detail from Labels for Hair Ribbons by Manuel Ocampo a delectable selection of oriental appetizers
Wednesday, August 03, 2005

: . Book of the Month

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Album: Islas Filipinas, 1663-1888
by Jose Maria A. CariƱo and Sonia Pinto Ner
Makati City, Philippines: Ars Mundi, Philippinae, 2004
Hardcover, 295 pages
PHP 4,500.00/USD 80-450
ISBN 971925811X


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Also Read:

Album of the Glorious Hispanic Centuries
by Augusto Villalon

Book Info:
Before the invention of photography, albums of paintings and sketches were the most vivid and portable portrayals of historic events and day-to-day scenes. Album: Islas Filipinas, 1663-1888 compiles some of the numerous albums produced during that period and weaves for its reader a compelling pictorial story of the Philippines when it was under the Spanish colonial government.

It covers a wide range of artworks -- from calligraphy to cartography, from military uniforms to Manila costumes, from playing cards to building plans, all of which attest to the skill and discipline of 17th to 19th century artists -- from the more well-known artists like Jose Honorato Lozano, Damian Domingo, Justiniano Asuncion to the recently discovered ones like Esperidion de la Rosa and Felix Martinez. The book reveals artworks never before seen in the Philippines and traces the development of tipos filipinos -- from the earliest ones in the Spanish Archives when Philippine painting started to become secular, to the more polished works of Domingo and Asuncion and the more spontaneous and lifelike works by Felix Martinez.

Short articles on how to establish authenticity in artworks will also help illuminate on this painstaking but necessary task.

Album: Islas Filipinas, 1663-1888 is a new way of looking at and seeing the Philippines -- from the visionaries of that period.
Publisher Info:
Ars Mundi, Philippinae, publisher of this volume, is a non-profit organization whose main objectives are research, documentation and promotion of Philippine art and culture. It was established by a small group of art aficionados who are based in the Philippines and Europe. This is the second publication of the group, a result of research and archives in the Philippines, Europe and the United States. Its first publication, Jose Honorato Lozano, Filipinas 1847 won the Manila Critics Circle 2002 National Book Award for Art. Members of Ars Mundi, Philippinae include Jose Maria A. Carino, Sonia P. Ner, Remigio I. David, and Rowena Ranudo Carino.
Author Info:
Jose Maria A. Carino is an avid researcher of Philippine art and history and a collector of 19th century Philippine art. In 2002, his book Jose Honorato Lozano, Filipinas 1847 won the Manila Critics Circle National Book Award for Art and the Alfonso Ongpin Art History Research Award, and his book Discovering Philippine Art in Spain won an Anvil Award for Excellence in 1999. A career diplomat by profession, he has been posted in Madrid and London and is currently Consul General at the Philippine Embassy in Spain.

Sonia Pinto Ner has had multi-careers as an academician, an art manager, director of Ayala Museum, and executive director of Asia Society Philippines. She has edited and managed the publication of more than a dozen award-winning books, among them Dom Martin Gomez's Worship and Weave, and Jaime Zobel's Homage, The Island, and Silence. Her first collaboration with Jose Maria A. Carino was as editor of his award-winning book Jose Honorato Lozano, Filipinas 1847. Throughout her various careers, she has kept a lively interest in Philippine art and history.
Album: The Imagination Unbound, Details of Pure Delight -- 10

Tipos Filipinos, Maps, Building Plans and Playing Cards at the Archivo General de Indias -- 12

Philippine Drawings from the Malaspina Expedition -- 42

Fiestas en Manila, Ano 1825 -- 72

Damian Domingo Album -- 88

Tipos del Pais by Esperidion de la Rosa -- 114

Manila Costumes by Justiniano Asuncion -- 126

Karuth's Album on the Philippine Islands -- 152

Album de Tipos de Filipinas para el Excmo. Sr. D. Jose de la Gandara -- 184

Class Act: Prizewinning Works by Students of Felipe Roxas -- 212

Caligrafia -- 226

Filipinas 1887-1888 by Jose Taviel de Andrade -- 246

Tipos Filipinos at the Museo Nacional de Antropologia by Felix Martinez y Lorenzo -- 270

In Excelsis -- 288

References -- 290

Acknowledgments -- 295

Album: The Imagination Unbound, Details of Pure Delight

Drawings in graphite, pen-and-ink sketches and watercolor paintings were popular visual records of events and local scenes before the invention of photography. Bound together, these sheets formed albums that became popular souvenirs from visiting foreigners to families and friends back home, as they were both vivid and portable portrayals of what they saw first hand. Departing government officials were gifted with these albums while some commissioned their production to serve as accompanying illustrations to their written reports. Some albums served as catalogs, to showcase the produce and commodities that the country had to offer -- much like what catalogs do now. Those who had talent drew their own albums; others hired local artists to depict the local scenes for them. When the Phlippines was opened to world trade in 1834, more foreign businessmen came to visit the country and demand for these albums increased. At the end of their trips, these foreigners brought these albums back to their home countries, mostly the foreign shores of Spain and England. Some of these albums have changed ownership many times over and a number have remained in private collections.

The value of an album lies in the multiplicity of available images, which enable its viewers to envisage a more cohesive account or a complete picture of a given subject matter. Sadly, some albums have been taken apart by antiquarian dealers and sold as individual sheets -- to sell these sheets faster, and at a price better than one entire album can command -- so that now, tracking down what the former pages of an album in order to put them together is next to impossible. Fortunately, some albums find their way to government museums, libraries and archives, where they remain in safe and climate-controlled conditions. There they are largely ignored save for the sporadic visits of art historians, researchers and writers who seek them out for reproduction in a publication or display in an exhibit.

The albums featured in this book were all made during the Spanish regime and a number of them are now stored in culture institutions in Spain. Various heads of museums, libraries and archives confirmed in our interviews with them that, as far as their records indicate, when the illustrations arrived (usually from expeditions) the sheets were typically bound or tied together much like a scrapbook, and encased in a container that is about the size of a portfolio. Later, these sheets were put together as albums.

Today, most of these albums are dismantled and each sheet is encased in a protective acid-free plastic that help filter the sunlight. These individual plastic casings facilitate the individual display of the pieces, as they are open on either side to allow the materials to slide out easily They also protect the sheets from acidity during handling. Sheets that belong to the same album are placed together in the same carpeta or portfolio.

In selecting which albums to include in the book, the following criteria were used. We wanted only albums of original works that were accessible and could be closely studied. We preferred those that have not been reproduced in other Philippine publications -- or at least not in their entirety. We wanted to cover as great a variety of subjects as possible; hence, the book covers calligraphy, soldiers['] uniforms, architectural studies, costumes, and maps. And since most of the albums we culled were clearly commissioned, either by private individuals or the government, we also wanted to include an album that was done by the artist for himself -- a personal album done for no reason other than to record what he saw. Jose Taviel de Andrade's album was such an album. In it were drawings, watercolors and oils [end of page 10]by this bodyguard assigned to Jose Rizal. The Taviel de Andrade album and Antonio Chacon y Conde's Fiestas en Manila both provide the foreigner's perspective to otherwise purely local perspectives, We wanted to include an album by a female artist or at least one or two pieces within the other of the albums but found none -- a telling commentary on the status of women then.

Another paramount consideration in our selection was the authenticity of the albums. Authenticity is what separates national treasures from mere trifle; it is important for the credibility and scholarship of the research. Most importantly, it assures that a piece of art is an original creation of the artist to whom the work is attributed. Either or both of the authors have examined meticulously all artworks included in this book; those stored and displayed in museums, archives and public institutions have been carefully examined, checked and tested by the institutions' scientists and technicians.

While most of the featured pieces were signed by the artists, those unsigned were examined methodically to allow us to assign attributions to these works. We carefully established the provenance of these albums, referring to other known works and primary sources; hence, our insistence on seeing and studying the original works. There have been regrettable instances in the past when "art experts" made pronouncements on Philippine paintings -- calling them either fakes or treasures -- without actually having laid their eyes on said paintings. Also included in the book are short accounts on the topic of authenticity to instruct and enlighten those interested on this subject matter.

The featured albums also present a variety of artistic styles and skills that give the book a richer, more interesting texture. We have the polished and studied watercolors of Justiniano Asuncion, Damian Domingo and Jose Lozano side by side the more spontaneous sketches of Taviel de Andrade and the ingenuous watercolors of Esperidion de la Rosa. The albums also vary in their number of plates, from a scant six plates in one Esperidion de la Rosa Album to the Karuth Album, which has over 70 plates.

On the matter of presentation, we made sure that the images were restored to their original sequence: in some albums, there was a clear logical order that would be readily apparent to the viewer, while there was no discernible rhyme nor reason in the others. There were occasional sheets that were numbered. Some albums had every plate captioned or titled, and we made sure that these captions were presented in their original forms. Available captions were translated into English; those with none were supplied with captions that were then enclosed in parentheses. Each chapter also starts with a calligraphic letter done by the students of Escuela Normal de Maestros de Instruccion Primaria for the 1875 Philadelphia Exposition.

This book is a pictorial story of the Philippines -- from the mid-17th century up to the closing decades of the 19th century. We kept words to a minimum and devoted more space to the artworks to allow them to tell the story, and our readers to discover for themselves the fine details and nuances in the artworks. A number of the featured images will be seen in the Philippines for the first time.

We are publishing this book to turn public attention to newly discovered facets and details of our past and to equip Filipinos with the knowledge that will foster deeper understanding of what we are as a people. We hope that our readers will take to this book in the same manner we took to the albums and all their intricacies when we first saw them: highly informative, thoroughly engaging, as if made of pure delight. [end of page 11]
In Excelsis

Emblematic traditional Japanese art calls to mind the works of Hokusai, Hiroshige, Utamaro, and other Japanese artists who painted in that distinctive style which the French impressionists greatly admired in the 19th century. Chinese, Indian and Balinese paintings also have their distinctive characteristics that make them unmistakeably Chinese, Indian and Balinese.

Most artworks featured in this book are from the 19th century. Based on an attentive comparison of the images in this book, one can say that the artist who most vividly captures the essence of Filipino sensibility is Jose Honorato Lozano. His art depicts the essential characteristics of the Filipino psyche more than any other artist of that century. Most of his watercolors are done on paper, a favorite material among Asians; his treatment and subject matter are also more Asian than European. His images do not use the perspective, volume, chiaroscuro, and focused composition that are favored by the Europeans, and his use of brilliant colors is, indeed, more akin to the works of Chinese and Japanese traditional painters than the more somber, darker shades of Western art. However, Lozano imbibed certain European influences -- his letras y figuras is derived from the capitulars in the illuminated Bibles and prayer books brought by the Spaniards to the Philippines for the propagation of Christianity

Most noteworthy are the compositions of his genre scenes as well as his letras y figuras, which contain what is probably the most Filipino and folksy elements in his art: the need to tell a story -- rather, the compulsion to tell as many stories as possible in one narrative sweep, either in conversations or on the canvas. Filipinos love stories thick with subplots and lead their lives surrounded by these tales. The same can be said of the Filipino's preferences in the visual arts, often favoring narrative paintings. Lozano's depictions of people evoke this very Filipino compulsion, with his predisposition to disorder rather than order, to numerous foci than a single point of focus. People in his paintings are involved in numerous unrelated activities and that sense of horreur vacui or a fear of empty spaces is evoked, reflecting the folksiness of Philippine culture and psyche at its most down-to-earth.

Lozano's paintings have influenced the works of other artists like Marcos Ortega, C. Laforteza, Eustaquio Villanueva, and Miguel Anonuevo; the abovementioned characteristic is also similarly manifested in the works of latter generations of artists like Lorenzo Guerrero ("El Fuego"), Felix Martinez ("Sailing by the Pasig") and Juan Senson ("Vista Parcial del Pueblo de Angono y Laguna de Bae"). In contemporary Philippine art, the works of Botong Francisco, Pitok Blanco, the cartoonist Larry Alcala and many others show the style favored by Lozano.

Nationalism in Art

In the 20th century, one of the issues that has been argued, mulled over and written about in the course of many years and several generations of artists is the definition of Philippine art. For artists there remains the immense pressure to create art that is meaningful to his audience, i.e. works that are recognizably Filipino, rather than what comes from his imagination, his inspiration, his mind and his soul. Such an expectation delimits the artist's creativity so much so that many great artworks by Filipino artists have been rejected, ignored or discarded, over the simple fact that the subject matter is not Filipiniana.

This myopic vision of art can possibly be traced to an belief that the Philippines is the center of the world. Overt and determined displays of Filipinism throughout our long period of struggle to prove our worth as a nation have permeated our art, resulting in artists desperately injecting trite emblems of Filipino identity in their works. Partly, our "radical nationalists" whose abhorrence and rejection of things alien, colonial, imperialiy, non-Filipino or simply things they cannot understand, resulted in such "tunnel vision" for some Philippine artists.

External Influences

Most countries, at one point or another in their histoy, have been colonized or affected by some or other form of migration. Each wave of colonization or migration brings with it new forms of art, culture and civilization. Radical nationalism, therefore, is not the only way to show one's patriotism and love of country: it may even be a hindrance to a mature understanding of true patriotism. Most developed countries embrace their past and, through such maturity, become confident of what they are as today's modern states. No longer do they debate the past -- which they cannot change, but instead, are proud of it because it has enriched their [end of page 288] people and their cultures.

Spain, which colonized the Philippines for almost four centuries, have also been colonized by waves after waves of conquerors including, the Visigoths, Celts, Greeks, Romans, Moors, and the Spaniards are not ashamed of these events in their history. As one of the top four tourism destinations in the world, they are proud of this diverse cultural heritage and highlight it by restoring and preserving important structures that reflect this diversity: the Alhambra in Granada, and the Cordoba Mosque that was built by the Moors from Africa who occupied Spain for over seven hundred years, the millenary Roman aqueduct in Segovia that until today supplies the city with water, and the Jewish structures in Toledo.

Universality of Filipino Art

Philippine art and culture are a melting pot of influences -- from China and Japan, to Spain, Mexico and the United States, to mention a few. Searching for a purely Filipino art will therefore be an exercise in futility. Philippine art will also be a predictable bore if it consists of nothing else but nipa huts, bamboo and coconut trees, carabaos, dalagas or maidens, jeepneys, the barong tagalog, and Filipinized and saccharine images of Mother and Child.

For the sake of simplicity and expedience, in this book we classified Philippine art as a local or a foreign artist's expression and interpretation of a country -- whether another person's or our own -- its environment and prevailing cultural psyche at a specific and time.

Art is universal. No country has a monopoly over what it should be. The best works of the French impressionist painter Paul Gauguin are Tahitian scenes and those of Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh are his works of the French people and the French countryside. The universal appreciation of their art makes both Gauguin and Van Gogh truly universal artists.

We do not have to look too far for examples of our own universal Filipino artists. In the 19th century, painters Juan Luna, Felix Resurreccion Hidalgo and Esteban Villanueva, and sculptor Felix Pardo de Tavera, produced works that competed and bested the leading artists of Europe and the Americas. The best works of Luna and Hidalgo are those they done in France, Spain and Italy, countries where they practiced what they learned from their training in the European academies, as well as the trends and tastes of their European clientele. Their works are appreciated for the skill and talent it took to create them, regardless of their race or nationality.

Proof of this universality is the price they fetch in auctions of European works by our Filipino masters.

It is, indeed, quite fortunate that in the Philippine art scene, the trend towards having art galleries in malls and the increasing publications on art and culture are contributing towards a better, more general and more mature appreciation of our art. Art and culture has shed off the misconception that it is the domain and privilege of the higher strata of Philippine society -- truly, art belongs to the people.

What is probably most important is that our artist[s] and their art must inspire us, raise our spirits and elevate our consciousness about national identity. Our national hero Jose Rizal rightly put it in the sonnet "A Filipinas," that we must exalt the Philippines! He wrote the sonnet in February 1880, when he was a second year medical student at the Universidad de Santo Tomas and around the same time when he had his romance with his great love and cousin Leonor Rivera. He wrote in the poem in the Album de la Sociedad de Escultores de Manila but it was first published in La Independencia on 2 December 1898. Rizal was already well known when the sonnet was written -- it was after he won the contest held by Liceo Artistico Literario de Manila with his ode, "A la Juventud Filipina."

A Filipinas
(En el album de escultores filipinos)

Ardiente y bella cual huri del cielo
Graciosa y pura cual naciente aurora
Cuando las nubes de zafir colora,
Duerme una diosa del indiano suelo.

Besa sus plantas con amante anhelo
La leve espuma de la mar Sonora;
El culto Ocaso su sonrisa adora
Y el cano Polo su florido velo.

Mi Musa, balbuciente con ternura,
La canta entre las Nayades y Ondinas;
Yo lo ofrezco mi dicha y mi ventura.

De verde mirto y rosas purpurinas
Y azucenas cenid su frente pura,
Artistas, y ensalzad a Filipinas!

Febrero 1880

For the Philippines
(In the guestbook of Filipino sculptors)

Ardent and beauteous like an houri from Heaven
Gracious and pure like the rising dawn
When the sapphire clouds take color,
A goddess of the native soil sleeps.

The light foam from the sonorous sea
Kisses its flora with the lover's desire,
The elegant Sunset is enamoured by her smile
And gray-haired her flowered veil.

My Muse, bubbling with tenderness
Sings among the Naiads and Undines;
I offer to her my bliss and fortune.

Artists, crown her clear front
With green myrtle, golden roses and lilies,
And exalt the Philippines!

February 1880
(Translation by Marisol Carino) [end of page 289]

Pedro de Galarraga. (Detail of Uniforms for Philippine Troops). 6 July 1780. Watercolor on paper. 28.9 cm x 41.4 cm. Archivo General de Indias (Sevilla) Collection.
[page 20-1]

Juan Ravenet. "Mestizos de Manila, Yslas Filipinas" (Mestizos from Manila, Philippine Islands). 1792. Pen and ink and colored goache on paper. 22.5 cm. x 18.5 cm. Museo de America (Madrid) Collection.
[page 63]

Juan Ravenet. "Casa de banos en Manila" (Bath houses in Manila). 1792. 24 cm x 35.5 cm. Pen and ink and sepia gouache on paper. Museo Naval (Madrid) Collection.
[page 67]

Antonio Chacon y Conde (?). "Vista de la ilumniacion de la fachada de la capilla de la Orden Tercera de San Francisco. (View of the Lighting of the Facade of the Chapel of the Third Order of Saint Francis. From an album commemorating the festivities in honor of the arrival of the portrait of King Felipe VII, 18 December 1825. Pen and ink and watercolor on paper. 41 cm. x 53.5 cm. Real Biblioteca del Palacio Real (Madrid) Collection.
[page 86]

Damian Domingo. "Un Indio Labrador" (A Native Laborer). [Between 1827-1832]. Colored gouache on rice paper. Approximately 20.5 cm. x 30.5 cm. Dr. Eleuterio Pascual Collection.
[page 99]

Damian Domingo. "Un India Pescadora de Manila" (A Fish Vendor of Manila). Between 1827-1832. Colored gouache on rice paper. Approximately 20.5 cm. x 30.5 cm. Dr. Eleuterio Pascual Collection.
[page 107]

Esperidion de la Rosa. "El Gobernadorcillo de Mestizos" (Mayor of Mestizos). Between 1820-1840. Watercolor on paper. 32 cm. X 23.5 cm. Private Collection.
[page 122]

Esperidion de la Rosa. "La India Viuda" (The Native Widow). Between 1820-1840. Watercolor on paper. 32 cm. X 23.5 cm. Private Collection.
[page 123]

Justiniano Asuncion. Untitled (Mestiza with Embroidered Panuelo and Parasol). 1840s. Watercolor on wove paper. Approximately 30 cm. x 18 cm. Private Collection.
[page 144]

Justiniano Asuncion. Untitled (Man with his Prized Cock). 1840s. Watercolor on wove paper. Approximately 30 cm. x 18 cm. Private Collection.
[page 140]

Justiniano Asuncion. Untitled (Old Beggar Led by a Young Boy). 1840s. Watercolor on wove paper. Approximately 30 cm. x 18 cm. Private Collection.
[page 151]

Jose Honorato Lozano. "Vista de la entrada de la Calzada de San Sebastian hasta la Yglesia de Nuestra Senora del Carmen" (View of the entrance from San Sebastian Street to the Our Lady of Carmen Church). 1867. Watercolor on paper. Approximately 36 cm. x 49 cm. Private Collection.
[page 201]

Jose Honorato Lozano. "Ygorrotes. Un asecho de los viajeros que transitan por el camino del Monte Caraballo en la provincia de Cagayan. Dibujado por el Coronel Secretario Don Manuel Penaranda" (Igorots. A road ambush of travellers in Mount Caraballo in the Province of Cagayan. Based on the drawing by Secretary and Colonel Don Manuel Penaranda). 1867. Watercolor on paper. Approximately 36 cm. x 49 cm. Private Collection.
[page 201]

Felipe Roxas. (Detail from Holy Friday Procession). 1866. Oil on canvas. 41 cm. x 61 cm. Private Collection.
[page 213]

Mariano Arguelles. Untitled (From "Filipinas, Manila. Ensayos caligraficos por algunos alumnos de la Escuela Normal de Maestros de Instruccion Primaria dirigida por los p.p. de la Compania de Jesus. Presentados en la Exposicion de Filadelfia. Ano de 1875" [Philippines, Manila. Excercises in Calligraphy by some students of the Normal School of Teachers of Primary Intruction. Directed by the Priest of the Society of Jesus. Presented in the Philadelphia Exposition. 1875). 1875. Pen and ink on paper. 48.5 cm. x 64 cm. Biblioteca Nacional (Madrid) Collection.
[page 238]

Macario de Ocampo. "Manila 1 de Marzo de 1875" (From "Filipinas, Manila. Ensayos caligraficos por algunos alumnos de la Escuela Normal de Maestros de Instruccion Primaria dirigida por los p.p. de la Compania de Jesus. Presentados en la Exposicion de Filadelfia. Ano de 1875" [Philippines, Manila. Excercises in Calligraphy by some students of the Normal School of Teachers of Primary Intruction. Directed by the Priest of the Society of Jesus. Presented in the Philadelphia Exposition. 1875). 1875. Pen and ink on paper. 50 cm. x 73 cm. Biblioteca Nacional (Madrid) Collection.
[page 241]

Jose Taviel de Andrade. Detail from "Panguingue." 1895. Oil on canvas. 61 cm. x 88 cm. Private Collection.
[page 249]

Felix Martinez y Lorenzo. "Indio Guitarrista" (Indio Guitar Player). 1887. Watercolor on paper. 62.5 cm x 38.5 cm. Museo Nacional de Antropologia (Madrid) Collection.
[page 287]

Felix Martinez y Lorenzo. "India Servienta" (Indio Servantmaid). 1886. Watercolor on paper. 51 cm. x 36 cm. Museo Nacional de Antropologia (Madrid) Collection.
[page 279]

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