Simbang Pinta



Religous paintings and engraving in the pre-colonial Philippines

Transcript of Simbang Pinta

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Introduction When the Spaniards arrived in the Philippines

in 1521, the colonizers used art as a tool to propagate the Catholic faith through beautiful images. With communication as problem, the friars used images to explain the concepts behind Catholicism, and to tell the stories of Christ’s life and passion. Images of the Holy Family and the saints were introduced to the Filipino psyche through carved santos, the via crucis (Stations of the Cross), engravings on estampas and estampitas, and through paintings on church walls.

Carved Santo - Sto. Nino Conquistador

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Estampita of St. Francis of Asissi

Via Crucis (station of the cross)

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Though the ethnic art forms such as pottery, weaving and metalwork were retained, the Spanish friars and the Chinese, the colony’s primary trading partner, were slowly introducing newer art forms. Icons brought by the friars were used as models for sculpture. Filipino artisans were taught the Chinese brushwork technique in painting. Engraving was also introduced.

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The concept of patronage emerged. Artisans were commissioned and paid to carve, engrave, and paint. They replaced the arts that were once done in a communal spirit and community setting for rituals. The church, particularly the friars, became the new patron of the arts.

Since most art produced during the first two centuries of Spanish occupation were for the church, the friars enforced strict supervision over their production. Until the 19th century, art was only for the church and religious use.

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Early in the 19th century, with the opening of the Suez canal in 1869 and the development of the agricultural export economy, native indios acquired economic wealth and became what was to be called the “ilustrados,”meaning enlightened and educated. These developments paved the way for Filipinos ilustrados to send their children to universities in Europe. The rise of the “ilustrado” (Filipinos with money and education) class was inevitable. The ilustrados became the new patron of the arts. These events paved the way for the secularization of art in the 19thcentury. Spanish - Filipino Mestizo

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Religious Painting The Spanish friars introduced Western painting

in the Philippines to artisans who learned to copy on two-dimensional form from the religious icons that the friars brought from Spain,. For the first centuries of Spanish colonization, painting was limited to religious icons. Portraits of saints and of the Holy Family became a familiar sight in churches. Other subject matters include the passion of Christ, the Via Crucis, the crucifixion, portrayal of heaven, purgatory and hell.

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Painters from the Visayas island of Bohol were noted for their skillful manipulation of the technique. Their paintings of saints and religious scenes show figures in frontal and static positions. For the Boholano painters, the more important persons would be depicted bigger than the rest of the figures. Christ normally dwarfs the Roman soldiers in these paintings. Unfortunately, they did not sign their names on their works and no record of their names exists.

6th station of the cross - Unknown Boholano artist

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In the church in Paete, Laguna are two works by Josef Luciano Dans (1805- ca. 1870), probably one of the earliest recorded painters in Philippine art history. Langit, Lupa at Impiyerno ca. 1850 (Heaven, Earth and Hell), a three-level painting which shows the Holy Trinity, Mary the Mother of Christ, saints, the Seven Blessed Sacraments and a macabre depiction of Hell. The second painting is entitled Purgatorio (Purgatory) which shows the eight forms of punishment the soul passes through for cleansing before reaching Heaven.

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Josef Luciano Dans

Langit, Lupa at Impiyerno 

ca. 1850

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Several Filipino painters had the chance to study and work abroad. Among them were Juan Novicio Luna and Felix Resureccion Hidalgo who became the first international Filipino artists when they won the gold and silver medals in the 1884 Madrid Exposition.

Luna’s academic painting Spoliarium won gold medal. It showed the dead and dying Roman Gladiators being dragged into the basement of the Coliseum. It is often interpreted as an allusion to Imperial Spain’s oppression of the natives. Though winning the gold medal, Luna was not awarded the Medal of Excellence, the top award for the competition, because he was a Filipino.

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Spolarium - Oil on canvas - 166 in × 302.2 in

Juan Novicio y Luna

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Painting styles

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Popular Style Painting The Popular Style is often characterized by its

crude and loosely done technique. Often it features a frontal depiction of the subject, in a static pose, but with a relaxed attitude.

The iconography of the subjects was depicted with the main character as the largest in the picture frame, while the size of other characters decreased in accordance to their importance. This was reflective of the Byzantine style, rather the Baroque of that era.

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“Last Supper”

Oil on wood from Baclayon, Bohol. 35” x 44”

Unknown Boholano Artist

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“Garden of Gethsemane”

Oil on molave wood from Baclayon, Bohol. 44” x 35”

Unknown Boholano Artist

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“Crowning of Thorns”

Oil on tindalo wood from Baclayon, Bohol. 35” x 44”

Unknown Boholano Artist

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“Judas kisses Jesus,”

oil on wood from Baclayon, Bohol. 35” x 44”

Unknown Boholano Artist

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1790 St Joseph

Faustino Quiotan (1770 – 1825)

Quiotan, a Chinese mestizo, was one of the first painters to break away from the Byzantine style of

iconography, to make the subjects of the saints more


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Proper Style Painting In the 19th century, materials and able

teachers can from Spain and Mexico, teaching the locals a finer degree of painting techniques. This created a flourishing in painting for both religious and secular motifs.

In these new works a greater degree of realism is achieved with proportion and subtle gradation of colors were used.

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Oil on canvas

166 in × 302.2 in

Juan Novicio y Luna

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"Nuestra Señora del Santisimo Rosario" (Our

Lady of the Most Holy Rosary)

Oil on copper sheet - 48.26 x 35.56 cm

Damián Domingo y Gabor

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Damian Domingo began his career as a painter specializing in miniature portraits and religious imagery. He also created albums of illustrations of native costumes. This he did primarily to sell to collectors. Such skills made Domingo one of the most famous and sought-after artists of his time in the Philippines. Domingo is regarded highly in the history of Filipino art and is credited with establishing academic courses in art in the Philippines.

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La Sagrada Familia1830

Oil on copper sheet

48.26 (length) x 35.56 (width) cm.

Damian Domingo

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Josef Luciano Dans

Langit, Lupa at Impiyerno 

ca. 1850

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Miniature Painting Miniature Paintings are religious

images painted in small canvases in such fine detail, for the use in lockets.

Juan Arceo

(1795 – 1865)

Arceo created large religious works, integrating images of local people the subjects. This signified a first in Hispanic painting, with a move towards the localization of themes, similar to the humanist works of the Renaissance. He was a student of Damian Domingo.

1836 Dominican Text1836 Dominican Text

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Religious Engraving

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Engraving was introduced in the 1590’s by the Spanish colonizers. In 1593, the Dominicans published the La Doctrina Christiana en la Lengua Española y Tagala (The Christian Doctrine in the Spanish and Tagalog Language), first book printed in the country. On it was a woodcut engraving of St. Dominic by Juan de Veyra, a Chinese convert.

The first engraving method, introduced in the Philippines, was that of the woodblock, by Fr. Antonio Sedeño. Usually the woodblocks were made of heavy woods such as the molave or narra, due to their fine grain. Later the copper plate technique was introduced, and by the 18th century, it had reached its height. However, the popularity of engraving waned by the 19th century, when painting developed rapidly, cutting down on the process of art making, as well as the uniqueness of a painting.

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The religious orders owned printing presses and printed mostly prayer books and estampas. The Estampas(prints of miraculous images) usually featured portraits of saints and religious scenes. Estampas and Estampitas (smaller version of estampas) were distributed during town fiestas to the natives.

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In the 18th century, copper etching became more popular. Filipino engravers like Francisco Suarez, Nicolas de la Cruz Bagay, Laureano Atlas, and Felipe Sevilla were the first Filipino artists to sign their works. And with words like “Indios Tagalo” or “Indio Filipino”, affixed their social status on their works.

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"Jesus falls with cross," Circa 1760

Nicolas de la Cruz Bagay

Engraving from Manga panalangin, by Belen.

"Jesus in Mary''s arms," Circa 1760

2 1/4" x 3 3/4".

Nicolas de la Cruz Bagay

Engraving from Manga panalangin, by Belen.

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Francisco Suarez

Jesus sweats blood.


Francisco Suarez

“Jesus is lifted on the cross”

Circa 1760.

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Laureano Atlas

Our Lady of the Rose and Our Lady of Peace and Good Voyage


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The Ilocano Script in the Doctrina Cristiana

One of the few examples of the pre-Hispanic Ilocano script surviving today is that written by Father Belarmino in 1621 in the Ilocano translation of the Doctrina Cristiana (Christian Doctrine), shown below and transliterated into Ilocano and English.

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