Fernando Amorsolo

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Fernando Amorsolo was a renowned and famous Philippine artist, whose rural landscapes and portraits were much sought after and critically acclaimed.

Fernando Amorsolo was born on May 30, 1892, in the Paco district, Manila. From a very early age, his great artistic capabilities became evident to all, and hence, at the age of 13, he began training as an apprentice for influential Philippine artists, Fabian de la Rosa, who also happened to be the first cousin of his mother. In 1909, Fernando began attending the Liceo de Manila, and soon after, he enrolled himself at the fine arts school of the University of Philippines.

Upon graduating in 1914, Fernando began his career as a commercial artists, along with being at the part-time instructor at the University. However, three years later he grew weary and packed his bags to move to Madrid, where he enrolled himself at the Escuela de San Fernando. For the next seven months, Fernando immersed himself in giving free reign to his artistic passions, visiting Museums where he would sit for hours sketching the great works of notable artists, or walking down the streets of Madrid, sketching random people and experimenting with the interplay of natural light and colors.

After seven months, Fernando decided to visit New York, and there he encountered the works of post-war impressionists and cubists, who left a deep and profound influence on his aesthetic sense and artistic style. He returned to Manila, and established his own private studio. He began experimenting light, and he developed the use of backlight, which is regarded as his greatest contribution to the Philippine art of painting. During the 20s and 30s, he garnered immense fame, commercial success and critical acclaim, and in 1939, his iconic painting, ‘Afternoon Meal of the Workers’ was awarded the 1st prize at the New York Worlds’ Fair.

Throughout the WWII, Fernando’s art and production of paintings remained undisturbed, and he emerged as one of the greatest wartime painters. He was commissioned by Don Alonso Ongpin, an influential Philippine collector, for a portrait in absentia of Gen. Douglas McArthur, which exposed Fernando to various risks and dangers. During this period, he painted a great deal of Japanese occupation soldiers along with some self-portraits. In 1948, he showcased his wartime paintings at an exhibition arranged at the Malacanang Presidential Palace.

Following the war, Fernando was appointed as the Director of the College of Fine Arts of the University of the Philippines, he served this post until 1950. Fernando wanted to create dazzling and captivating canvases that featured a truly remarkable combination of sunlight and colours. Fernando admitted to have hated “sad and gloomy” paintings, and hence, he has one made on painting that features rain. He has painted over 10,000 paintings, and of which, he owed his fame largely to his portraits. His work in oils include portraits of Philippine presidents, revolutionary leader Gen. Emilio Aguinaldo and many others.

Fernando Amorsolo passed away in 1972. Some of his best works include, ‘One Casualty’, ‘Corner of Hell’ and ‘Bataan’ among many others.

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