Fabian de la Rosa and His Times

Fabian de la Rosa and His Times

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Editor/Contributor: Ana Maria Theresa P. Labrador
Contributors: Macario Ofilada Mina, Santiago Albano Pilar, Luciano PR Santiago        

As the first Filipino director of the UP School of Fine Arts (now the UP College of Fine Arts), Fabian de la Rosa is considered part of the last generation of artists influenced and taught by Lorenzo Guerrero, Miguel Zaragoza, Simon Flores, Juan Luna, and Felix Resurreccion Hidalgo. In 1904, he won the gold medal at the St. Louis Exposition in Missouri for his painting entitled Planting Rice, becoming one of the earliest Filipino artists to gain international recognition after the aforementioned Flores, Luna, and Hidalgo.

Fabian de la Rosa and His Times is a visual overview and collection of essays on a Filipino master whose acclaimed career—spanning the transition between two colonial periods, Spanish and American—has nonetheless remained relatively obscure, eclipsed by his illustrious predecessors Luna and Hidalgo, and by his famous nephew and protégé Fernando Amorsolo.

In this lavishly illustrated book, de la Rosa speaks directly to the reader through his Spanish and English essays, gathered by Don Alfonso Ongpin. Eminent scholars and authors like Luciano P. R. Santiago, Santiago Albano Pilar, Macario Ofilada Mina, and editor Ana Maria P. Labrador contribute essays on the artist’s life, the context of the historical period he lived in, the artists who influenced his work, and his legacy in terms of the artists and institutions he helped shape.

By standing as testament to the invaluable role of Fabian de la Rosa and the Philippines in the art world of the nineteenth and twentieth century, Fabian de la Rosa and His Times aims to help restore the great artist to his rightful place in the panorama of Philippine art history.


131 pages


This book fills the gap in the history of Philippine Art. Unaccountably, our cultural writers have neglected Fabian dela Rosa, though he dominated Philippine painting—as both practitioner and teacher—in the first third of the twentieth century. It was the homegrown Fabian dela Rosa—rather than the European-trained Juan Luna and Felix Resureccion Hidalgo—who brought to full flower the indigenous tradition of “vigorous gene pictures and elegant portraits” that had fluorished in the nineteenth century. It is the exuberant and romantic Fernando Amorsolo who represents this era in the popular imagination, but a painting like Planting Rice (on the cover) shows off the crisp virtuosity of Fabian dela Rosa’s more austere palette. The publishers have done Philippine art history a signal service.

Juan T. Gatbonton
Writer and Palanca awardee


A landmark book about Fabian dela Rosa… This iconic figure of Philippine culture is sometimes missed when recollection of our art history are compiled. It now appears in the light of rigorous scholarship that he truly stands tall, on the same pedestal as Juan Luna and Felix Resureccion Hidalgo. They belong to the same generation and all three have truly laid down the foundation of our contemporary art as is generally accepted now. But more than a superb craftsman, Fabian dela Rosa also articulated in precise and unequivocal terms the need for freedom—not as an abstract political ideal—but as the very essence with which a national identity is formed. In his essays on the background and development of Philippine culture, he points to this crucial and organic matrix in the birthing of the Filipino nation—an objective which many in this generation’s artists need to be reminded about.

F. Sionil Jose
Novelist and National Artist for Literature


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