Last Updated: April 3rd, 2019
Coming from a line of notable Filipino artists, Fabián de la Rosa, at an early age, discovered his love for visual arts. Having set a career in motion at such an early age, he went on to produce notable works that made him one of the Filipino painters of note in the twentieth century. Prior to his death in 1938, he has produced around 1,000 artworks and is also credited for encouraging his nephew, Fernando Amorsolo, to pursue a career in painting.
Born on May 5, 1869, in Paco, Manila, Fabian de la Rosa y Cueto was the second child of Marcos de la Rosa and Gregoria Cueto.
Fabian, at an early age discovered his love for visual arts and is said to have learned to draw before he could even write. His first lessons, at the age of 10, were with his aunt, Mariana de la Rosa.
The young Fabian then enrolled at the Escuela de Bellas Artes y Dibujo under Agustin Saez, but dropped out after three years. In 1893, he studied at the Escuela Superior de Pintura, and took painting lessons from renowned art teachers Lorenzo Guerrero and Miguel Zaragoza.
In 1898, de la Rosa won a contest for a scholarship to the Spanish Art Academy of San Fernando in Madrid. This failed to materialize, however, due to the ongoing Philippine Revolution at the time.
In 1908, he was offered another scholarship by the Germinal Cigar Factory and traveled Europe as a pensionado. He attended the Académie Julian in Paris, France where the likes of American-British sculptor, Jacob Epstein, and Finnish painter Akseli Gallen-Kallela studied.
Having been born to a family of artists, Fabian de la Rosa was exposed to the field of visual arts at an early age. Some of his relatives include:
- Esperidion de La Rosa – a celebrated watercolorist and muralist.
- Simón Flores y de la Rosa (uncle) – a well-known painter of religious icons and portraits
- Fernando and Pablo Amorsolo – after being orphaned, Fabian became their mentor and is also credited for encouraging Fernando to pursue a career in painting.
He married Gorgonia Tolentino on January 13, 1900. They had no children.
After his return from Europe, Fabian de la Rosa became one of the first instructors at the University of the Philippines School of Fine Arts that was established by the American colonial government in 1908.
As professor, he introduced decorative painting while also painting portraits on the side.
He served as the school’s director from 1927 to 1937 before taking a leave to travel to Europe with his wife. He then continued painting in Paris for about four months and also traveled to Munich, Geneva, and Rome. In 1928, he presented a much acclaimed exhibition of his paintings at the Ateneo de Madrid.
Fabian de la Rosa produced around 1,000 works throughout his career. The infamous writer and novelist, Aurelio Alvero, divided and described Fabian’s works into three different periods:
- Academic, with little attention given to atmosphere and ambience. Some of the works included in this period include “Transplanting Rice,” which won De La Rosa the gold medal at the International Exposition held in St. Louis, Missouri in 1904, and “The Death of General Lawton,” which won the bronze medal in the same exposition.
- Atmospheric, and giving importance to the environment. Examples from this period include the “El Kindiman,” 1930, and “Markina Road,” 1939.
- The use of colors. An example of this period is his landscape painting “Fishermen’s Huts on Balut Island.”
- Patnubay ng Sining at Kalinangan (Guide of the Arts and Culture) by the City of Manila in 1968
- Gold Medal for “Transplanting Rice,” International Exposition held in St. Louis, Missouri in 1904
- Broze Medal for “The Death of General Lawton,” International Exposition held in St. Louis, Missouri in 1904
Fabian de la Rosa died on December 15, 1938, in Quiapo, Manila. His wife Gorgonia, died a year before (in 1937) of cancer. He was left living alone and suffered from kidney disease.
The Manila Project
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- Geringer Art Ltd.
- National Commission for Culture and the Arts
- Master of Genre: Fabian Cueto dela Rosa, De la Paz, Christiane, 2005