Philippine artist Fernando Amorsolo (1892-1972) was a portraitist and
painter of rural landscapes. He is best known for his craftsmanship and
mastery in the use of light.
Fernando Amorsolo was born May 30,
1892, in the Paco district of Manila. At 13 he was apprenticed to the
noted Philippine artist Fabian de la Rosa, his mother's first cousin. In
1909 Amorsolo enrolled at the Liceo de Manila and then attended the
fine-arts school at the University of the Philippines, graduating in 1914.
After working three years as a commercial artist and part-time instructor
at the university, he studied at the Escuela de San Fernando in Madrid.
For seven months he sketched at the museums and on the streets of Madrid,
experimenting with the use of light and color. That winter he went to New
York and discovered the works of the postwar impressionists and cubists,
who became the major influence on his works. On his return to Manila, he
set up his own studio.
During this period, Amorsolo
developed the use of light--actually, backlight--which is his greatest
contribution to Philippine painting. Characteristically, an Amorsolo
painting contains a glow against which the figures are outlined, and at
one point of the canvas there is generally a burst of light that
highlights the smallest detail.
During the 1920s and 1930s
Amorsolo's output of paintings was prodigious. In 1939 his oil Afternoon
Meal of the Workers won first prize at the New York World's Fair.
During World War II Amorsolo continued to paint. The Philippine collector
Don Alfonso Ongpin commissioned him to execute a portrait in absentia of
Gen. Douglas MacArthur, which he did at great personal risk. He also
painted Japanese occupation soldiers and self-portraits. His wartime
paintings were exhibited at the Malacanang presidential palace in 1948.
After the war Amorsolo served as director of the college of fine arts of
the University of the Philippines, retiring in 1950. Married twice, he had
13 children, five of whom became painters.
Amorsolo was noted for his
portraits. He made oils of all the Philippine presidents, including the
revolutionary leader Gen. Emilio Aguinaldo, and other noted Philippine
figures. He also painted many wartime scenes, including Bataan, Corner
of Hell, and One Casualty.
Amorsolo, who died in 1972, is
said to have painted more than 10,000 pieces. He continued to paint even
in his late 70s, despite arthritis in his hands. Even his late works
feature the classic Amorsolo tropical sunlight. He said he hated "sad
and gloomy" paintings, and he executed only one painting in which
"BookRags Biography on Fernando Amorsolo." 15 July