The Life and Art of Isabelo Tampinco

Title: Print


by Santiago Albano Pilar


A definite pride of race and place characterized many of the works of Isabelo Tampinco, who during the time of Rizal, Luna, and Hidalgo stood out as the master of the art of sculpture. Much in demand among Spaniards and Filipinos alike, the sculptures and carvings he created adorned many churches, public edifices, and homes—in particular, the Church of San Ignacio in Intramuros, the interior of which showcased his beautiful woodwork. Tampinco endeavored to create a distinct Filipino style by infusing his carvings and sculptures with native motifs, notably the anahaw, areca palm, and bamboo—a style which would later come to be called by his own name.

In the book The Life and Art of Isabelo Tampinco, Santiago Albano Pilar explores the life of Isabelo Tampinco, his accomplishments in art, and the influences that molded the style he created. While Tampinco walked with such luminaries as Rizal and Luna, his world was that of the artists of late nineteenth to early twentieth-century Quiapo and Santa Cruz. Unlike the propagandistas, these artists had not been educated abroad, yet they strove just as valiantly to be recognized alongside their European counterparts. His sons Vidal and Ángel, talented artists in their own right, were trained by him and carried on his legacy and distinctive style after his death.

The ravages of war obliterated much of his work; yet what remains, as showcased here, confirms Tampinco’s status as one of the greats of his time. This book contains a comprehensive gallery of Tampinco’s extant works, as well as archival photographs of his lost masterpieces.


Without a doubt, Isabelo Tampinco left a legacy that cements his place as the greatest Filipino sculptor of the nineteenth century. Plaster, wood, and marble gave him an easy and affordable way to create fine sculptures. And there lies his greatness, in the democratization of the high arts. This book is a most welcome contribution to the dearth of scholarly information on Tampinco.

—Purissima Benitez-Johannot
Curator and Art Critic


About the Author

Santiago Albano Pilar is a former professor of art history at the University of the Philippines College of Fine Arts, where he taught advanced courses in art history and connoisseurship at both undergraduate and graduate levels. He has authored several landmark books on art and art history such as Juan Luna: The Filipino as Painter;  Pamana: The Jorge B. Vargas Art Collection; Inspired Calm: The Sober Realism of Domingo A. Celis; and A Harvest of Saints. He has coauthored several other titles including Limbag Kamay: 400 Years of Philippine Printmaking (with Imelda Cajipe-Endaya) and Pioneers of Philippine Art: Luna, Amorsolo, Zobel (with Rodolfo Paras-Perez and Emmanuel Torres). He is associate editor of volume 4 of the CCP Encyclopedia of Philippine Art: Philippine Visual Arts. He was the recipient of the 1980 Ten Outstanding Young Men award (TOYM) for his pioneering research on Philippine colonial art history.

Professor Pilar also contributed the section on Philippine painting for the multivolume Grove Dictionary of Art published by Grove Press, London, formerly a subsidiary of the Macmillan Group, but acquired by Oxford University Press in 2003. For his contributions to Philippine art history, he was honored with the Araw ng Maynila Award: Tagapag-alaga ng Sining in 1996. He is a consultant of exhibition projects at the Ayala Museum, Metropolitan Museum of Manila, and Cultural Center of the Philippines. He has also curated Héroes Anónimos (January to July 2008), an exhibition organized by the UP College of Fine Arts in conjunction with its centennial year, which was held at the Manila Metropolitan Museum. He was the inaugural recipient of the Purita Kalaw-Ledesma Professorial Chair for Art History and Criticism and is the current holder of the Ignacio Villamor Professional

© 2014
369 pages

You may also like

Recently viewed