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Lorenzo Guerrero: artist, genius, Filipino.

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Today is the birth anniversary of Lorenzo Guerrero. He’s from Ermita, Manila, belonging to the legendary ilustrado family: los Guerrero.

Guerrero was one of eminent painter Juan Luna’s teachers during the latter’s youth.

Below is a brief biographical sketch of Lorenzo Guerrero written by Héctor K. Villaroel (from the 1965 book EMINENT FILIPINOS which was published by the National Historical Commission, a precursor of today’s National Historical Institute).

LORENZO GUERRERO
(1835-1904)

A great painter and art teacher whose “primitive brush strokes found solidity and vigor in the canvases of Luna and de la Rosa,” Lorenzo Guerrero was born in Ermita, Manila, on November 4, 1835, to León Jorge Guerrero and Clara Leogardo.

He studied Latin at San José College; and painting, briefly, under different Spanish masters, like Cortina and Valdez; and, perhaps for a long period, under Agustín Sáez. At the age of 16 he started giving lessons in drawing. José Rizal described him as a “master who had virtually taught himself.”

In 1858, together with Lorenzo Rocha y Ycaza, he was appointed ayudante de naturales in the Academia de Dibujo y Pintura. Likewise, he gave drawing lessons at Santa Isabel and La Concordia colleges, and worked as a private tutor of the sons and daughters of Manila’s prominent families. Two of his students, Juan Luna and Fabián de la Rosa, won international acclaim.

As a connoisseur of music and literature, he had his house in Ermita turned to a veritable salon where Manila’s intellectuals met and exchanged views. As a gifted painter, whose delicacy of execution and handling of light and shadow was incomparable, he centered his work on two subjects — religious themes and scenes depicting native life and customs. His religious paintings that were housed and greatly treasured in the churches were “Nuestra Señora de Guía,” “Santa Filomena,” “Saint John the Baptist,” and “Santa Verónica de Julianus.” Similarly appreciated were the reproductions of local scenes, like the “Chinese Vendor of Tsin-Tsao,” “River’s Bend,” and “Scene at a Brook,” which were exhibited at the St. Louis Exposition in 1904.

Lorenzo married Clemencia Ramírez in 1868 by whom he had two children.

He died rather suddenly of acute asthma in Ermita on April 8, 1904.

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