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Fernando Amorsolo ( 1892 - 1972 )



Works / Contributions


Fernando C. Amorsolo, was born on May 30, 1892 in Paco, Manila. He spent the first 13 years of his youth in Daet, Camarines Norte.

He was a Nationalist Artist.

Already a promising artist at an early age, he busied himself in the midst of rice fields and abaca plantations sketching animals, seascapes, and landscapes. He spent time copying pictures from calendars and sitting by a wharf drawing ships at sea. During the revolutionary period, he was attracted to the guardia civil in the streets of Daet; he took them as subjects for his painting and drew them well.

While in Daet, Fernando and his brothers studied in a public school and were tutored on how to read and write in Spanish at home. Unfortunately, his father’s death left the family destitute and Fernando had to stop studying after only three years of formal schooling.

In 1905, the family returned to Manila and stayed with the painter Don Fabian dela Rosa who was his mother’s first cousin. Under Don Fabian’s guidance, Fernando learned to mix paints and to wield the brush as his uncle’s apprentice.

At 17, Amorsolo enrolled at the art school of the Liceo de Manila where, aside from being a scholar, he excelled in drawing and other subjects, and won prizes in several design contests. Later, he graduated from the U.P. School of Fine arts in 1914.

At the age of 70, Amorsolo underwent a cataract operation, but this, did not stop him in making great works. In 1971, he underwent an ear operation. He also suffered from diabetes, arthritis, headache and occasional dizziness. He became weak, but still he continues his painting when he felt a little better.

Amorsolo was married twice. His first wife was Salud Jorge whom he married in 1916 and by whom he had six children. Widowed fifteen years later, he married Maria del Carmen. They had eight children.

On April 24,1972 he died of heart failure at St. Luke’s Hospital at the age of 79. Four days after his death, he was conferred the First Philippine National artist award at the Cultural Center of the Philippine by President Ferdinand E. Marcos.



His most notable work as a student was his painting of a young man and a young woman in a garden. That won for him the first prize in the art school exhibition in his graduation year.

Before graduating, he found a well-paying job at the Pacific Commercial Company. Shortly after his graduation, he was taken as an instructor in fine arts. At the same time, he also took a part-time job as draftsman in the Bureau of Public Works.

From among the professors under whom Amorsolo studied at the Liceo de Manila and at the University of the Philippines, Rafael Enriquez, Miguel Zaragosa, and Toribio Herrera influenced him most..

Amorsolo started to be known outside the country when he joined the Exposicion de Panama in 1914. His entries were a large portrait of U.S. president Woodrow Wilson and an intriguing piece entitled La Muerte de Socrates. In 1919, he caught the attention of Don Enrique Zobel, a wealthy businessman and father of the modernist painter Fernando Zobel. He was sent as a scholar to the well-known Academia de San Fernando.

The whole decade of the twenties was Amorsolo’s creative peak. During this period he developed his interpretation of Philippine sunlight and landscapes which remain his greatest contributions to Philippine painting.


Works / Contributions

At the grand Central Gallery in New York City in 1925, Amorsolo held a one-man show, which attracted many Americans who were interested in the Philippines. He won the First prize at the New York’s world Fair in 1929. In 1931, Amorsolo also exhibited one of his anecdotal paintings, “The Conversion of the Filipinos” at the Paris Exposition. He was also awarded a grand prize when he exhibited his paintings at Manila Carnival’s Commercial and Industrial Fair in 1927. Because of his distinguished achievements in art, he was named Outstanding Alumnus of the University of the Philippines in 1940.

To devote himself full time to painting , Amorsolo retired from the directorship of the U.P. School of Fine Arts in 1952. He confined himself to studio, painting from sunrise to sunset. His paintings became popular that he could hardly meet the demand for commissioned works, especially portraits. In recognition of his artistic prowess, many awards were given to him.


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