolo paints from within the Filipino values, character and soul. He draws his inspiration from the life of ordinary people portraying their industry, integrity and resilience. 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. He painted a series of historical paintings on pre-colonial and Spanish colonization periods. His typical pastoral scenes were replaced during World War II, Japanese Occupation of the Philippines. This time he presented destruction, pain, tragedy, death and sufferings experienced by the Filipino people on his paintings. Fernando Amorsolo was born on May 30, 1892 in Manila when the Philippines was still under Spanish sovereignty. He died on April 26, 1972 at the age of 79.

His Styles and Techniques

Amorsolo is an incessant sketch artist.The artistic trademark of Amorsolo and his greatest contribution to Philippine painting is the backlighting technique. In a typical Amorsolo painting, figures are outlined against a characteristic glow, and intense light on one part of the canvas highlights nearby details.


His Legacy...

The volume of paintings, sketches and studies of Amorsolo is believed to have reached more 10,000 pieces. He was an important influence on contemporary Filipino art and artists. His art speaks well of the different events in the Philippine history as presented in his major works like, Sunset: The Return of the Fisherman (1939), the Afternoon Meal of the Workers (1939), Assassination of Gov. Bustamante , Bataan (Historical place), The Bombing of Intendencia (1942), The Building of Intramuros, Burning of the Idol, The Burning of Manila (1949), El Ciego (The Blind Man) (1928), The Conversion of the Filipinos ( 1931), Corner of Hell, Dalagang Bukid (1936), Defense of a Filipina Woman’s Honor (1945), The Destruction of Manila by the savage Japanese, Early Filipino State Wedding, Early Sulu Wedding, The Explosion (1944), The First Baptism in the Philippines, The First Mass in the Philippines, Maiden in a Stream (1921), The Making of Philippine Flag, The Mestiza (1943), My Wife Salud (1920), One Casualty, Our Lady of Light (1950), Planting Rice(1946), Princess Urduja, The Rape of Manila (1942), Rice Planting (1922), Sale of Panay, Sikatuna, Sunday Morning Going to Town (1958), Traders, and the El Violinista (The Violinist).

Furthermore, three of Amorsolo paintings are, at this present day, displayed at Vatican City, Rome. One at the headquarter of the Vatican radio and the other two at the Propaganda Fide. Propaganda Fide is a congregation involved in missionary works and related missionary initiatives. Having the Amorsolo painting at the Propaganda Fide highlights the special missionary contributions of the Philippine Church in spreading the faith to other nations. He may not be as famous as Michael Angelo, Rafael, Caravaggio and Fra Angelico but this should be another source of honor and pride for Filipinos.

Fernando Amorsolo y Cueto (1892-1972) Gallery

Click thumbnail to view full-size
A Basket of Mangoes. 1949. Oil on canvas. 20 x 16 (frame 24 x 20).Amorsolo was famous for his portraits of beautiful Filipina girls.Prinsesa UrdujaEl Ciego (The Blind Man). 1929. Oil on panel. 30x 24 (frame 38 1/4 x 31 3/4)This work has a unique provenance, as it was commissioned by a naval intelligence officer who helped in the liberation of Manila during World War II. The work is extremely imSunset: Return of the Fishermen. 1939. Oil on canvas. 18 x 26 (frame 22 1/8 x 26 1/8)Sunset: Return of the Fishermen was done in 1939, at the height of Amorsolos career. The scene is Manila Bay, famous for its beautiful sunsets. Mount Samat on BataanWoman with carrying a child Girl holding a coconut fruitPlanting RiceHarvesting rice
A Basket of Mangoes. 1949. Oil on canvas. 20 x 16 (frame 24 x 20).Amorsolo was famous for his portraits of beautiful Filipina girls.
A Basket of Mangoes. 1949. Oil on canvas. 20 x 16 (frame 24 x 20).Amorsolo was famous for his portraits of beautiful Filipina girls.
Prinsesa Urduja
Prinsesa Urduja
El Ciego (The Blind Man). 1929. Oil on panel. 30x 24 (frame 38 1/4 x 31 3/4)This work has a unique provenance, as it was commissioned by a naval intelligence officer who helped in the liberation of Manila during World War II. The work is extremely im
El Ciego (The Blind Man). 1929. Oil on panel. 30x 24 (frame 38 1/4 x 31 3/4)This work has a unique provenance, as it was commissioned by a naval intelligence officer who helped in the liberation of Manila during World War II. The work is extremely im
Sunset: Return of the Fishermen. 1939. Oil on canvas. 18 x 26 (frame 22 1/8 x 26 1/8)Sunset: Return of the Fishermen was done in 1939, at the height of Amorsolos career. The scene is Manila Bay, famous for its beautiful sunsets. Mount Samat on Bataan
Sunset: Return of the Fishermen. 1939. Oil on canvas. 18 x 26 (frame 22 1/8 x 26 1/8)Sunset: Return of the Fishermen was done in 1939, at the height of Amorsolos career. The scene is Manila Bay, famous for its beautiful sunsets. Mount Samat on Bataan
Woman with carrying a child
Woman with carrying a child
Girl holding a coconut fruit
Girl holding a coconut fruit
Planting Rice
Planting Rice
Harvesting rice
Harvesting rice

Juan Luna Y Novicio is another Filipino painter. A political activist of the Philippine revolution during the late 19th century. He is the first recognized Filipino artist during 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.Luna is great artist during his time. He was the first recipient of three gold medals awarded in exhibition in 1884 in Madrid. In 1887 he went back to Spain and won again in the Exposition.

Juan Luna came from a rich family. He was one of those rich boys like Jose Rizal (Philippine National Hero) who had the financial capability to  take formal or higher education in other countries. He could have contributed more in the Philippine art history but unfortunately he died at a young age of 38. He was born in 1861 and died of heart attack in 1899. In 1925, Juan Luna was reinstated as a world renowned artist and Peuple et Rois.His last major work, was acclaimed the best entry to the Universal Exposition of St. Louis in the United States. Unfortunately some of his paintings were destroyed by fire in World War II. He is recognized not only as an artist but as well as a hero in the Philippine history.

His Styles and Techniques

Juan Luna's paintings are described as being vigorous and dramatic and with romatic elements. His style shows the influence of Delacroix, Rembrandt, and Daumier.The great painters in the European art history.

Luna is remembered for a handful of paintings. Some of his historical works are “Spoliarium”and “Pacto de Sangre” [“Blood Compact”]. There are allegorical paintings of Luna such as  “España y Filipinas”,the “La Bulaqueña” or “Una Bulaqueña and the "Parisian Life".

Juan Luna Y Novicio Gallery

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Tampuhan by Juan LunaSpolarium 1884 by Juan LunaBlood CompactEl el balconPicnic in NormandyStreet Flower VendorDespues del baileGovernor Ramon Blanco
Tampuhan by Juan Luna
Tampuhan by Juan Luna
Spolarium 1884 by Juan Luna
Spolarium 1884 by Juan Luna
Blood Compact
Blood Compact
El el balcon
El el balcon
Picnic in Normandy
Picnic in Normandy
Street Flower Vendor
Street Flower Vendor
Despues del baile
Despues del baile
Governor Ramon Blanco
Governor Ramon Blanco
Under the Mango Tree  by Fernando Amorsolo
Under the Mango Tree by Fernando Amorsolo
Rice Field  by Fernando Amorsolo
Rice Field by Fernando Amorsolo
"The Parisian Life"  by Juan Luna
"The Parisian Life" by Juan Luna

Finally, what makes these paintings controversial then?

So, here is the story...Three paintings were bought by GSIS (Government Services Insurance System) government officials for its Art Museum sometime in October of 2002 from an auction is Hongkong for 53.5 million pesos. Two of these paintings are the arts of Amorsolo entitled " Under the Mango Tree" and " Rice Fields". The other one is the painting of Juan Luna, "The Parisian Life". The Commission on Audit of the said organization found the buying of these paintings to be excessive.

For this reason, the employee association of the said agency filed a case against the President and General Manager of GSIS together with nine other government officials for graft and grave misconduct.The employee groups said that the officers of the agency is mishandling the monetary contributions of its members. The petitioners however, may not be aware that GSIS is legally allowed to invest its funds to valuable properties. Those paintings are valuable piece of heritage. The painting of Juan Luna, "The Parisian Life" for one is 110 years old. The painting shows Luna himself with national hero Jose Rizal and Dr. Ariston Bautista Lim in a scene described as the “last gathering of great Filipinos on the eve of momentous events” in Paris. Luna reportedly made the painting months before the three returned to the country on the eve of the 1896 Philippine Revolution against Spain. This a very valuable piece of heritage that should be owned by the country. The purchase of those paintings are investments. Paintings must be seen not just as mere decorations but as form of investment. Availability of these great art works benefits the local artists.Consequently,development of talented painters and artists should be supported.

The issue was exploited by some politicians and was a headline on major newspapers. The Court of Appeals however dismissed the case due to insufficiency of evidence.







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Comments 20 comments

RedElf profile image

RedElf 7 years ago from Canada

Thanks so much for sharing these beautiful works!


Little Princess profile image

Little Princess 7 years ago Author

Hi RedElf, thank you for appreciating these works.I understand you are into Arts,Writing and Directing. Thanks for dropping by.


nikki1 profile image

nikki1 6 years ago

cool hub/artwork.


Little Princess profile image

Little Princess 6 years ago Author

Hi nikki1, thanks for dropping by.


RosWebbART profile image

RosWebbART 6 years ago from Ireland

beautiful artwork!


Little Princess profile image

Little Princess 6 years ago Author

Thanks for appreciating RosWebbART.Thanks for dropping by.


Jm 6 years ago

i like this page of yours! i hope that you could post more world-class filipino paintings here.

By the way. I had already put a link of yours from my site many times.

To see it, you may visit this link:

http://www.filipinoliterature.blogspot.com


Little Princess profile image

Little Princess 6 years ago Author

Thanks Jm for dropping by. I will try to post more filipino paintings.I will visit your blog.


blaise25 profile image

blaise25 6 years ago from close to you...

Juan Luna's works are breathtaking! :)

Thanks for sharing this hub. Was surprised to read the controversial "The Parisian Life" coz I've worked in the GSIS..


pinkhawk profile image

pinkhawk 6 years ago from Pearl of the Orient

...quite interesting and awesome!!! :) thank you for sharing these artful masterpieces, amazing! :)


Little Princess profile image

Little Princess 6 years ago Author

thanks pinkhawk.nice to hear from another kababayan.


tom hellert profile image

tom hellert 6 years ago from home

LP,

I aM A "SCIENCE GUY" ART IS LOST ON ME IN ALL HONESTY- SO I SHALL MERELY SAY- "pRETTY PICTURES "...

NICE HUB

TH


Jheica castro 5 years ago

thank for this information...im so very proud to a pinoy one...


jefe 4 years ago

you are right that the pieces of art that the gsis acquired and are good investments but if garcia used his 'intelligence' the price would not have reached that much because he was bidding against the owners of the paintings. check christies, they just sold another luna 'la espanola en el balcon' if am not it mistaken, it is older than the 'the parisian life'. luckily it was bought by a filipino


erica recamara 3 years ago

this was so amazing'' ang galing talaga ng mga pilipino noh?


Futamarka 3 years ago

Дело в том, что вы должны принимать женщину так, как она принимает вас, и в вопросе ее девственности положиться целиком на нее. Если мужчина будет мучить женщину впоследствии из-за того, что она вступила в брак не парикмахершей (соответствует ли это действительности или это только его мнение или подозрение), то ему следовало остаться холостяком.


breenaibe 3 years ago

My spouse and i helpful to obtain on top of life however as of late I've built up a weight.


prettyprincess 3 years ago

thanks for sharing this beautiful works


erancalumag 3 years ago

My passion for arts, particularly painting, was once again rekindled after decades of losing interest and neglect on my talent... Thanks for showing me again the beauty of visual arts!


GIORDANA 13 days ago

THANKS FOR YOU FOLLOW UP AND EXCELLENT FOR YOUR ART COUNTRY

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