The Stories Behind These Four Amorsolo Paintings Donated to the National Museum
Last week, the National Museum of the Philippines formally accepted four Fernando C. Amorsolo pieces from the Judge Guillermo B. Guevara Foundation, Inc. The donation coincides with Amorsolo's 50th anniversary of being proclaimed as the country's first National Artist.
These four paintings are "Portrait of Judge Guillermo B. Guevara," "Bataan," "Wakas ni Magallanes," and "The Assassination of Governor Bustamante." The works were previously displayed at the University of the Philippines-Diliman main library before they were loaned to the National Museum in 2020. Now, they get to sit in the museum's hands for good.
National Museum Director-General Jeremy R. Barns and representatives signed the deed of donation. They received the works from Chairman Victor Guevara.
"The Portrait of Judge Guillermo B. Guevara" was completed in 1950 and can be seen at the Early 20th Century Philippine Portrait Hall. Judge Guevara is best known as the founder of criminology in the Philippines and was one of the Magsaysay presidency's staunchest voices against graft and corruption. The judge started collecting Amorsolos sometime in the 1950s, first acquiring "Bataan." He eventually commissioned the artist to paint "Ang Wakas ni Magallanes" and “Assassination of Governor Bustamante.”
"The Portrait of Judge Guillermo B. Guevara" (1950) by Fernando C. Amorsolo, Oil on Canvas.
"Bataan," on the other hand, commemorates the tragedy of The Fall of Bataan. Here, Amorsolo tries to capture the horrors of the Second World War. Finished in 1942, the painting shows us a fallen soldier and his mother, reminiscent of Michelangelo’s "Pietà."
The painting follows a proud line of wartime pieces done by the National Artist, such as “Burning of Santo Domingo Church” and “The Burning of Manila" in 1942, as well as the “Ruins of the Legislative Building” in 1945.
It is said that Amorsolo opted to erase the USAFFE (United States Army Forces – Far East) buckle from the soldier’s uniform because of the artist's fear of repercussions from the Japanese occupation at the time. Amorsolo kept the painting for about 14 years before it was given to the judge. Museum visitors can now view it at Gallery VIII — Silvina and Juan Laya Hall.
"Bataan" (1942) by Fernando C. Amorsolo, Oil on Canvas.
As for "Ang Wakas ni Magallanes," this piece is inspired by the death of Ferdinand Magellan in Mactan, Cebu. Done in 1963, it is Amorsolo's only known depiction of the theme. The painting now hangs in the Galleries XXV and XXVI: The Longest Journey: The First Journey Around the World.
"Ang Wakas ni Magallanes" (1963) by Fernando C. Amorsolo, Oil on Canvas.
Meanwhile, "The Assassination of Governor Bustamante" from 1965 is Amorsolo's take on the same subject of Felix Resurreccion Hidalgo's version, which can be found at the museum's Spoliarium Hall. The piece narrates the assassination of Governor-General Fernando Bustamante and his son at the Palacio del Gobernador in Intramuros back in October 11, 1719. They were mobbed by friars, meeting their demise.
His death, including his wife's subsequent revenge, were also portrayed in the theater production La Loba Negra at the Cultural Center of the Philippines in 1984.
"The Assassination of Governor Bustamante" (1965) by Fernando C. Amorsolo, Oil on Canvas.
The paintings are on display at the National Museum of Fine Arts. Visit the Judge Guillermo B. Guevara Foundation, Inc.'s official website for more information.