Last Updated: December 12th, 2018
Born on November 19, 1850 in Binondo, Manila to a Chinese mestizo father–Leoncio de los Reyes Tampinco–and Maria Justa de Lacandola–a direct descendant of Raja Lakandula, Isabelo Tampinco would later carve out his own name as a talented sculptor that many consider as a “forgotten master”.
The young Tampinco started woodcarving in small workshops in Binondo and Santa Cruz before taking a course at the Academia de Dibujo y Pintura. There, he would learn from renowned professors Agustin Saez and Lorenzo Rocha before he started his own studio in Quiapo, Manila. His talent is also attributed by some, to his father Leoncio, who was himself a sculptor and wood carver, and grandfather, Manuel, who worked as a mason and carpenter.
While slowly making a name for himself, his works would later be used in churches in Intramuros to as far as Pangasinan, and Ilocos Norte.
And, contrary to the trend at that time, Tampinco honed his talent in sculpting entirely in the Philippines. From 1872 to 1882, he studied at the Ateneo Municipal de Manila where he was in the same class as Jose Rizal before he left for Europe.
While he remains to be celebrated as a one of the “masters”, he has already received a number of awards and recognition for his works including the:
- Gold Medal, Exposicion Universal de Barcelona (1888)
- Gold medal at the Philippine Regional Exposition in Manila (1895)
- Gold medal at Saint Louis World’s Fair (1904)
- Silver medal and Diploma of Honor at the Philippine General Exposition held in Madrid in 1887
- Silver medal at the Tercentenary Celebrations of Saint Theresa of Avila in 1882
- The Medal of Honor from Governor General Domingo Moriones
Tampinco’s sculptures currently on display at the National Museum of Fine Arts is but a tiny fraction of his body of works which is widely featured in churches, public buildings, and homes. This includes the facade of the Manila Cathedral, the main altar of the Laoag Cathedral, Santo Domingo Church’s molave door, and the wood carvings in the UNESCO-recognized San Agustin Church. And together with his sons Angel and Vidal, the interiors of the Old Senate Session Hall inside the National Museum of Fine Arts were also sculpted by the Tampinco family.
He would later teach at the Academia de Dibujo y Pintura and the Philippine School of Arts and Trade before he passed away on January 20, 1933.
The Manila Project
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