“Hidalgo is all light, color, harmony, feeling, limpidness like the Philippines in her calm moonlit nights, in her serene days with her horizons inviting contemplation…”
Dr. Jose P. Rizal during the toast at the dinner in honor of of the prizewinning artists Juan Luna and Felix Resurreccion Hidalgo on 25 June 1884 at the “Cafe Ingles.”
Refinement. The one characteristic of the paintings of Felix Resurrecion Hidalgo y Padilla.
“The only real “La Banca’!!! ” Teyet declared smugly as we stood, mesmerized as always during every visit, by the masterpiece in his apartment’s entrance hall.
So it was quite a surprise when we browsed through Teyet’s former BFF “best friend forever” and now archnemesis couturier Pitoy Moreno’s book “Kasalan” [ “Wedding” ] — derided as “Kasalanan” [ “Sin” ] by Teyet — and saw the “La Banca” painting by Hidalgo, another one, this time from the collection of industrialist Manuel Ag*stines and his patrician wife Ros*rito Legarda-Prieto C*ro.
For sure, that was another real “La Banca.”
Another beautiful, relatively accessible Hidalgo painting is “La Inocencia” still in its original Filipino Art Nouveau frame from the collection of Dr. Alejandro Legarda. It still hangs in the living room of his house.
A real stunner, an epic work, is the mural “The Assassination of Governor Bustamante” in the Leandro and Cecilia Locsin collection. I first saw it during the Luna-Hidalgo retrospective at the Metropolitan Museum of Manila in the late 1980s. With the painter’s characteristic finesse, it didn’t even look like a violent assassination. It looked like the Dominican friars were just parading around with banners or something…
Felix Resurreccion Hidalgo y Padilla was born in 1855 to the rich, propertied Padilla family of Binondo, Manila originally from 1700s Lingayen, Pangasinan. For starters, he was painted at the age of four in 1859 [ or age of six in 1859 if born in 1853; historians have varied dates :P ] with his maternal grandfather Narciso Padilla by the Tondo maestro Antonio Malantic. Narciso Padilla was a rich lawyer and merchant with several businesses and many commercial real estate properties in Manila and surrounding “arrabales” districts. Narciso’s daughter, Barbara “Baritay” Padilla de Resurreccion Hidalgo, Felix’s mother, inherited many valuable properties from him, among them several big warehouses in the Divisoria entrepot in Tondo which lined the Pasig river. The affluent Padilla family had [ and still has ] a long history distinguished by high professional achievement, wealth, conservatism, and prudence. The Padilla descendants recall that, with characteristic frugality, their forebears had transferred the “bahay na bato” ancestral house in Lingayen, Pangasinan beam by beam and brick by brick to Calle General Solano in posh San Miguel district, Manila in the late 1800s. Frugality notwithstanding, the transfer of whole houses “in toto” was not an unusual practice during the Spanish colonial era.