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Art and Dr. José Rizal - Episode 7

The following quotation from the book Land of the Morning – The Philippines and its People describes the situation in the Philippines:

“Jose Rizal (1861-1896) is regarded as the most important hero of the Philippine nation and is frequently portrayed in an idealized light. Born to a well to do Illustrado family, he was an educated and cosmopolitan man of his times.”

He was also something of a renaissance man with interests as diverse as science, agriculture, painting and sculpture. Rizal wrote two novels – Noli me Tangere and El Filibusterismo – which were deeply critical of colonial society.

Rizal lived and studied in Spain and Europe for nearly ten years and was active in reformist circles who urged change in the Philippines. ….

Sometime in 1890, Juan Luna painted the portrait of Dr. Jose Rizal when they met in Paris. Now a part of the art collection of Tony & Cecil Gutierrez, it was inscribed “Ami querido amigo” – my beloved friend.

Another connection between Rizal and art were the twenty one illustrations in Noli Me Tangere in 1892 by Juan Luna. As Jun Terra stated in the book Juan Luna Drawings – Paris Period: “Luna´s intention in these illustrations, done in aqua fortis, was to present Rizal´s ideas in such a way as to make them clear even to children and the illiterate.” …..

When Rizal studied in Spain for three years, he took up painting at the Academia de Bellas Artes de San Fernando.

In one of his letters to his father he said his drawing classes lasted for five hours. “Í wanted to learn landscape painting,” wrote Rizal, “because the Philippines is a country of landscapes.”

He painted as many landscapes as he could and when he returned to the Philippines in August, 1887, he gave some of his paintings to his friends and relatives.

During his brief stay in Calamba in 1887, he spent part of his leisure time painting landscapes. Several years before, he wrote the poem entitled ´In Memory of My Town´. Now, he enjoyed painting landscapes of his town.

During his stay in Dapitan, Rizal spent part of his spare time sculpting and painting. He helped paint the curtain of the church in Dapitan. In happy remembrance of Leonor Valenzuela, one of his lady friends, he painted a nipa house in a farm in Dapitan. The painting was done on a pair of mother-of-pearl.

In another booklet, “Rizal´s Tears and Smiles” by Benedicta Ma. Rosario, additional information is provided regarding Rizal´s interest in art:

“He spent hours in museums, libraries, and galleries, learning things, always adding to his information about people and places. Rizal completed his studies in Spain. He obtained the degree of Licentiate in Philosophy and Letters, and a degree of Licentiate in Medicine.” ….

Fabian de la Rosa, Director of the School of Fine Arts in UP succinctly wrote: “And now the memory of our immortal countryman, Rizal, comes back to me....He believed during his stay in Europe, that spending a few hours in exercising himself in the practice of any plastic in graphic art, no matter how elementary, would be benificial to the intelligence and would refine aesthetic sensibilities. This was what he did in fact: he matriculated in the School of Fine Arts in Madrid, working conscientiously and with fervent enthusiasm on the study of design until he reached the natural, up to the point of meriting the praises of his professors, especially when they learned that he did not intend to become a professional artist. And this knowledge of art must have influenced favorably his literary productions, since there are descriptive passages in them which seemed to be pictures done by an inspired artist.”

One well known filipino sculpturist, Anastacio Caeda furnished the statue of Rizal at Rizal Park in Wilhelmsfeld, Germany close to Heidelberg, the place were Dr. José Rizal lived during his stay in Germany and where he wrote major parts of his first novel “Noli Me Tangere”.

The bust of Rizal by Anastacio Caedo made of “plaster of Paris” is the identical copy of the bust located at Rizal Park in Wilhelmsfeld.

This bust made by Anastacio Caedo in Plaster of Paris is located in the Magkaisa Creative Space in Dasmarinas/ Cavite.


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