Fernando Cueto Amorsolo (May 30, 1892 - April 26, 1972) is one of the most important artists in the history of painting in the Philippines. Amorsolo was a portraitist and painter of rural Philippine landscapes. He is popularly known for his craftsmanship and mastery in the use of light. Born in Paco, Manila, he earned a degree from the Liceo de Manila Art School in 1909.
Early life and education
Fernando Amorsolo was born on May 30, 1892 in Paco, Manila to Pedro Amorsolo, a bookkeeper, and Bonifacia Cueto. Amorsolo spent his childhood in Daet, Camarines Norte, where he studied in a public school and was tutored at home in Spanish reading and writing. After his father’s death, Amorsolo and his family moved to Manila to live with Don Fabian de la Rosa, his mother's cousin and a Philippine painter. At the age of 13, Amorsolo became an apprentice to De la Rosa, who would eventually become the advocate and guide to Amorsolo's painting career. During this time, Amorsolo's mother embroidered to earn money, while Amorsolo helped by selling watercolor postcards to a local bookstore for 10 centavos each. Amorsolo's brother, Pablo, was also a painter.
Amorsolo's first success as a young painter came in 1908, when his painting Levendo Periodico took second place at the Bazar Escolta, a contest organized by the Asociacion Internacional de Artistas. Between 1909 and 1914, Amorsolo enrolled at the Art School of the Liceo de Manila, where he earned honors for his paintings and drawings.
After graduating from the Liceo, he entered the University of the Philippines' School of Fine Arts, where Dela Rosa worked at the time. During college, Fernando Amorsolo's primary influences were the Spanish court painter Diego Velazquez, John Singer Sargent, Anders Zorn, Joaquín Sorolla y Bastida, Claude Monet, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, and Ignacio Zuloaga. Amorsolo's most notable work as a student at the Liceo was his painting of a young man and a young woman in a garden, which won him the first prize in the art school exhibition during his graduation year. To make money during school, Amorsolo joined competitions and did illustrations for various Philippine publications, including Severino Reyes’ first novel in Tagalog, Parusa ng Diyos (God’s Punishment), and Iñigo Ed. Regalado's Madaling Araw (Dawn). He also illustrated for the religious Pasion books. Amorsolo graduated with medals from the University of the Philippines in 1914.