Fernando Cueto Amorsolo (born Fernando Amorsolo y Cueto; May 30, 1892 – April 24, 1972) was a portraitist and painter of rural Philippine landscapes. Nicknamed the “Grand Old Man of Philippine Art,” he was the first-ever to be recognized as a National Artist of the Philippines. He was recognized as such for his “pioneering use of impressionistic technique” as well as his skill in the use of lighting and backlighting in his paintings, “significant not only in the development of Philippine art but also in the formation of Filipino notions of self and identity.”
Amorsolo set up his own studio upon his return to Manila and painted during the 1920s and the 1930s. His Rice Planting (1922), which appeared on posters and tourist brochures became one of the most popular images of the Commonwealth of the Philippines. Beginning in the 1930s, Amorsolo’s work was exhibited widely in the Philippines and abroad.
Amorsolo was sought after by influential Filipinos including Luis Araneta, Antonio Araneta and Jorge B. Vargas. Due to his popularity, Amorsolo had to resort to photographing his works, sticking and mounting them in an album allowing patrons to choose from this catalog of his work. Amorsolo avoidedd creating exact replicas of his trademark themes by recreating the paintings by varying some elements.
His works later appeared on the cover and pages of children textbooks, in novels, in commercial designs, in cartoons and illustrations for Philippine publications such The Independent, Philippine Magazine, Telembang, El Renacimiento Filipino, and Excelsior. He served as the director of the University of the Philippine’s College of Fine Arts from 1938 to 1952.
During the 1950s until his death in 1972, Amorsolo averaged finishing 10 paintings a month. However, during his later years, diabetes, cataracts, arthritis, headaches, dizziness and the death of two of his sons affected the execution of his works. Amorsolo underwent a cataract operation when he was 70 years old, a surgery that did not impede him from drawing and painting.
Amorsolo was a close friend of the Philippine sculptor Guillermo Tolentino, the creator of Filipino patriot Andrés Bonifacio’s monument in Caloocan City.
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